What does it mean to be justified? Jesus gave a parable of two men to demonstrate justification by faith. Luke 18:10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
Justification and Regeneration are closely related doctrines. Regeneration is that work that takes place within the person, Justification deals with the difference in his standing before God. Regeneration deals with the impartation of life to the sinner, while Jusification deals with his acceptance as righteous in the eyes of God.
Man is a sinner while God is holy. The publican admitted that he was a sinner. There can be no fellowship between the two until the matter of sin is dealt with effectively. There is a great gulf fixed between the two. Justification is the bridge God builds between Himself and the sinner. He declares the sinner righteous by a legal decree, based on the sin payment by His Son. No human effort to build that bridge can succeed. Romans 3:21 “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 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; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
Justification is a legal act by God, whereby He declares a sinner righteous because He imputs the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the sinners account. Romans 4:24 “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.) 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.”
By the act of justification, God can declare the worst sinner a saint. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth about their standing before God: First Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” The Corinthians still looked outwardly like sinners in many ways, but had been declared righteous by the divine decree called justification.
Since justification does not transform a sinner, but declares him to be righteous, what effect does it have on the person? At lease six results are evident:
Assurance of salvation. A calm assurance of the acceptance of the person by God produces the certainty of salvation. Isaiah 32: 17 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Romans 14: 17 “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
Peace with God. Romans 5: 1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” God, Who put the wall between the sinner and His God, has declared the sinner to be a saint, and removed that wall of separation. The war has been declared over by God and peace is declared.
Freedom from condemnation. Romans 8: 33 “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
Sonship. Titus 3: 7 “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Think of it, by the divine decree, God has made the former enemy of His, His child and heir! That is justification by faith!
Blessings untold. Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
Assurance of glorification. Romans 8: 29 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
Have you been justified by faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Remember, it is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saves us, and justifies us.
For more on this topic see: BBN Bible Institute course # 32100 Ephesians