What is Justification?

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1 KJV)

Justification is not only a central theological theme in the New Testament but a crucial practical truth to both understand and live in God’s grace in Christ. If you desire a deeper understanding of grace, fuller enjoyment of the blessings in Christ, or a deeper appreciation of the wonders of our Savior, then grasp the meaning of justification.

The verb “justified” and the corresponding noun “justification” are legal terms. Therefore, we must juxtapose the legal and spiritual connotations to understand these concepts more thoroughly. To justify is to acquit or vindicate someone in a trial, clearing them of all charges laid against them. The key terms are court, the law, trial, charges, and verdict.

Justification conjures up the image of a sinner charged with breaking God’s commandments standing before God the Judge. The charges are the loads of sins that sinner has committed. Once these charges are laid against the sinner, the court begins the trial to determine if the sinner is guilty of the charges laid against them; To decide if the sinner indeed has sinned and transgressed God’s laws. When the trial ends, the Judge then pronounces the jury’s verdict on the sinner. This verdict is either guilty of sins and therefore condemned to death or not guilty of sin and cleared of all charges of breaking God’s laws. This imagery of a court trial is the appropriate legal setting for correctly understanding justification.

Suppose the Lord, the Judge, determines the sinner is not guilty of the charges. In that case, He pronounces the sinner as acquitted, vindicated, or cleared of all charges and, therefore, righteous before God. Justification is declaring a sinner righteous before God: cleared and free of all charges of sin, compliant with all the requirements of God’s law, not only pronounced but treated as righteous! Once that verdict is pronounced, the sinner is immediately freed from the punishment of sins and entitled to the rewards and joys of righteousness.

Imagine the justified sinner, now a saint, overjoyed and astonished at the verdict, asking the Judge, “how could it be? I know I committed many sins, but I cannot find any. Was my sin luggage lost by the airlines on my way to this heavenly court? Upon hearing the words of His justified one, the Judge, sitting on the throne of grace, looks at them and says, “I died for you, and my blood paid the price for all your sins. Because of My blood shed for you, your sins have been blotted out for all eternity!”

But justification is not merely God declaring us righteous as described above; He does indeed make us righteous. He gives us the gift of righteousness when we believe in Jesus.

Meditate

What is justification in your own words?

Apply the Word

Justification has a fierce enemy—not sin, but unbelief. Our self-consciousness and religious pride often make it difficult to accept God’s gift; we somehow feel better when we work to earn something. Don’t let this obstacle disrupt grace in your life. Let this revelation sink into your spirit, and accept God’s gift of righteousness with every fiber in your heart!

Pray

Thank the Lord for the beautiful blessing of justification. 

Read & Watch

The mercy seat of our forgiveness and justification
What is the Gift of Righteousness?
Being justified freely by his grace
What is a Devotional?
View all Deshen Daily devotionals including today’s devotional.

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