How Can God Justify The Ungodly?
God says it is an abomination to justify the wicked, and it is equal to declaring an innocent person guilty (Proverbs 17:15). God also says, “He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:” (Proverbs 24:24)
It is not right for us to declare wicked people righteous. Again and again, God declares that we are sinners and then repeatedly forbids anyone to declare a sinner righteous. This poses an unsolvable problem for us, but not for God. Here is the good news. Scripture tells us God does exactly what we should not and cannot. We cannot do it, but He can. God does justify the ungodly (Romans 4:5).
How does He do this?
He does not and cannot pervert, deny, or ignore justice. God must be just to justify anyone.
How, then, does God justify?
How does God grant the blessedness of justification upon sinners?
The answer is in the inspired words of King David – “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:6-8)
The way God does it is by NOT imputing (charging, accounting) the sins of His elect to them and imputing their sins to Christ, the Substitute and Redeemer of His people. They are described here as those “whose sins are covered.”
This means God keeps no record of their sins against them because their sins have been punished in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ bore their guilt and punishment and established righteousness for them – “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).