Justification is God’s declaration that through Christ a believer is free from all of sin’s guilt and punishment and stands before Him as perfectly righteous. Paul now teaches some basics about justification by using the example of Abraham.
Justification is by faith apart from works (vv. 2-8). It does not depend on religious rites (vv. 9-12). It is by faith in God’s promise, not the works of the Law (vv. 13-22). It belongs to those who trust in Christ (vv. 23-25).
Justification deals with the believer’s standing before God. This is demonstrated by words such as “accounted” (vv. 3, 5, 9-10), “debt” (v. 4), and “imputes” (vv. 6, 23-24). When a sinner receives and relies on Jesus for salvation, the sinner’s sin is “paid in full” by Jesus’ death on the cross (forgiveness) and God “credits” Jesus’ righteousness to the believing sinner’s account.
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- Justification deals with the believer’s standing before God, not his experience. That is, the believer doesn’t instantly live a sinless life or is enabled to do righteous works that help finish what Jesus started (the latter is essentially taught by Roman Catholicism).
- Justification is not tied to any religious rite (vv. 10-12). Any who teach that religious rites such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper are essential for salvation teach a false gospel that God condemns (Gal 1:8-9). Only Jesus can forgive sin and provided the needed righteousness to be accepted by God. Jesus’ salvation can only be received by faith, not earned by works.
- Faith is not a leap in the dark but believes (receives and rests on) truth from God. True faith does not waver, glorifies God, and expresses that one is fully convinced God will do what he said he would do (v. 20-21).