justification – (Greek dikaiosis (dik-ah-yo-sis)) the act of justifying or state of being justified; to render just or innocent: free; righteous.
justify – (Greek dikaioo (dik-ah-yo-o)) 1. to show or prove to be valid. 2. to declare free of blame: ABSOLVE. 3. To free (a person) from the penalty attached to grievous sin. – Used only of God.
The Greek word “dikaiosis” is derived from the verb meaning “to acquit.” I’ve watched enough crime dramas to know that if a person is taken to trial and acquitted, they are free to go, right then and there. In the United States, this verdict goes so far as to ban retrial for the same offense. The accused is irrevocably justified.
The Bible tells us in Romans 5:18, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men resulting in justification of life.” Adam and Eve committed the first crime against God in the Garden of Eden and ushered in a new era of separation between mankind and the Creator.
By their sin and our own, we are all guilty (Romans 3:23) and deserve the death penalty (Romans 6:23) according to God’s law, but because the blood of Christ justifies us, we are saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9).
As Christians, this doesn’t mean no sentence was served for our sins. Because God is just and righteous our sins cannot go unpunished. Instead, the penalty for our sins was paid on the cross, by His Son.
Because Christ was without sin, only His sacrifice on the cross can justify us.
We are rendered just because He paid the price.
We have been absolved of our guilt.
We are free from the penalty of our sins.
“Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28)” Our faith in Christ is the means by which we are justified; not our good works or obedience.
Justification is both an act entirely accomplished in the past yet only fulfilled in the future when Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). Because it was finished on the cross, we look forward with great hope, not despair, to His return. His blood declares us free of blame for every sin that ever has been or ever will be committed.
Justification enables us to both live at peace now with God and filled with hope for our future.
Have you seen those people who have been acquitted? Their entire countenance is changed as soon as the judge declares the verdict. Relief floods their body. Joy lights their face. Hope returns to their eyes.
May it be so for us, too, when we realize that by Christ’s work on the cross, we are acquitted. Justified.
How might living with this verdict change your life?