What does “Justified” mean to a Believer in Jesus Christ?
Romans Chap 5v1. Therefore since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us grasp the fact that we have the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ the Messiah, the Anointed One.
Strong’s translates the word justified; as to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered.
To declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be.
You Christian believer have been declared righteous (justified) by God the great judge, and given a status of grace and favour with Him. This is through your faith.
How can God who is a good judge, declare you righteous, not guilty, innocent of your failings and unrighteous acts?
If you went to court and were plainly proven guilty during the course of your trial, the judge would have to impose a sentence that the guidelines of the law required.
If the judge made up his own sentence or said something like, “ I am in a good mood today and I find the defendant really funny so I am acquitting him even though he is guilty and justice demands that he is punished”. That judge would not be a good judge and would probably be disbarred.
The judge has to weigh up the facts and with his or her expert knowledge of the law, make an appropriate judgement and sentence accordingly.
Now the Great Judge, God, has declared that the wages of sin is death. So how can He declare now you are innocent? Many Christians will say, “He has forgiven us through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.” Or they will say, “The blood of Jesus has washed my sin away”. Both these statements are true but they do not carry the full impact of what has caused God to declare us righteous. We have not been sentenced and our consciences still condemn us.
If that was the total of what has happened, God would still know I did things I wasn’t punished for, I would know I did bad things and be glad He has forgiven me. And yet, I would still carry the shame and regret and sorrow of my past, and even embarrassment in God’s presence because, “He knows all about me! What I am really like”.
Let me tell you a parable here to bring some more truth into our problem with our conscience.
A man brutally assaulted and raped a woman in his home. She laid charges and he was arrested and brought to trial. The whole town was talking about this case. The court was packed on the day of sentencing. The judge had found the man absolutely guilty of the charges. As he is about to pass sentence the woman victim stands up and says, “Sir, I would like to withdraw all charges. I have chosen to forgive the man. He has said he is sorry.”
The judge then bangs down his gavel and says case dismissed, the prisoner is free to go.
Everyone would be talking about how lucky the man was to be free even though he is such a brute and totally guilty. He would be shunned. The man himself would carry the shame and consequences of his actions for the rest of his life.
This is the state of many Christians. They know they are Forgiven, but they are still trapped by the weight of their past. They carry guilt and shame. They think there is always someone around them who is a better Christian than they are.
Now lets go back to that courtroom at the time of judgment and consider a different scenario. As the judge considers the facts, he says, “this man looks the same as the man who did this, he even lives in the same house but he is not the same man. The man who did this evil deed is in fact dead. This is not the same man. You are acquitted of all charges as you are innocent! You may leave the court.”
There would be a surge of approval through the courtroom. Justice has been done.
People would flock around the defendant and tell him how glad they are this is over and that he has been totally exonerated and his name cleared. The judge would be commended for seeing justice has been done and that he has declared the man righteous and innocent of all charges.
The man would know that he is innocent would not carry any guilt or regret into his future. People in his community would know he was innocent and not talk about him. He would get on with his life with no shame, guilt or regret.
Now lets see what this means to you and I the New Testament believer in Jesus Christ.
All of us were sinners. Gone astray. Trapped in our sin and iniquities. Even good people fall short of God’s standard of perfection.
And then by the grace of God and the drawing of the Holy Spirit we come to Christ. We receive Jesus, believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths “He is Lord.” We call upon His name and decide to follow Him.
Now lets look at what actually happens legally to allow the Great Judge, our Father, at this point to declare us righteous.
Rom chap 6v3-7. “Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead, so we too might live and behave in newness of life. For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be one with him by sharing His resurrection by a new life lived for God.”
We know that our old unrenewed self was nailed to the cross with Him that our body, which is the instrument of sin, might be made ineffective and inactive for evil that we may no longer be slaves of sin. For when a man dies he is freed from the power of sin. If we have died with Christ we shall also live with him.
Remember the wages of sin is death. Well God the Great Judge has seen this law obeyed to the full. We sinned and therefore we died. How? In Christ Jesus on the cross!
God reckons us to be in Christ Jesus. 1Cor 6v17 tells us that the person who is united to the Lord is one Spirit with Him. If you join yourself to Christ you are one spirit with Him.
2 Cor 5v14. “The love of Christ compels us that if One died for all, then all died.”
Just as in the parable I shared the one who did the crime died and the one who was charged was not that man, but was innocent of all charges, so you are not the person who has done all the bad stuff. That person has been crucified in Christ Jesus on the cross and has died. You live in the same house, your body. You look like that person and even feel like that person but you are not that person. The old you is dead!
Paul says it like this in Galatians 2 v 20. “ I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me”.
The New Testament believer has been crucified in Christ and raised to new life.
He or she is a brand new creature 2Cor 5v17. The old spiritual and moral condition has passed away. Behold the fresh and new has come.