What does it mean to be justified?

The Bible teaches us that we "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). Not only are we unfit for the presence of God on account of our sins, for which we know we have forgiveness through believing on Jesus, but we also find that we are totally unable to make ourselves right with God by our own efforts. We therefore need to be justified (made right) in order to become suitable for His presence.

How can we be justified?

Many try to justify themselves, to make excuses, or to try to make up for past mistakes, and hope that God will accept their efforts. But God has made it very clear in the Bible, which tells us "There is none righteous, no, not one." (Romans 3:10).

The Bible teaches that justification is by faith alone. It is seen in Abraham, of whom it is said, he "believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Romans 4:3). We cannot be made right on the basis of our works or efforts - the prophet Isaiah says that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6).

Justified by faith

Abraham believed not just that God existed, but had faith that God was able to carry out promises made to him in spite of the circumstances in which Abraham was found (Genesis 15:6).

It was on the basis of that faith that God reckoned (or counted) Abraham righteous. We are reckoned righteous in the same way, as we believe not just that God exists, but that He is able to forgive us our sins because Jesus met every righteous requirement of God when He died in our place on Calvary's cross.

Why do we need to be justified?

We are reckoned as righteous (justified) by God in order that God may have us to be suitable for His presence, now and eternally. God is righteous and hates sin. He loves us so much that He provided His own Son as sacrifice for sin, so that He may count as righteous all who believe Him and put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus. How could any one of us be in the presence of a holy God with the matter of our sins not dealt with?

The believer in Jesus is "...justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood..." (Romans 3:24-25). This reassures us that God is fully satisfied with all that Jesus has done, and we stand as freely justified on the basis of that completed work.

[Reproduced with permission]