justification

Continuing the four-part series on Salvation, we attempt to answer the question, “What is the meaning of Being Justified in Christ?”  These are also the papers I had to write for Evangelism 102 at Fruitland Baptist Bible College. (www.fruitland.edu)  So without further ado, here is part 2…Justified in Christ.

 

What is the meaning of “Being Justified in Christ?” To answer this question, one must first rightly comprehend our standing before a Holy God. As sinful creatures, we stand in condemnation before our Creator. Our sin has separated us from the Father, and according to the law, our sin must be punished.

Paul writes in the book of Romans, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”[1] and again, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[2] For us to be in a right standing before God, we must be justified. Because God is holy and just, our sin must be punished. Brushing our sin under the rug simply won’t do. Just passing over our sin won’t do.

Neither does our righteousness, or good deeds, outweigh our sinfulness for Paul writes in Galatians, “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”[3] Punishment is required. A sacrifice must be made.

Jesus Christ was that perfect sacrifice and has justified us in 2 ways. He lived a perfect, sinless life that we were unable to live, and died the sacrificial death as the perfect Lamb, without spot or blemish. So we have been justified by Christ’s death and it has been counted to us as righteousness. Paul writes in the second letter to the church in Corinth, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”[4] Isaiah explains how our sins were to be laid on the coming Messiah when he writes, “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”[5]

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we no longer are at enmity with God. No longer are we estranged. No longer are we under condemnation, for Romans tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”[6] Now, when God the Father looks at us, He doesn’t see our sin, He sees His Son and His righteousness. Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us and we are now counted as righteous.

This is what it means to be justified in Christ. Paul sums it up this way, “[We] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith, for we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”[7]

[1] Rom 3:23 (English Standard Version)

[2] Rom 6:23

[3] Gal 2:16

[4] 2 Cor 5:21

[5] Is 53:5

[6] Rom 8:1

[7] Rom 3:24-28