Justified freely

Romans 3:23-24  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

The redemption that is in Christ Jesus, unfolds towards man in different stages, to those who first trusted in Christ, the body of Christ, Eph 1:11-12, and then all things in heaven and on earth, Eph 1:10, 1Ti 4:9&10. There is different doctrinal beliefs in today’s Christian world concerning salvation and being justified by grace. In order to understand what it means to be justified, the word itself should be defined, and then we will see what the scriptures themselves have to say about being justified. The following definition of the Greek word translated into the English word justified is from a Online Bible Greek Lexicon.

1344 δικαιοω dikaioo dik-ah-yo’-o

from 1342; TDNT-2:211,168; {See TDNT 192 } v

AV-justify 37, be freed 1, be righteous 1, justifier 1; 40

1) to render righteous or such he ought to be
2) to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered
3) to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be

The primary definition of render, from a online dictionary is “to cause (someone or something) to be in a specified condition”. That specified condition is righteousness. Since we are justified by grace it would profit us to read two sets of scriptures that specify how the justification process by grace takes place.

Titus 2:11-12 KJVS
[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Titus 3:4-7 KJVS
[4] But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, [5] Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; [6] Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; [7] That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Both sets of scriptures describe in a large part how we are justified by grace. It is God working within our hearts, purifying our heart by faith with the abundant washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Ghost. In conjunction with God working on us externally, judging and correcting our errant behaviors. More on this a little later on. Many Christian denominations view justification as positional, but I see the scriptures describing it as a process. Since the end target of being justified by grace is righteousness, Ro 3:21-24, then how can justification be simply “positional”. A scripture that makes this apparent is Gal 5:5.

Galatians 5:5 KJVS
[5] For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

If being justified is positional and based solely on believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, then there would be no reason to have to wait through the Spirit for the hope of righteousness by faith. Now don’t misunderstand me, being justified can only take place by being in Christ Jesus, so in that sense, it is positional. But justification is a process a believer goes through to render him righteous.

Ga 2:16  Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Many Christians are confused, I know I was in times past, about differentiating between the works of the law and grace. To understand the difference between works of the law and grace, in regards to being justified, and how it impacts the body of Christ, one has to examine the scriptures and see what they say concerning the law and what they say concerning grace and justification by grace. First, one should keep in mind, that when the Apostles mentioned the law and grace, they were often contrasting the two ways of life a individual would seek to be justified before God. A scripture that demonstrates this is in Acts.

Acts 13:39-41  And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
40  Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
41  Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

The work that is being worked, is God’s work in justifying the ungodly man throughout his life using His Spirit in the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, and chastising and disciplining the man, Titus 3:5, 2:11-12, He 12:5-8, 1 Co 11:31&32. The element of time is often and easily overlooked when reading these scriptures. Largely due to the fact that the Aorist verb tense in the Greek is most often translated in the past tense. When in fact, Aorist means without horizon, this verb tense is explained more fully by experts more qualified than I in following article on this site. In the above Ga 2:16 verse, when it states that a man is not justified by the works of the law, one should keep in mind that the law was a way of life, that a person who lived under the law, observed their whole life, Ro 7:1. If one sinned, then he had to offer sacrifice. So attempting to be justified under the law was very much so, a way of life, revolving around animal sacrifice. A fruitless way of life, in that the inner nature of the man observing the law was never really changed, Heb 9:10, Ro 8:3. Never the less, a Jew was bound to observe and live under the law. When we are called to Christ we are justified by, or throughout a life of faith, Ga 3:24. When a man works not, Ro 4:5 , and believes that God justifies the ungodly, through His grace, then his faith in God is counted for righteousness, Ro 4:3. The Greek word and definition for the word counted or accredited for righteousness in Ro 4:3.

“G3049  logizomai  log-id’-zom-ahee

middle voice from G3056;

to take an inventory, i.e. estimate (literally or figuratively).

Might this in fact be similar to making payments on a item placed in a layaway plan? Every time a payment is made, it is counted or accredited towards the item that is being purchased. Once the total balance is paid, then the item in layaway is given to you. So to, believing throughout your life that God justifies the ungodly, that belief is counted or accredited towards righteousness until the redemption of the purchased possession, Eph 1:14.  Now remember, it is written that we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith, Ga 5:5. Even though a man’s faith is counted for or towards righteousness in God’s eyes, because the man believes God, and takes Him at His word. That does not mean that work is not being done throughout the man’s entire life, justifying him. Only the work that is being done, is done by God rather than by the man himself. The end result of the body of Christ being justified, is righteousness and to be found in Christ at the first resurrection, Php 3:10.  The man is not doing the work himself, but GOD IS! Much could be written about this subject and many scriptures cited but every once and awhile you stumble across a statement that so aptly and simply describes a certain thing, that it sticks in your mind. I often go to a local used book store and they have quite a number of used bibles at different times. I bought a Catholic bible called The New American Bible for a few dollars. I bought it because it was a study bible with many footnotes. In some areas of doctrine, Roman Catholic theologians are quite good. In a footnote explaining Romans 3:26, this is written. “Divine mercy declares the guilty innocent and makes them so.”  That short description captures the essence of justification. God does in fact, by His grace, justify the ungodly. Let us see another one of the ways this is done.

