Justification means God has judged you righteous and not guilty of sin. To be justified, is to be made right with God.
To quote a line favored by preachers, justification makes it “just-as-I-had-never-sinned.” Because of Christ, you will never bear the wage of sin. But justification does more than return you to Adam’s state of innocence. Justification leaves you as righteous as Jesus.
The verb justified (dikaioo, 1344) describes the act of making us innocent, just, and righteous. No one is justified or made right with God by doing good works or keeping the law (see entry for Rom. 3:20; see also Rom. 4:2, Gal. 2:16, 3:11, 5:4). Rather, our justification is paid for with the blood of Jesus (Rom. 5:9) and comes to us as a gift of grace (Rom. 3:24, Tit. 3:7) that is received by faith (Rom. 3:28, 5:1, Gal. 3:24). (When James writes about being justified by works, he is not referring to dead works of unbelief but the “work” of believing Jesus. See entry for Jas. 2:24.) As a result of being justified, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1) and are saved from his wrath (Rom. 5:9).
The noun justification appears only three times in scripture. On two occasions (Rom. 4:25, 5:18), the original noun (dikaiosis, 1347) means acquittal and is related to another word that means innocent. On the third occasion (Rom. 5:16), the original noun (dikaioma, 1345) means a just or righteous judgment. Because of Adam’s transgression, you were condemned to die. But because of Christ’s obedience, the Righteous Judge has made a just judgment and acquitted you of all sin. God is no longer holding our sins against us (2 Cor. 5:19).
The gospel of grace declares that Jesus was made sin so that you might be justified and made righteous (2 Cor. 5:21). You are not justified or made right with God because of anything you do, but because of everything he has done.
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