“Justification is sometimes called an impious procedure, because it declares sinners to be righteous contrary to fact. But this objection does not hold, because the divine declaration is not to the effect that these sinners are righteous in themselves, but that they are clothed with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. This righteousness wrought by Christ, is freely imputed (credited) to them. It is not a personal subjective righteousness, but Christ’s vicarious covenant righteousness, that is imputed to those who are in themselves unrighteous, and all to the glory of God.
It is often said this doctrine is ethically subversive, because it leads to licentiousness. But there is no truth in this whatsoever, as even the lives of the justified clearly show. In justification the sure foundation is laid for that vital spiritual union with Christ which secures our sanctification. It really leads right on to the conditions under which we can be truly holy in principle. The man who is justified also receives the spirit of sanctification, and is the only one who can abound in good works which will glorify God.”
Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, page 524.
Does God really label us with righteousness before we’ve lived according to righteousness? Is it true that Jesus gives spotless robes to messy people? Does knowing that our heavenly Father calls you clean, even when you get dirty, make you want to please Him more or less?
Titus 3:3-7, John 15:3, Rom 3:31