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A person can stand in only one of two possible relationships to God's law -either guilty or righteous. Due to everyone's original and actual sin, all are guilty lawbreakers. From man's side, there is no hope for his justification. Fallen man owes an infinite debt and has no righteousness with which to pay.

However, blessed be God! When there was no hope from fallen man's side, God revealed hope in a wonderful Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ. God graciously imputes the righteousness of Christ to all who are saved, and upon that basis, declares them to be righteous.

The penalty for sin, the breaking of God's law, is death. To pay the full price for His people's sin, Jesus had to suffer and die. God perfectly holy and just; He is the perfection of holiness and justice. Therefore God could never overlook or pass by sin in the life of any person, not even in the lives of His people. To save His Church, Jesus had to bear the full wrath of God poured out against its sins. He had to suffer the terrible sufferings and die the painful death that He did.

Jesus' being required to pay the full penalty price for sin and His willingness to do so glorify both God's justice and grace. The following story illustrates this truth.

    A well-known friend of a judge has been found guilty of theft and must be sentenced by him. Everyone in the courtroom waits in suspense. Will the judge pronounce a fair sentence, or will he show favoritism to his friend by giving him a lighter penalty?

    Two remarkable things take place. First, the judge pronounces a fully just sentence -six months in prison and full restitution of the $3,000 stolen. Secondly, after sentencing the guilty, the judge then states, "But I wish to pay the full price for my friend. I will serve his six-month sentence and pay the entire $3,000."

    Those observing are deeply impressed, with both the judge's expression of justice and of mercy! How do both the sentence upon, and the payment of, Christ for His Church glorify God's justice and mercy?

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;

Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.

- Romans 3:23-25

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

- Romans 6:23

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

- Romans 5:8-9

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