Consider this modern day illustration. On June 23, 2000, a deaf couple stood before Judge Donald McDonough in a Fairfax, Virginia court and offered no rebuttal to their landlord’s complaint that they were behind on the rent. Their recent marriage unfortunately resulted in the loss of disability benefits, most of which kept a leased roof over their heads. Now they were $250 behind and had no hope of making up the deficit.
Judge McDonough couldn’t disagree. The landlord was due his rent, the couple was indeed guilty of nonpayment, and justice could not be set aside. Nevertheless, the judge’s compassion would not allow him to drop the gavel. Not just yet. Once the attorney for the plaintiff had closed his case, the judge suddenly left the courtroom. A few moments later, he returned from his chambers with $250 in cash, handed it to the landlords, and said, “Consider it paid.” With a transfer of funds from the just to the unjust, the debt was paid and the case dismissed. The law had been satisfied. The defendants were then “just” or “righteous” in the eyes of the court.
In a similar way, we have a transfer of righteousness from the account of another to cover our moral deficit so that we might stand justified before the court of heaven. How did this happen? “By His grace.” A free gift given, not because we are good, but because He is good.
(From Insights on Romans by Charles Swindoll)