By What Are We Justified?

Text: Romans 8:29-30

The concept of justification is of major importance in the gospel. But what does it mean to be justified? It means that God recognizes us as righteous or right before Him. This divine recognition is key – we cannot declare ourselves to be righteous, we are righteous if God labels us that way (justifies us). So how can we be justified? The New Testament mentions several things by which we are justified.

By God’s Grace (Romans 3:24)

  • We have been “justified as a gift by His grace” (Romans 3:24; cf. Titus 3:7) – this means it is not something we have earned; grace is unmerited favor; we cannot do enough good things to justify ourselves apart from God’s grace (cf. Romans 3:23)
  • This is “through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” – we need to recognize that justification is by grace through Christ; that means that those who are outside of Christ cannot stand justified before God; regardless of how “good” or “moral” someone is, God does not recognize them as being right if they are outside of Christ

By Christ’s Blood (Romans 5:9)

  • We have been “justified by His blood” (Romans 5:9) – again, through the redemption in Christ (Romans 3:24); we can be reconciled to God through the death of Christ (Romans 5:10)
  • How do we gain access to the blood of Christ? – the cleansing blood of Jesus was the blood He shed in His death (Colossians 1:20); we contact that blood when we are baptized into Him (Matthew 26:28; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3); when we do this, we are washed, sanctified, and justified (1 Corinthians 6:11)

By Our Faith (Romans 5:1)

  • We have been “justified by faith” (Romans 5:1) – contrast with being justified by “works of the Law” (Romans 3:28); the purpose of the Law was to lead us to Christ so we could be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24)
  • Example of Abraham (Romans 4:3) – he trusted God’s promises (Romans 4:19-22); we need to have the same type of faith (Romans 4:23-25); faith in Christ and His resurrection; if we believe that Jesus was raised, we can believe that we will be too (1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

By Our Humility (Luke 18:14)

  • Jesus told a parable in which He contrasted a Pharisee with a tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) – the Pharisee was arrogant (Luke 18:11-12); the tax collector was humble (Luke 18:13) and was justified (Luke 18:14)
  • Remember what justification is – God declaring us to be right/righteous; this necessarily means we must humble ourselves before Him (James 4:6)

By Our Words (Matthew 12:37)

  • Jesus warned that we would be judged for the words that we speak (Matthew 12:36) – will result in either justification or condemnation (Matthew 12:37)
  • This means we need to be careful of the words that we use – speak those things that are good (Ephesians 4:25, 29); avoid speaking those things that are bad (lying, gossip, false teaching, etc.)

By Our Works (James 2:24)

  • We discussed Abraham earlier – he was justified by faith (Romans 4:3); in contrast with “works of the Law” (Romans 3:28); but many want this to be all works; James explained the necessity of works in faith (James 2:20-24)
  • If we do not practice the right works, our faith is dead (James 2:17, 26) – we must be doers of the word (James 1:22); must practice righteousness to be righteous (1 John 3:7)

Conclusion

  • God has made it possible for us to be justified – right before Him
  • We must take advantage of the plan He has given whereby we can be justified

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