Tit 2:11-12 ¶  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

One aspect of the grace of God, is that through grace we are being taught/disciplined/chastised. The Strong’s definition of the Greek word that is translated “teaching” in this verse is as follows:

_____Strongs_____

G3811  paideuo  pahee-dyoo’-o

from G3816;

to train up a child, i.e. educate, or (by implication), discipline (by punishment).

KJV: chasten(-ise), instruct, learn, teach.

This same Greek word is used in Hebrews 12:6 & 7 as the English word “chasteneth”. It is important to understand the distinctions Apostle Paul was making between a man, by his own effort, being justified or trying to be justified by works of the law, in contrast to God justifying a man through His grace. First off, Paul makes it clear that no flesh can be justified by the deeds of the law and that by the law comes the knowledge of sin:

Ro 3:20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Furthermore the flesh is too weak to observe the law and that is why God sent His son as a sacrifice to redeem us from the law and to condemn sin in the flesh, Ro 8:3. But all this does not somehow happen by magic, instantaneously, due to  grace, because God Himself is the one justifying us, and He does it freely, using His grace during our lives. Which teaches us and chastises us, Titus 2:12, He 12:6-11, on the one hand and then being washed in the regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, on the other hand, Titus 3:5. But notice, God is freely doing this work in our lives. Another aspect misunderstood, is the word freely and what it implies. Let’s take a look at that verse in Romans:

Ro 3:24  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

You have to go to a couple verses later in Romans to understand what is being said in the previous verse, in context with the point Paul is making.

Ro 4:4-5  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

God wants a person to realize that He is the one that is justifying the ungodly man. Man, oh how he loves the work of his own hands. But God wants to make it clear, that none of our work entitles us or deserves the wage of salvation. God is freely justifying us by His grace, working in our lives, to make us capable for our inheritance, Col 1:12, Titus 3:7. God is doing the work. Have you ever heard the old saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Well, that is what God is doing. God is going to mature each and every one of us. God is building the house with Jesus Christ, Heb 3:4&6, Ps 127:1. The sacrifice of Jesus redeemed us from the law, Ga 3:13, and now God is freely justifying us by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the one who paid the price to redeem us from the law and reconcile us to God, and God is the one who does the work in justifying and sanctifying us, using His Spirit.

1Co 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

We are God’s workmanship in Christ Jesus, Eph 2:10. A scripture that demonstrates this explicitly is Php 2:12-13, the latter part of verse 13 should read ” both to will and to work his good pleasure”.

Php 2:12 ¶ Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

In Hebrews the 10th chapter, God Himself states what it is He is doing in the new covenant:

Heb 10:16-17  This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
17  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

God is going to put His laws into our hearts and in our minds. Justification takes place in our hearts because the heart is what motivates our behavior. That is why Apostle Peter stated that our hearts are purified by faith, Ac 15:9. God sent Jesus to blesses us by turning us away from our iniquities,  Ac 3:26. God alone does all the work in justifying the ungodly man freely by grace, and that grace is only available through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. In the book of Galatians, Paul uses a metaphor, that if you examine closely and in conjunction with what I have just wrote, is quite illuminating.

Ga 3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

The meaning for the Greek word translated as “schoolmaster” in the Authorized Version, means a slave whose duty was to escort a child to school. This slave had little or no part in educating the child.  Neither does the law, but when we are called to be in the body of Christ, we are in school. God’s school. Where He uses His word and His Spirit to discipline us and teach us and purity our hearts. All growth, all knowledge gained, all fruit of the Spirit, are all acquired through experience. You learn from a teacher or from books and even learn from the school of hard knocks. A school which I attended for many years and still sign up for a course every now and again. But you only learn through some form of experiencing. So that is why Paul was so concerned with the Galatian church observing the law. Because man’s effort to justify himself, by his own work, his own effort, frustrates the grace of God, and the Spirit of God.

Ga 2:20-21  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Ga 3:3  Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

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