What is justification by faith, part 1?

by Rick Brentlinger
(Pace, FL, USA)

Jesus died as us for us<br>in our place as our Substitute

Jesus died as us for us
in our place as our Substitute

Justification by faith is God's legal ruling that a sinner is not guilty, is declared innocent and now stands before God clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ, received as a free gift, Romans 5:17, 6:23, not through any works the saved sinner did.

God's legal declaration is based on the historical truth that Jesus has already paid for our sins and God the Father has already accepted His payment. Therefore, when you repent of your sins and trust Jesus Christ, you can be saved without working to earn your salvation.

Justification by faith distinguishes Biblical Christianity from religious cults, Catholicism and everyone else who teaches salvation by faith plus something. The Bible sets the standard of justification by faith plus nothing as the only way to be saved.

1. The Need for Justification

a. "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" and are therefore unacceptable to God, Isaiah 64:6.

b. No human being is righteous, Romans 3:10.

c. The unrighteous cannot inherit God’s kingdom, 1 Corinthians 6:9

d. God will give us His righteousness as a free gift apart from works if we believe in Him, Romans 4:6

2. The Meaning of Justification

To justify means that God declares us righteous although we did no righteous works, Romans 4:6. We are still sinners but God views us as having the perfect righteousness of Christ because God freely gives us the righteousness of Christ. It is as if we had never sinned and never would.

To justify someone is the opposite of condemning them. To justify goes beyond declaring you, Not guilty. To justify someone declares that person’s innocence so that, when God justifies you, He as the Supreme Judge of the Universe, declares you innocent. Meditate on that until it grips your heart and brightens your day. NO ONE can overrule God's decision. Justify is a judicial term, explained in Deuteronomy 25:1.
“If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.”
Justification is the opposite of condemnation and condemnation is the opposite of justification, Deuteronomy 25:1; Romans 5:16-19.

To justify does not mean to make us righteous. Saved people are declared righteous by God but we are still sinners. Our standing in Christ is that we are justified, forensically declared innocent and righteous and therefore, in God’s eyes, sinless.

Our state is that we are saved sinners who although we are already spiritually seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:6, are still in the flesh until the rapture, 2 Corinthians 5:1-4.

Imputed righteousness is not based upon our good works. Imputed righteousness is based upon the perfect righteousness of Christ that He freely gives us when we get saved.

This concept is explained in Luke 7:29 where the people justified God. They did not make God right, they simply declared God to be right.

3. The Problem of Justification

a. How can God be just (holy and righteous) and at the same time justify a sinner who believes on Jesus Christ? Jesus died on the cross, shedding His blood to pay for our sins. God accepted the death of Jesus and the blood He shed as payment for our sins, Romans 3:25-26.

b. How can a holy God justify ungodly guilty sinners? Calvary provides the answer. God took our sins upon Himself (Jesus is God, John 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 1:8), paid for our sins with His blood thus satisfying the demands of God's justice. On that basis, when we believe on Jesus, God can freely forgive our sins because,

(1) He has already paid in full for all of them and

(2) God has already accepted Jesus' payment, which acceptance He indicated when He raised Jesus from the dead, Roman 8:11.

Our sins against God deserved the death penalty. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezekiel 18:4, 20, Romans 6:23. Yet rather than making us pay the penalty we deserved, Jesus took our place and paid the death penalty for our sins.

God accepted the payment Jesus made for us and demonstrated His acceptance by raising Jesus from the dead, Romans 8:11, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

Salvation for us is as simple as accepting what God has already accepted, the death of Jesus as payment in full for all our sins. Jesus’ death in our place as our substitute, satisfied the justice of God. Salvation is as simple as swapping your sins for God's righteousness. He takes your sins - you take His righteousness.

Jesus as a member of the Trinitarian Godhead Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, Colossians 2:9, paid for our sins. God the Father as a member of the Godhead, accepted Jesus’ payment.

Now God the Holy Spirit, as a member of the Godhead, applies salvation and justifies everyone including homosexuals who believe in Jesus.

Getting saved is never automatic for anyone but salvation is freely available to everyone through Jesus Christ. God commands "all men every where" to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, Acts 17:30-31.

4. The Basis of Justification

The only basis for justification is Christ’s penal substitutionary sacrifice of Himself on the cross, dying in our place, as our substitute, bearing the penalty we deserved, Galatians 3:13. "In his own body on the tree" (the cross), Jesus bore all God's wrath against our sins, suffered all the punishment we deserved, completely paid the price for our sins so that we would not have to face God's wrath, Romans 5:9. Because Jesus died in our place, we are: "Justified by His blood... and saved from wrath" Romans 5:9, 1 Peter 3:18, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 53:4-6.

Joining a church, getting baptized, going through catechism, confessing our sins to a priest, giving up alcohol for Lent, rote prayers, religious good works, sincerity and good intentions are NOT part of getting saved or staying saved. Religion is never a substitute for Calvary. Good works are never a substitute for grace.

God poured His wrath against our sins upon Jesus. Because God punished Jesus in our place, as our substitute, we can be saved.

When we trust Jesus, we exchange the filthy rags of our sin, Isaiah 64:6, for the perfect righteousness of Christ, Philippians 3:9. God as the Judge of all the earth, Genesis 18:25, allowed Jesus to pay the death penalty we deserved.

