Q: #184. What is justification?
By: Steve Shirley
A: The Bible says that each person on this planet is a sinner (1 Jn 1:8,10)(Rom 3:10,23) (Eccl 7:20)(1 Kin 8:46). Because God is holy (1 Pet 1:16)(Isa 57:15)(Lev 20:26)(Lk 1:49), He cannot look on sin (Hab 1:13). In fact, in order to have a relationship with God the Father at all, He demands sinless perfection. Since we can never attain this, Jesus came to Earth and lived the perfect, sinless, and righteous life that we cannot. At the end of His righteous life, the sinless Jesus was crucified on a cross. The Bible tells us that His blood was shed on the cross so that we could have forgiveness of our sins (Col 1:14)(Eph 1:7)(Heb 10:16-19)(1 Jn 1:7)(Rev 1:5). The reason that this occurred is because God required that blood be shed to pay for sins (Lev 17:11)(Heb 9:22).
While He was on the cross, Jesus said 2 important things. First, in (Mt 27:46)(Mk 15:34) He said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" This was the moment that the sin of all mankind was laid upon Jesus. He asked that question because for the first time in His life, He felt the separation that sin caused from God the Father. Secondly, He said in (Jn 19:30), "It is finished." At that moment, He gave up His spirit and died. This was the moment that His work of atonement for our sins was finished.
Keeping all of this in mind, this is what justification is:
Justification is a judicial act of God, whereby a sinner is declared righteous in the eyes of God, not by ANY works or good deeds he has done (Gal 2:16)(Rom 3:28)(Rom 4:4-5)(Gal 5:4), but rather, he is justified ONLY by grace (Rom 3:24) through faith in Christ alone (Rom 5:1)(Gal 3:24)(1 Cor 6:11). When we place our faith in Christ, at that very moment, the righteousness of Christ's sinless, perfect life is imputed or credited to us. His righteousness becomes our righteousness. (2 Cor 5:19,21) says it like this, "to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them... (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (Also see: Rom 4:7-8,24-25) Our sins are pardoned, cancelled, and forgiven. From that moment onward, we have access to the Father through Jesus Christ FOREVER (Jn 14:6)(Mt 11:27)(Heb 10:19-20).
A great way that is often used to remember this is: Justified=Just-As-If-I'd (never sinned)