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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible

Justification

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Justification. A term used to imply the declaring or accounting of a person just or righteous before God. If any one were free from sin, if he perfectly obeyed God's commandments, he would really be just, not exposed to the penalty of transgression. Romans 2:13. But mankind, as sinful, are not just in this sense, and cannot be so treated. Psalms 143:2; Romans 3:19-20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8. If, then, they are to be freed from the condemnation of sin, if they are to be dealt with as those not amenable to God's law, it must be not by the establishment of their innocence, but by the remission of their guilt. And it was for this that the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world, and offered himself a sacrifice for sin, that men might be delivered from the condemnation into which their sins had cast them. Romans 3:24-25; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:2. The Scripture therefore teaches that we are justified by faith in Christ. Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16. This doctrine is thus expressed in the eleventh article of the Anglican church: "We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort." The originating cause of justification is God's free grace and loving pity for a fallen world. John 3:16; Romans 6:8; Ephesians 2:4-8. The meritorious cause is the sinless life and sacrificial death of Christ, Romans 4:25, for the virtue of which God could without moral fault, or detriment to justice, remit sin. The instrumental cause is faith, whereby we receive the atonement, accepting God's mercy on the terms on which he offers it. Romans 3:30; Romans 5:11. Those who are so justified are at peace with God, and have all the advantages of such a state of reconciliation. Romans 5:1-2. Justified men desire and endeavor to walk in holiness of life. Romans 8:1. Gratitude for the mercy received will incline them to do that which is well pleasing in God's sight. They feel that they have been purchased to be his, and must glorify him in their body and their spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:20. This will be their mark, the token, the proof that they are no longer enemies, but friends; not sentenced culprits, but beloved children. Should any not so walk and act, they cannot be God's children. Such a faith as theirs, a faith which worketh not by love, is empty and useless. James 2:17; James 2:26. Abraham's obedience was the proof that he possessed that faith which was counted to him for righteousness. Of justification, then, it may be briefly said that—1, its source is the grace of God; 2, its ground the mediatorial work of Christ; 3, faith the way by which we receive it; and, 4, the holy life of a believer the evidence of its possession; or, yet more briefly, it is originally by grace, meritoriously by Christ, instrumentally by faith, evidentially by good works.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Justification'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/rpd/j/justification.html. 1893.

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