Question: Will you please discuss the doctrine of justification?
Answer: Justification is defined in the dictionary as (1) the act of justifying; and (2) The condition or fact of being justified. Justifier is defined as “One who justifies.” Justify is theologically defined in the dictionary as “To free man of the guilt and penalty attached to grievous sin.”
Justification is the legal aspect of our salvation; the absolving from guilt by the forgiveness of all of our sins. Psalms 103:3 says of the Lord God “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;…” As the dictionary defines “Justifier” as “One who justifies,” so the Scripture says in Romans 8:33, that it is God that justifieth. Hence, God is the Justifier who justifies sinful men on certain grounds and conditions and for specific reasons. Psalms 103:10-12 says, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” The reason and grounds for God not dealing with us after our sins nor rewarding us according to our iniquities will be seen as we proceed. Another scripture confirming God as the Justifier is Isaiah 43:25. “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Again in Hebrews 8:12, speaking of His new covenant He would make with the people, God said, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (Matthew 18:16; John 8:17.) So these texts are sufficient to establish God as the Justifier and He is the only Justifier. If we obtain justification for our sins at all, we must receive it directly from Him. So now we will move on to discuss the grounds on which He can righteously justify us; blot out all our transgressions and remember our sins no more.
Since all humankind was blighted by sin as a result of the disobedience of our fore parents (Adam and Eve) in the Garden of Eden and their sinful state separated all of them from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), there existed no point of contact between God and man and no means of approach to Him; consequently no remedy for the doleful condition. But God was not satisfied with that condition because He loved mankind and wanted fellowship with him. So He set about to devise a means of reconciliation. In Isaiah 59:16 we read this, “And he saw that there was no…intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.” God must bring this about in a way to protect His own character and sustain His own righteousness, holiness and justice. God Himself had decreed a penalty of death for sin. (Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 5:12 and 6:23.) Therefore the acceptable sacrifice for sin must be one subject to death and the shedding of blood “…Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22.) But man could not accomplish this for himself because the sin sacrifice must be perfect without spot or blemish (Leviticus 22:19-20), and no man could qualify here because “…All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. (See also Romans 5:12.)
So when God looked over the entire human race and saw no man who was eligible to make an atonement for the sins of the race and qualify to stand in the breach between God and man and act as a mediator, go-between, intercessor between them, He never abandoned the project and gave it up as a bad job. He made Him a man (Jesus) Who accomplished the redemption of the human race. (Isaiah 59:16 and Revelation 5:1-10.) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:16-17. Ah! folks, here is our redemption and salvation and our ONLY redemption and salvation because Jesus, the Son of God, offered Himself to God a sacrifice for our sins “…as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” I Peter 1:19. (See also Hebrews 9:14.)
Romans 3:24-26 says, “Being JUSTIFIED freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” There could be no compromise here if God were to maintain His own character of holiness, righteousness and justice. The full penalty for sin (death) must be paid and it must be paid by One who was eligible and qualified to pay it, having no stain of sin upon Him and no spot in His character if God could be justified in forgiving sin and justifying sinful men. This was the great problem of redemption but Jesus solved it and bridged the gap by offering a total and acceptable sacrifice for sin and dying in our stead and His shed blood was a sufficient redemption for sin. Now, under this arrangement, God can still be God as holy, righteous, and just as He was before and still justify sinful men who will humble their hearts, confess, forsake and repent of their sins, believe Jesus Christ as God’s Son and their Saviour and put their faith in the merits of the all-atoning blood of Jesus Christ and that ONLY for the forgiveness of their sins. Jesus bore our sins in His own body on the tree (I Peter 2:24), He tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9), and God placed on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). Therefore God can have mercy on them who are out of the way and freely forgive their sins and blot out all their transgressions and remember them no more when they come unto Him by Jesus Christ. This is total and complete justification by God for Jesus’ sake.
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace with God is the result of justification. It is sin that breeds the quarrel between man and God and separates us from Him. (Isaiah 59:1-2.) When sins are forgiven and blotted out, the cause of the enmity is removed and peace is restored. This peace is through Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant. Jesus has qualified as the One and only Mediator between God and man and to be our Intercessor at the throne of grace. We can come unto God through Him in His name and in no other way. Read the following scriptures: John 14:6; Romans 8:34; I Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 12:24; and Hebrews 7:25. Jesus is right now appearing in the presence of God for us mediating and making intercession for all who will come unto God by Him.
But there is one more thing I must add before I close this little article. Let us not settle too cheaply on this matter of New Testament justification. We have dealt much on the thought of God forgiving all of our sins, blotting out all our transgressions, canceling out all our past life and justifying us and declaring us righteous on the basis of Christ’s righteousness and our faith in Him. Wonderful!! But this is only one part of God’s process of justification. When He has done this, He then imparts to the justified person a power and grace to have victory over sin and to live a life free from sin. In Acts 13:39 we read, “And by him all that believe are justified FROM all things, FROM which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” The key word in this text is the word “FROM.” God forgave sins under the law of Moses when the required sacrifice was offered. Man was forgiven but that was all. He received no power to enable him to live without sinning so he had to bring his sacrifice again and again. But in justification under grace he is justified FROM those sins when they are forgiven and receives power and grace to live victoriously over sin.