That’s what we mean when we say Jesus died as us for us in our place, Romans 8:3-4; 2 Cor 5:21. Because Jesus already paid for our sins and God accepted His payment, the Judge of all the earth now has a legal basis on which to forgive our sins.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior, God forgives our sins and imputes (freely gives) to us the perfect righteousness of Christ. Think about that and praise God for it. Our sins are paid for and God has already accepted the payment.

When we trust Jesus, God gives us His righteousness so that our status before God is perfect and sinless. Instead of asking us to work to earn salvation, God requires only that we believe Him, Romans 4:5, 10:9-10, 13.

Jesus died in my place as my substitute. When I believe that, Jesus forgives my sins and gives me His righteousness, Isaiah 54:4-6, 2 Corinthians 5:21, which results in eternal life, Romans 6:23, as a present possession, John 3:36, 1 John 5:12.

God’s plan was to pay for our sins Himself and then, because our sins were paid for, to offer the free gift of salvation to all who will receive it, Revelation 22:17. If we could work to earn our salvation, then the death of Jesus would have been in vain, Galatians 2:21.

5. The Source of Justification

Salvation is all of God, always by grace, never by works, never by grace infused through a church. According to the next verse, is justification a free gift of God’s grace or is it something we earn by good works?

"Being justified freely by His grace," Romans 3:24. Free Gift or Earned - Circle one.

What is the wages of sin, Romans 6:23? _____

What is the gift of God? ________________

Who gives us eternal life? ______________

With what attitude should we approach God for His mercy, _______________ 1 Peter 5:5?

How does God react when we approach Him with humility, Luke 18:13-14? _________________

Aren’t you glad that Christians are not under ____ but under ______, Romans 6:14?

What is justification by faith, part 2?

What is justification by faith, Part 3

What is justification by faith, Part 4

What is justification by faith, Part 5

Is blood atonement
necessary for salvation?

Can I know for sure
I’m going to heaven?

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Comments for What is justification by faith, part 1?

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Nov 30, 2014
Being Gay and Christian
by: David

I do not understand why some are so judgmental. Christ said at the cross "It Is Finished", I just don't understand then why some still insist on living under the Law and judge others. We can never be justified under the Law and that is why He completely fulfilled the Law and paid the price for all of our sin.

We must first come to the cross and see how we all have fallen short and only then will we not judge others based on their shortcomings but instead fulfill His law by loving the Lord our God first and then love our neighbor and proclaim His love to others.

Why do my brothers and sisters in Christ think Homosexuality is a sin greater than any other, we are all broken in some manner or other. If you choose to think loving someone of the same sex is such a great sin think about your own sin first.

He made it simple therefore do not complicate His love by judging others because we are all broken. Share His love and grace and do not condemn. You only make yourself like a Pharisee and rob Him of His grace and glory

Mar 23, 2015
I love this teaching!!!
by: Jonas

I love this teaching. Never heard it before. I wish the gay church I go to would teach this. Is it okay if I print copies and pass them out?

I feel secure in Jesus because I'm depending on him instead of good works that I do. What a blessing!

Rick's comment: Hi Jonas - Yes, you are welcome to print copies of our pages and pass them out. God bless you brother.

Nov 18, 2015
What is Gay Christian?
by: Andrew

I came across this site when I'm searching for a way to tell people why not to judge ANY other sinner. But I felt puzzled when I saw d phrase "Gay Christian". Does it mean we can continue being a gay even after we have accepted Christ?

Rick's comment: Hi Andrew - Yes, that is what this website is about. On the issue of judging, I have a page which you may find helpful.

Are Christians supposed to judge?

Jun 08, 2017
Debating Catholics
by: Christopher

What do you say when debating Catholic interpretations, such as Faith & Acts, like what is brought up in the book of James?

Rick's comment: Hi Christopher - Great question. God revealed the New Testament doctrine of justification by faith to Paul, not to James. There is no conflict between Paul's view of justification and James' view of justification, even though our Catholic friends sometimes assert there is a conflict.

Notice that Paul in Rom 2:13 and James in James 1:22, 2:14 are not in conflict. Paul writes to a Gentile church in Rome yet also addresses himself to unsaved people, Rom 2:12, including unsaved Jews, Acts 28:17ff. James writes to the twelve tribes of Israel, a group which contains saved Jews, James 2:1.

Paul writes about the law and justification by faith from a doctrinal viewpoint. James writes about the law and justification from a practical viewpoint. When Paul speaks of justification, he refers doctrinally to the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

When James speaks of justification, he refers to a practical demonstration of Christ’s righteousness lived out in the life of a believer, not the imputation of righteousness.

In Romans 2, Paul is saying the ground is level at the foot of the cross; everyone is equal at Calvary, Romans 2:11, because there is no respect of persons with God. In James 2, James is rebuking saved Jews for their partiality toward rich folks. He speaks about practical justification, not doctrinal justification. James tells them to be like God in the way they relate to others and stop having respect of persons, Rom 2:11.

In Romans 2, Gentiles and Jews have sinned against their conscience and are therefore guilty. In James 2, Jews have sinned against the law and are therefore guilty.

The context of James isn’t an unsaved Jew trying to get saved by keeping the law. The context of James is a saved Jew who is reading the OT and trying to live up to what the OT tells him, in plainer words, practical justification, not salvation by works and not salvation by keeping the law.

I hope this is helpful Christopher.

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