The term justified or justification is a term that is used in Christianity. Yet, I wonder how many Christians understand what this term means as it relates to their relationship with Jesus. In this article, I will explain what justification is and why an understanding of it bring great joy.
To be justified is to be “declared righteous.” We understand from Scripture that there is none that are righteous except God alone. Therefore, the act of justifying can only be conferred by God himself and it is only done as an act of grace (Rom. 3:24). Justification, therefore, is the process whereby a sinful human receives the gift of right standing with God.
How does this happen?
The first step is a payment for sin, and the Book of Romans explains that by His grace, God put forth his Son to be a propitiation for sin (Rom. 3:25). A propitiation is a substitute for punishment.
It is important to understand that because God is just he cannot leave sin unpunished. For to do this would make Him unjust. But since he is fully just there must be a payment for sin. Scripture tells us that the just payment for sins is death (Rom. 6:23). This is not merely a physical death but a spiritual death that separates a person from God.
This is where the joyful part comes in. The great joy of the Christian faith is that God was not willing to let mankind pay the penalty for sin. Therefore, in order to satisfy the penalty for sin, God sent his Son Jesus to be the propitiation for the sin of man. A propitiation is simply a substitute for punishment. God took on the just penalty of sin himself. so that we would not have to. The modern hymn In Christ Alone conveys this so eloquently:
In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
'Til on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live.
The joy of justification is that by faith, sinful people can have right standing with God because of the death of Jesus.
Romans conveys this clearly:
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and 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 (Rom. 3:23-25)."
To be justified comes as a gift that is received by faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). Faith has always been the means by which a person is justified before God - faith in the death and resurrection of Christ.
What does this mean for you?
It means that the God loved you so much that he sent His own Son to take your penalty for sin. It means that God made a way for you to have right standing with Him through faith in Jesus. It means that you do not have to live in guilt or fear of punishment. It means that your sin does not have to condemn you any more.
This is a demonstration of the love of God, and this is why you and I can experience the joy of justification.