JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
Literally, the word- Justification means pronouncing a culpable or guilty person innocent, hence, scrapping whatever punishment such a guilty fellow would have faced because of the offence he committed. “Justification By Faith” therefore, as it concerns man Biblically, implies that God has “discharged and acquitted” man of his sins and saved him from eternal destruction, simply on the basis of man accepting, believing and having faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. By having faith in Christ, Christ’s righteousness becomes ours.
God in his infinite mercy does not want man to perish because as a sinner, he is doomed to destruction, hence, God provided an acceptable means through which man can be transformed from being sinful to being righteous. However, without faith, man cannot receive God’s justification, since faith itself is a pre-condition for receiving this justification.
Meaning and Fruits of Justification-Romans 3:21-24; 5:1-11
According to Paul, the Jewish religious laws in the Old Testament served the purpose of presenting side-by-side God’s holiness and man’s sinful nature, which constantly reminded man of his inability to keep the Law. Thus, on his own or by his own effort, man cannot keep God’s Law thereby removing that barrier between him and God. The Law therefore only brought to light the sinful nature of man.
The only remedy was therefore God’s decision to present Jesus Christ to die for man’s sins, so that whoever believes in him through his faith will be considered qualified to receive justification.
Paul also tried to point out the need for spreading the gospel for people to be aware of Christ through whom only by faith, they would be justified. He also emphasized that it was through faith that one can enter into a special spiritual relationship with God. ‘Works’ alone cannot earn God’s forgiveness of sin. Justification therefore is a state in which man’s sin is overlooked by God as a saving grace to eternal life. Paul explains it this way:
“But now, the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:21-24)
The summary of the meaning of justification according to Paul is that faith in Jesus Christ alone is man’s requirement to qualify for redemption offered by Jesus, by his death for man’s sin. Faith itself is the total and conscious acceptance of Jesus’ death as a means of restoring man to fellowship with him.
For man to be justified by faith therefore entails man’s acceptance of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus as God’s plan to blot out man’s guilt of sin, thereby declaring him guiltless and innocent in His sight.
Whosoever is justified by faith has his sins forgiven and is therefore no more guilty of sin. He is free from eternal condemnation and qualified for God’s blessing. Again, he is at peace with God (Romans 5 :1), as well as has access to His glory and grace. The justified fellow can now rejoice even in his sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance; endurance producing character and character producing hope.
Furthermore, the justified fellow will have the blood of Jesus save him from God’s wrath as he must have been reconciled to God by reason of the death of His Son. Finally, he can now rejoice in God through Jesus Christ, through whom he has received reconciliation (Romans 5:1-11). Justification cannot be attained by man’s effort.
Role of Faith in the Life of Today’s Christians
- Faith in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection assures christians of eternal life.
- Proves to christians that they are no longer under the Law but under Grace.
- Christians face life’s race, pursuits, aspirations, ambitions etc. with courage as a result of faith.
- Faith brings about patience to God’s answer to our prayers.
- Faith enables christians to receive miracles, signs and wonders.
- Faith enables christians to believe in whatever is written in the Bible.
Summary of Paul’s Conditions for Achieving Justification
- Man must acknowledge that justification is a gift of God’s grace and cannot therefore be achieved through man’s effort or self-righteousness.
- Man must believe on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as a prerequisite for Justification.
- Man must confess his faith with his own lips and through his actions. Righteousness of the Law cannot achieve justification for man, but faith in Jesus Christ.
- Man must acknowledge that he is a sinner, foremost, before he can aspire to justification.
- Man’s perfection cannot earn him justification.
- Man is no longer under the Law but under Grace, by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- Belief and faith in Jesus is therefore the only criterion for man to be justified by God for reconciliation and eternal life ..
- Justification has fruits, the greatest of which is the remission of sin and consequent reconciliation to God.