Justification Encyclopedia


Justification. The verb “to justify” means 'to declare a person righteous'. A nice example of this is in Num. 23:21, where God declared that He had not seen any iniquity in His erring people. Likewise, the Christian has been justified in that, while he has not lived righteously, yet God has declared him perfectly righteous! The subject of justification is fully treated of in the book of Romans, primarily in the first eight chapters. Romans answers the question asked by Job many years ago: “How shall a man be just with God?” (Job 9:2).1

But then, there are many aspects of justification. Justification in Romans is how we are declared righteous before God on the basis of faith, which no man can see; justification in James is how we are declared righteous outwardly by our works, which is the proof of inward reality. God doesn't need to see our works to know we have faith, but if there are no works, our faith is dead. It is important to see that justification in the full sense is more than just being cleared of all charges (Rom. 3). Many Christians think that justification is nothing more than forgiveness, or non-imputation of sin. However, justification goes beyond the negative side (forgiveness) and includes the positive side, i.e. that we have been brought into a new position before God “in Christ” (Rom. 4) and given a righteous life (Rom. 5)! Several aspects of justification:

  • Justified by grace – the source or cause (Rom. 3:24; Titus 3:7)
  • Justified by [or through] faith – the means of appropriation (Rom. 5:1; Gal. 2:16)
  • Justified by blood – the price or power (Rom. 5:9)
  • Justification of life – the possession of a righteous life (Rom. 5:18)
  • Justified from sin – no obligation to our old master (Rom. 6:7)
  • Justified by God – declared righteous by God (Rom. 8:33)
  • Justified in Christ – the righteous standing (Gal. 2:17)
  • Justified by works – manifested in our life (James 2:24)
Justification and Reconciliation. Justification is the first part of a double work of God. Justification has to do with a change of thinking in God's mind. God reckons the believer as righteous. Reconciliation has to do with a change of thinking in the believer's mind. The sinner's thoughts of enmity toward God are replaced with a believer's rejoicing in God. Read more...
Justification and Sanctification. Justification had to do with being declared righteous, and sanctification has to do with being declared or made holy! Therefore justification is closely connected with the subject of righteousness, and sanctification with the subject of holiness. Read more…
Is Old Testament justification the same as New Testament justification? Abraham was “justified,” but not in the full New Testament sense of justification, which involves being brought into a new position before God “in Christ” risen (Gal. 2:17). However, the principle of faith on which Old Testament saints and New Testament saints are blessed is the same, which is Paul's point here. The Old Testament saints received absolution for each sin they committed; but never were brought into a new position through the blood of Christ, because it hadn’t been shed yet. They were shut out from entering into the holiest by the separating veil. However, while justification was not revealed before the cross, God did justify anticipatively. David only knew of sins being covered (held in abeyance for one more year) as the Day of Atonement indicates (Lev. 16). But today, with the work of Christ having been accomplished, we have a fuller revelation through the Gospel as to what God has done with our sins. We know that our sins are taken away, not just covered (1 John 3:5). And now, a new and living way has been opened for us! The “offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” is complete, and we have “no more conscience of sins”!
  1. In Romans we get primarily justification, where in Hebrews we get primarily sanctification.