Last Sunday, our pastor gave a powerful sermon from Romans 5:1 regarding being justified through faith. While I have read this scripture severally, I felt refreshed and strengthened by this sermon.
The pastor explained that God declares us righteous even in our sinful nature when we believe in Christ. He further explained that we cannot work our way into justification, unlike some teachings that say we are justified through works.
When I left the church that afternoon, I felt this topic would have a significant impact on new believers. I did a little more research in the Bible to add more details to the topic in addition to what I had gathered from the sermon.
I also read several Christian scholarly texts just to get a multifaceted angle on this topic. I then came up with this post to teach about justification from a biblical point of view.
So, what is the biblical meaning of justification?
Like many other Christian publications and writings, the Bible views justifications as the actions of making something or someone righteous before God. Therefore, justification entails incorporating a concept of holiness before the sight of God to avert His judgment. Generally, justification from a biblical vantage point is accompanied by averting God’s Judgement or wrath, as spelled out in Romans 5: 9.
I urge you to join me and stay in touch as I delve into the Justification topic in this article to unravel the Greek meaning of justification, what the Bible says about justification, the Christian meaning of being justified, and the importance of justification.
Also, the article goes a notch higher in giving biblical examples and verses on justification, as well as comparing the concepts of justification in the Old and New Testaments.
What is the Greek meaning of justification?
The English word justification is a direct translation of the Greek term dikaiosis, a literal legal term that emanated from the action of making something or someone righteous.
The legal term dikaiosis literally binds with the law as well as the courtroom, as it stands for the legally binding verdict of a judge. Theologians argue that the term dikaiosis gained significant importance and adaptability in the early church’s history and theology at large.
For instance, Saint Paul’s epistles to Galatians and Romans ask against the Pharisees’ legalistic piety, how an individual becomes justified before God.
What does the Bible say about justification?
In both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible is crystal clear in spelling out justification and its related concepts.
Generally, both Testaments articulate God’s justification to some initial sins or wrongdoings pertaining to God’s will and doctrines; that is, an individual or group of individuals must have gone against God’s principles and will before justification is necessitated.
Simply put, justification incorporates the aspect of righteousness to someone who was initially unrighteous before God. It is from such a perspective that some Christian theologians, in reference to the Bible, state that the ultimate goal of justification is the conversion of a sinner into a righteous believer.
On the other hand, the Bible stipulates that it is only God with the mandate of justifying individuals out of their state of sin. Clearly conceptualized, all forms of justifications have to be God-centered.
For one to be considered justified, God must be involved, either directly through his grace and mercies or by his chosen ones, entrusted with direct instructions to be executed for justification.
Therefore, changes within the sinner do not escalate to their justification in any given way, but it is from God’s declaration that sinners gain their justification.
For instance, Romans 5:9 clearly outlines that believers will be saved from God’s wrath through His blood (Jesus’s blood), tying the justification back to the Holy Trinity: “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”
Lastly, the Bible states that justification does not necessarily be by the works of the law (the Ten Commandments). It even goes a notch further in stating alternative ways of accessing God’s justifications.
A believer’s faith is among the most mentioned means of winning God’s justification, as stated in Romans 3:8, Galatians 2:16, and many other scriptures.
Equally, Christ’s blood is closely linked with God’s justification, as stated in Romans 5:9.
What does it mean to be justified for Christians?
Romans chapter 3 clearly reminds Christians that none of them is righteous before God, except for those who receive his justification and sanctification.
In verse 23, the scripture directly generalizes all believers to have fallen short of God’s glory through sinning, necessitating God’s redemption and justification.
From a Christian perspective, to be justified entails receiving God’s redemption and consequential cleansing of one’s blemishes, back to being considered among God’s righteous ones.
In Romans 3:25, Christians are promised such justification for free by God’s grace, provided they believed in Jesus Christ, who was offered as an atonement sacrifice for the redemption of all.
It is, therefore, rationale to believe that Christian justification begins with the dispense of God’s grace to the intended targets. More so, the justification is accompanied by forgiveness of one’s faultiness and reconciliation with God.
In Romans 9:10, the justified are promised reconciliation with God, regardless of their initial enmity through the death of his son Jesus Christ: “Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac.”
However, Christian justification does not guarantee at any given point that they will not be faced with temptations in the future. Justified individuals are also tempted as before, just like any other sinful, unjustified person.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of the justified ones to accept God’s merciful judgment and live by his grace and mercies to avert the temptations.
The individuals must also ensure that they build their trust in Jesus Christ as their source of justification and redemption from sin.
What is the importance of justification?
Reconciliation with God
Numerous advantages and significance are attached to justification to believers. These significances range from personal benefits between the individual and their belief in God to the entire church.
As aforementioned, God’s justification escalates to forgiveness of one’s sins and consequential reconciliation between the two parties, as mentioned in Romans 9:10.
Such reconciliations yield close and healthy relationships with God, informing timely interventions whenever God’s interventions are needed.
Forgiveness of sin
Besides reconciliation with God, believers are guaranteed forgiveness of their sins regardless of their ambiguity. God’s justification is the only medium Christians are guaranteed to be freed from all things that might result in their transgression.
