What Justification Means
To be justified means to be declared not guilty of all sin and penalty of God’s Law. God treats those who are justified as righteous and treats them as if they have kept all of His laws.
How We’re Justified
We cannot justify ourselves by any work we do because our works fall short of God’s standard:
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Rom 3:23)
Justification is a gift from God:
“…and are justified by his grace as a gift…” (Rom 3:24)
The gift of justification is Christ taking our place in judgment by paying for our sins on the cross:
“…through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation [payment] by his blood, (Rom 3:24-25)
At the cross we gave Christ our sin and He gave us His righteousness:
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21)
This gift is received by faith alone. This means trusting completely in Christ to pay the penalty of our sin:
“…to be received by faith.” (Rom 3:25)
“Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6) so that he might take away their sins. Christ has no sin of his own, but is punished for human sin.
We have no righteousness of our own, but we take the divine righteousness when we come to Christ in faith, and now stand accepted before God.