Justification is an ongoing effort for every human being since no individual wants to be guilty of some words expressed or action done. There comes the necessity to excuse oneself by making a superficial apology and to walk away from the situation. Self-justification is another way of addressing our guilt but unfortunately our perceptions are distorted, and causes the individual to believe that what was said or done was the best response; unfortunately, the individual is not interested in the truth, only in self-preservation. We see the need for justification in every aspect of life today; in the workplace, on the roads and highways, on the sports fields, it is always someone else’s fault never our own. What then is true justification? Justification is an act of justifying (Justify: to show or prove to be right; to declare innocent or guiltless). It is necessary because we are all guilty of committing some unrighteous act against someone else, but most important, against God, which is the basis of all our unrighteous acts.
Biblically, it is the act of God whereby humankind is absolved of guilt or sin. Justification is not a pardon; in Biblical terms it means to be declared righteous or guiltless; it is the act of God that forgives an individual of the guilt of sin. In the redemption of mankind God must justify the sinner without condoning or justifying the individual’s sin, for God cannot compromise in judgment and deal with sin frivolously since His Law demands the death of the sinful individual; “The soul who sins is the one who will die” <Ezek.18:4 (NIV)>; “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.” <Ezek.19:20 (NIV)>.
Since God’s Law demanded the death of the sinner, God cannot and will not justify the guilty, nor can He justify those who pervert His Law <see Ex.23:7; Isa.5:22-23>; nor can He justify those who attempt to justify themselves <Lk.16:15>. It is recorded that those who obey and do what the Law requires will be justified <see Rom.2:13>, but the difficulty we face is that no person can adhere to the law of God perfectly <Jas.2:10> for we all acquire the sinful nature from birth <Psa.51:5; Rom.3:23>. The solution then is by the Infinite Wisdom and the Grace of God, and His solution is that Jesus Christ volunteered to become a human being, live a perfect life according to the Law, and give the righteousness of God as a gift to those individuals who will accept it by faith <see Acts 4:12; 16:31>.
By definition, Justification is being declared righteous before God: the sinner is clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and God sees the sinner perfect in the righteousness of Christ <see Rom.4:3, 5>. Justification is the forgiveness of all our sins, our guilt and punishment being removed: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” <Mic.7:18-19 (NIV)>; “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” <Acts 13:38-39 (NIV); see Heb.8:12; Jer.31:31-34>. So, we find that God ascribes (imputes) Christ’s righteousness to the sinner, for this is the only way that God can justify the sinner <see 1 Pet.2:24; 2 Cor.5:21>. In so doing the sinner is then adopted into God’s family, although not being worthy but made worthy through Christ <see Eph.2:13, 19>.
The requirement for the sinner to receive God’ righteousness so as to be justified, is by faith in Christ only; for the scriptures teach that Justification is by Faith; believing in and accepting Christ’s finished work on Calvary’s Cross; “know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” <Gal.2:16 (NIV); Rom.3:25-26; 4:5>. So then, Justification is a judicial act performed by God, and He is the only one who can justify the sinner <Rom.8:33>; Justification is granted to the sinner by God’s grace, the source of our Justification <Rom.3:24; Titus 3:7>; by Christ’s shed blood <Rom.5:9>; and by the resurrection of Christ <Rom.4:25>. The scriptures also teach that Justification will be evidenced by “good acts”, and the process should be carefully comprehended. Good works will not justify the sinner, but after justification is granted, the individual should exhibit good works whatever these may be <see Jas.2:21-24>. There are two other results of Justification that are worth consideration. Justification by faith brings about peace with God; no longer is the sinner fearful of God as when living in rebellion against God but now has a clear conscience, a heart of love for God and others, and a mind that is controlled by The Holy Spirit <see Rom.5:1>. Justification also grants access into God’s presence for worship, praise and petitions <see Rom.5:2; Heb.10:19-22>. There is also the trial that faith in God produces and Christ reminded His disciples of this <see Jn.15:18-21; Rom.5:3; 2 Tim.3:12>.
In the significance of all that has been said, where do you stand as far as your Justification is concerned? Are you concerned about thoughts, words expressed or actions in your life that brings about conviction? Do you desire for peace with God and others? Have you been Justified judicially by God, and by Christ? <see Rom.8:33; Isa.53:11> Remember that Biblical Justification is only attainable by Faith in Christ <Rom.5:1>.