B i b l e   S t u d y

Lesson: What is Justification?

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GOLDEN TEXT:  Romans 5:9-10

"I know that you are guilty of the crime," stated the governor, "but I believe that you are truly sorry and will not do it again. Therefore, I hereby pardon you and release you. You now have a new lease on life." The words of this governor perfectly illustrate the Bible doctrine of justification. But how many Christians truly understand this subject of justification? No one can enter God's Kingdom without being saved, and without being justified from sin!

1. What is a simple definition of justification? Justification is the act, process, or state of being justified by God. To justify means "to prove or pronounce one blameless of some wrong act."

2. Has everyone sinned and come short of the glory of God? (Romans 3:23). Are we justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus? (Verse 24). Is it through justification and the blood of Jesus that we have remissions of our sins? (Verse 25). Is a man justified by faith? (Verse 28).

Note: To be justified, in Bible usage, means to be pronounced not guilty -- not because one has not done wrong, but because one has been forgiven by God for the wrong done. (Romans 3:21-31). Justification is the forgiveness of sin.

3. Are we justified by the blood of Jesus Christ? (Romans 5:9). Are we reconciled to God by the death of his Son? (Verse 10) Are we saved by His life?

Note: Justification is made possible by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

4. After our total spiritual cleansing by God, does God view us as being righteous? (Romans 3:21-31).

Note: This righteousness is not something we earn: rather, it is imputed to us when we are justified by faith. God forgives us totally and gives us His own Spirit of righteousness.

5. Did God impute or credit Abraham with righteousness because of Abraham's faith, which resulted in his justification? (Romans 4:1-8).

Note: Abraham had not earned such favor. But God imputed righteousness to him after forgiving his sins, because Abraham had faith.

6. Forgiveness of sin is coupled with a pronouncement of righteousness. Justification does not come automatically. It has conditions. Can a person, or a Pharisee, justify himself? (Luke 16:14-15).

Note: Only God can justify a person. People cannot justify themselves with verbal pronouncements of innocence, for they are not innocent. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23).

7. Did the Pharisee in the parable of the ‘Publican and the Pharisee’ try to justify himself? (Luke 18:9-14).

Note: The Pharisee listed all the good he had done, in the hope that God would see his righteousness. But Christ said that the publican, not the Pharisee, went down to his house justified. The publican truly repented of his sins, and God imputed His own righteousness to him.

8. Was Abraham justified by faith and not works? (Romans 4:1-8). Isn’t it true that no flesh will be justified in God’s sight by the deeds of the law? (Romans 3:20). Will any man be justified by the law? (Galatians 3:11 and 2:16).

Note: Please do not misunderstand! These verses do not mean that we need not keep the law. Notice plainly that one cannot earn justification by anything he or she alone says or does.

9. How, then, can we be justified? How can we find forgiveness and have God's righteousness imputed to us? (Romans 3:24).

Note: We must realize that it all happens by God's grace. Grace is simply unmerited favor. To be justified by grace therefore means that justification is a gift that God gives -- not something we earn. It is given because of God's goodness, not ours.

10. Is justification through faith? (Acts 13:39, Romans 3:26,Galatians 3:8, 24).

Note: Those who believe and have faith are justified.

11. Is faith the belief that God exists and will do what He says He will (Hebrews 11:6).

Note: When God calls a person and grants the person the gift of repentance (Romans 2:4), He extends forgiveness to the person when he or she, turns from sin and begins to obey God. Hence justification involves grace and faith. As Ephesians 2:8 says, it is by ‘grace through faith’. It is because of God's favor and not our own goodness, but faith is a necessary condition. But even this faith is not something the person alone supplies. True faith is a gift from God. It is not found naturally in any person (Galatians 5:22). Yet it requires a person's cooperation.

12. Here is how it works: When God decides to call a person, that person at first responds to God with only human belief. But it is belief backed by action. As James 2:26 says, "Faith without works is dead."

The first action is repentance -- the act of ceasing to sin and changing one's whole life to obey God in everything God commands.

The next step is baptism, which follows after` belief and repentance (Acts 2:38).

It is only at baptism that one's sins are finally forgiven. It is only then that we are justified and our sins are covered by Christ's shed blood (Romans 5:9).

As a result of baptism and the laying on of hands, we receive God's Holy Spirit and are filled with true faith. Thus the process starts with human belief but leads to Christ's own faith being placed in us.

13. Many believe that once you are justified, you need not keep God's law. But to say we are not justified by the law (which is true) is something totally different from saying that we don't need to keep the law (which is false). Romans 2:13 makes this truth plain: "For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified."

You will not be saved because your obedience earns it, but your disobedience can and will disqualify you.

In Conclusion:.

Justification is the process by which God forgives a person's sins by grace through faith. It implies not only forgiveness, but imputing to the person a positive state of righteousness in God's eyes. It is not earned through obedience, but requires repentance and keeping God's law.


Scripture Reading:  

God's Righteousness Through Faith

(Romans 3:21-31 KJV) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; {22} Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: {23} For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; {24} Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: {25} 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; {26} To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. {27} Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? No: but by the law of faith. {28} Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. {29} Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: {30} Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. {31} Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Golden Text: (Romans 5:9-10 KJV) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. {10} For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

1. See Scripture Reading.

2. See Scripture Reading.

3. (Romans 5:9-10 KJV) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. {10} For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

4. See Scripture Reading.

5. (Romans 4:1-8 KJV) What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? {2} For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. {3} For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. {4} Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. {5} But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. {6} Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, {7} Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. {8} Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

6. (Luke 16:14-15 KJV) And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. {15} And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

7. (Luke 18:9-14 KJV) And he spake this parable unto some which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: {10} Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. {11} The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. {12} I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. {13} And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. {14} I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

8. See #5.

(Romans 3:20 KJV) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

(Galatians 3:11 KJV) But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

(Galatians 2:16 KJV) Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

9. (Romans 3:24 KJV) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

10. (Acts 13:39 KJV) And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

(Romans 3:26 KJV) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

(Galatians 3:8 KJV) And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

(Galatians 3:24 KJV) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

11. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

(Romans 2:4 KJV) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

(Ephesians 2:8-10 KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast. {10} For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

(Galatians 5:22-23 KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, {23} Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

12. (James 2:26 KJV) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

(Acts 2:38 KJV) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

13. (Romans 2:13 KJV) (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.