Justification is a fundamental
Justification is a fundamental doctrine that is at the heart of the Gospel. The word justification comes from the root word “just” (Gr: dikaios) which means ” to be equitable (in character or act); and by implication innocent, holy: or just, meet, right” according to Strong’s dictionary. This word with its related forms occurs some 30 times in Romans.
Paul in the first 2 chapters of Romans builds up a case for God’s righteous judgment on all mankind since all mankind is under sin (Rom 3:9). In Rom 3:23 his argument reaches a crescendo when he declares “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Now, the consistent teaching of the Old Testament is that the just punishment for sin is death (Deu 24:16; 2Sa 12:13; Eze 18:4, 20). This by implication is not just physical death but eternal death. Hence going by Rom 3:23 it is just and meet for God to let all mankind die in their sins. He is perfectly just in sending everyone to hell. This is terrible news — if we stop at Romans 3:23.
However, the bad news is then succeeded by the good news –” being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;” (v24). This means that we are “justified” or “put right before God” by grace (not by our works) through the redemption (in this context it means deliverance) that is available in Jesus Christ.
How can He put us right before him when we are still in the flesh, still not completely free from sin? Would this not compromise God’s own standard of judgment as revealed in the Old Testament? This is what justification seeks to answer. Justification is a legal declaration on God’s part that we are righteous. He imputes our sin (past, present and future) to Jesus and Jesus’ righteousness (through his perfect fulfillment of the Law) to us. God put Jesus to death and treated him as sin – meaning that he considered him to be The sinner who committed all the sins in the world – and he treats us as if we lived a perfectly obedient life like him (Isa 53:11; Rom 5:19; 2Co 5:21; 1Pe 2:24). In justification, therefore, we have the credit of righteousness to our account and also the forgiveness of sins (Rom 4:7-8)
This righteousness of Christ is appropriated by faith. The moment we appropriate it we stand justified before God. It is a one time event. Faith in itself does not contribute any good works but is a gift given by God (v24 and Eph 2:8). It is just a medium of receiving this righteousness of Christ, so that it is only God who is both ” just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. ” (Rom 3:26).
To sum up, Justification is being legally declared righteous before God through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness on the sinner. It is appropriated by faith and it is a one time act.
Roman Catholic Church confuses justification with sanctification and sees it as a process rather than an event. She teaches that along with faith are needed our works of satisfaction to really become “just” before God so that He can declare us so. This is a far cry from the truth.