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Justification

(Our Aquital from Sin)

 


          There are three aspects to salvation: justification (Rom. 4:25), sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3), and glorification (Rom. 8:30).  The purpose here is to discuss the first of these called justification.  The word justification (dikaiōsis), literally means "an aquital" (Strongs Concordance G1347).  We are guilty of a crime (sin - Rom. 3:23) and we owe the penalty for sin (death - Rom. 6:23).  All men are in the same position before God.  We are guilty.  God has a standard set forth for us and it is recorded in his law.  We missed God's standard by breaking His law, which is what we call sin (1 John 3:4).  According to biblical law in order for one to pay for their crimes (sins) a blood sacrifice would have to be given.  As Hebrews 9:22 states, "without shedding of blood is no remission."  We owe a death penalty that we cannot pay.
          This is why God had to become a man (John 1:1,14).  He had to live the life that we could not.  The Messiah obeyed every commandment, statute, and judgement of God (Matt. 5:17-20), yet suffered the penalty for sin despite this.  This was a penalty He did not deserve, but since he paid this penalty He is now qualified to pay for our sins.  In Hebrew law, the high priest would enter the holy of holies once a year on the day of atonement.  This day was a special day to sacrifice for both the sins of the high priest and the sins of all the people (Lev. 16:6,15, Heb. 9:7).  It was this day that brought atonement for the sins of all the people of God.  In Hebrews 9:8 the author speaking of this day writes, "the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest."  The holiest of all is where the presence of God dwells in the tabernacle.  Ancient Hebrews did not have an understanding of this special day.  They couldn't have, it was, "not yet made manifest."  The manifestation was of the sacrifice God would make by dying on a cross.  The Messiah has now become our high priest to sacrifice on our behalf.  The sacrifice made by the Messiah was perfect, for He sacrificed Himself by dying on the cross.  We can become aquitted (justified) of our crimes (sins) against God by this sacrifice.  The question is, how do we become justified?
          The scripture is not silent on this issue.  There are a few things mentioned that are necessary for salvation.  A blood sacrifice, repentance, faith, belief, and confession are among those mentioned.  The hardest part, God has done for us.  We needed a perfect man to pay the penalty for sin, but we couldn't do it.  Thankfully, God did it for us and He provided Himself as a sacrifice.  Our part is simple, we need to repent, have faith, believe, and confess to be sure we have been justified.  The problem is, what do these words mean?

 

Defining Terms:


          The first thing necessary for justification is repentance, but many do not understand what this word means.  The accepted meaning of this word today is "to turn around" or "about face."  It was a military term applied to the scriptures.  Using this definition would make repentance mean to turn from your sins.  This is an unfortunate understanding today for the Biblical meaning is quite different.  The word translated "repent" in the Hebrew scriptures is "nâcham,"  which, according to Strong's Concordance, means "to sigh, ... breathe strongly, ... to be sorry, ... to regret."  The greek word used in the New Testament is "metanoeō,"  which, according to Strong's Concordance, means "to think differently or afterwards, ... to reconsider, ... to change your mind."  This is quite a bit different than today's understanding.  It appears that all God expects from us is "to change our mind."  But change our minds about what?  We will understand this better as we look at the other things necessary for salvation, so let's continue.
          The second and third thing necessary for justification will be covered together, for they are really the same thing.  Faith and belief have a very similar definition in English as well as Greek and Hebrew.  Webster's dictionary defines faith as "a firm belief" or "complete trust" and belief as "to accept something as true."  These are very good definitions for the Strong's Concordance definition of pistis (faith) and pisteuō (believe) are the same.  Pistis (faith) means a "moral credence" and pisteuō (believe) means "to have faith in ... to entrust."  Even in Hebrew they have the same meaning.  The Hebrew word 'êmûn (faith) means "trustworthiness" and the word 'âman (believe) means "faithful, to trust or believe."  These words are even spelled similar in Greek and Hebrew.  The meaning could not be clearer.  Faith and belief mean to believe something so strong that you put your trust in it.
          The last of the requirements for justification is confession.  The greek word for confess is homologeō, which Strongs defines as "to assent" or to "acknowledge."  This is the extention of faith/belief, which is to really mean it.  You can't just say you believe or have faith in Jesus, you have to really mean it.  The Hebrew word for confess is yâdâh and comes from the root word yâd which means "to open your hand, indicating power, means, or direction."  Confession is a way of simply showing everyone that you really believe it.  It is not simply "honoring with your lips," we must mean it with all our hearts (Matt. 15:8).

 

Conclusion:


          To understand repentance combined with faith/belief/confession you simply need to listen to the words of the Messiah.  In Mark 1:15, Jesus makes the statement, "repent ye, and believe the gospel."  If we understood repentance like the modern definition, this statement would mean "turn from your sins ye, and believe the gospel."  This is very unfortunate because it sure sounds like you have to earn salvation by turning from your sins.  This can't be true for "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).  Rather, Jesus is saying "change your mind" (repent), "and believe the gospel" (death, buriel, ressurection 1 Cor. 15:1-4), or in other words, stop believing whatever you used to believe, and start believing that the Messiah died, was buried, and rose again to pay for your sins.  However, as we have already seen, you have to really believe this.  This is something entirely different. 
         Give this a try, read through the New Testament and understand repent as "changing your mind" and see how well it fits.  This is truly the only understanding that allows salvation to be a "free gift" by "grace" alone.  The evidence of your belief is your changed life, which the Bible calls sanctification.  To read more on repentance click here.  To read about sanctification click here.

 

By Steve Siefken
 

  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth

not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 KJV