In Acts 13:39, believers are promised to be freed from all things by God’s justification, even those that The Law of Moses could not alleviate: “Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.”
Consequentially, the forgiveness of sin is accompanied by freedom from personal guilt and condemnation.
The idea by believers of being freed from their initial sins and blemishes results in the clearance of their personal guilt. With an eliminated guilt and any possible condemnation from their peers, believers acquire a safe atmosphere to build a healthy correlation with their God.
Inheritance of eternal life
It is common Christian knowledge that adherence to God’s principles and doctrines, as well as maintenance of a holy life, results in the inheritance of eternal life.
In Mathew 5:20, Jesus teaches his congregants that unless their sanctity supersedes that of Scribes, they will never enter the kingdom of heaven: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
However, God’s justification reverts Jesus’ teachings as it yields sanctity, which earns believers’ souls access to the eternal kingdom provided the purity is maintained.
The justified ones are guaranteed Godly Glory due to their acceptance of Christ as their lord and savior from a state of sin to righteousness.
As much as God’s justification is offered for free, just by believing in Christ and God’s Grace (Romans 3:25), only those who seek it find it.
In Romans 8:30, those who seek God’s justification are also promised to be glorified for their efforts to seek eternal life through justification.
Examples of justifications in the Bible
Abraham’s justification by faith
Despite having a clear path with God’s doctrines and principles at his time, Abraham also had some encounters that could jeopardize his relationship with God.
For instance, he lied both in Gerar and Egypt that Sarah was his sister so as to gain entrance into the respective foreign lands.
In both instances, Abraham sinned, yet he is considered one of the greatest men in the Bible. Abraham’s justification is attributed to his strong faith and belief in God.
Abraham’s faith turned his heart absolutely away from himself to God and God’s promises, yielding to God’s justifications and fulfillment of his promises.
David’s justification by faith
Psalms 32:1 refers to David by stating that blessed are those whose sins are forgiven and covered, referring to his sin of adultery with Bethsheba and the consequential death of Uriah, her husband: “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”
After the sins, David was guilty, unhappy, and convicted himself. However, David placed his hope of salvation and faith in God, who forgives sin.
As a result, God did not add David’s sins to his account but instead credited Jesus’ righteousness to his account, making him to be considered among the righteous.
Justification of the universe by Christ’s Crucifixion
God’s justification of the universe by the crucifixion of his son is one of the most mentioned forms of justification in the Bible. Though righteous, Jesus was punished and even died for believers’ sins so that anyone who believed in him could inherit God’s justification and redemption.
Often, this form of justification is alternatively referred to as justification by blood because of Christ’s blood shed during his transgressions and crucifixion.
In Romans 5:9-18, believers are promised to avert God’s wrath, having been justified by His Blood (Jesus’ blood). It is by faith in Christ that God dispenses his grace to believers for justification and redemption.
Bible Verses about justification
Numerous bible scriptures are about justification, with the majority, such as Romans 3:28, mentioning the term while others, such as Psalms 32:1, indirectly talk of God’s justification.
These scriptures can be generally classified into two clusters: ones talking about the means of God’s justification and the ones focused on the outcomes of the justifications.
Bible scriptures on the means of justification
The majority of the scriptures on justification focus on the means by which believers can access God’s justification. These can further be classified into those focused on justification by faith, justification by blood, and justification by works.
For instance, Acts 13:39 and Luke 18:14 are among the few scriptures focused on justification by faith. On the other hand, scriptures such as Romans 2:13, Romans 4:2, and James 2:21 delve into justifications by works.
Lastly, biblical scriptures such as Romans 5:16 and Romans 5:18 focus on justification by Christ’s Crucifixion, otherwise referred to as justification by blood.
Biblical scriptures on the outcomes of justifications
On the other hand, some biblical scriptures focus on the effects of justification, ranging from forgiveness of sins, salvation from God’s wrath, redemption, and even inheritance of eternal kingdom.
These scriptures include but are not limited to Romans 5:9-18 and Acts 13:39. Further promises tied to God’s justifications include eternal life and peace with God.
Does the concept of justification in the New Testament align with that of the Old Testament?
Justification concepts in the Old Testament significantly align with those outlined in the New Testament. For instance, Apostle Paul, in his teachings in Romans 3:21, refers to King David’s and Abraham’s justifications in the Old Testament.
In teachings, Apostles Paul was demonstrating to his congregants that God’s justification does not necessarily require the Mosaic laws to be actualized.
Equally, both the New and Old Testaments conform to the universal application of the justification concept. The Bible in Romans 3:29-30 urges all believers, be they Gentiles or Jews, to embrace God’s justifications, as he judges all believers based on the same faith.
However, it is worth noting that the New Testament emphasizes justification by blood and faith in Jesus Christ, whereas the Old Testament articulates God’s justification with righteousness, self-preservation, and covenant relationship with God.
As a theologian, I have always been curious to learn more about the Christian Faith. That is why I pursued a Certificate in Christian Studies, Certificate in Christian Foundations and a Masters in Theology. I also have an immersive experience in editing for numerous websites. I have worked as an editor for over a decade and am currently the editor-in-chief at Christian Faith Guide. I enjoy working as an editor and feel privileged to share my expertise and help spread God’s word. You can read more about me on the about us page.