Quick Answers: What is "justification"?
Justification is a legal term. It means to declare just, to declare righteous. Imagine you are standing on trial before a judge, and the evidence is presented to the judge. The judge has to make a declaration. The judge will either declare you guilty or declare you just. Justification, in the Christian sense, is that the Christian is declared righteous by God. How can a sinful person be declared just? How can a sinful person be declared righteous? In Scripture, we see that it is only by being united to Christ through faith in Christ.
When we are united to Christ, he takes our evidence as it were. He takes our sin upon himself and stands before the judge condemned. Christ bears the penalty for our sin. He bears the wrath of God for sin because he takes the sentencing we deserve upon himself.
Justification is not only that though. If Christ were to only do that, it would put us in a neutral position with God. Christ not only died for us, Christ lived and obeyed for us. When we are united to Christ through faith, his evidence becomes ours. His righteousness is put into our account. So when we stand before the just Judge, he can declare us righteous because of the righteousness of Christ. This truth should give the Christian great comfort for two reasons. One, there is no wrath of God left for the Christian. Christ bore that wrath upon himself on the cross. Secondly, there is only favor and blessing from God for the Christian because we stand in his presence declared righteous. The Christian doesn't have to worry about their position with God being shaken because our position with God is based upon the finished work of Christ. If you are to leave with something to remember, remember this: Justification is "just as if I never sinned" and "just as if I perfectly obeyed the law" only because of the work of Christ.
Stephen Duarte (ME, National University; working on MTS, Reformed Baptist Seminary) is a pastor at Parkside Bible Fellowship in Fallon, NV. He is husband to Debbie and father of three.
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