The Nature of Justification


Some of the most beautiful passages in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy deal with the topic of justification. Yet, although it is a most wonderful topic for study and contemplation, many do not really understand what it means. Lacking this understanding, some are not able to as fully enter into the experience that it prepares them for.

Justification is itself but an entrance or a doorway. On the other side is something very special fellowship with Christ and enabling grace to keep His holy law. But there is no other way that we can cross the threshold into that experience except through what we call justification.

If for some reason we stumble outside, we must come back in through that same door. And, frequently through the day, we will find that we have unconsciously left our Lord and are beginning to veer off into our natural pride, covetousness, and self .satisfaction. Immediately we must come back. The entrance door remains the same, and the peace within remains the same.

Often we will wonder why we wander out for the trinkets of the world, when there is such blessed happiness inside with Jesus.

Unfortunately, a major error of our time is thinking that justification is all that is needed for salvation. What is the difference between justification and sanctification?

The Holy Spirit draws us to Christ in repentance for our sins. As we come to Him confessing and forsaking them, and surrendering our lives to His control we are JUSTIFIED by His grace. We receive forgiveness for sins past, peace with God right now, and the assurance of His help as we move onward into the future. But, continuing on, we must hold tightly to His hand. Otherwise Satan will beguile us away from our Lord and Saviour. Yet if he does tempt us Into sin, we then must flee back to Christ in renewed repentance.

Whether or not we backslide into sin, justification should be a continual experience in our lives. Every day we must repent so that every day we may be victorious. Each day should begin with earnest prayer. Let humble repentance and pleading for help   culminating In renewed trust In His keeping power, mark your first words and feelings of the morning. Death to self through Christ is the entrance to justification. Begin it anew every morning. Paul died daily, yet many today Imagine that they need only die once when, years before, they first became Christians!

Arising from prayer penetration into justification, which is but the experience of forgiveness sought for and received, we then walk together with Christ down the pathway of SANCTIFICATION, and Christian growth begins. For that growth is Sanctification. Growth in what? Growth in obedience to the laws of God, for that is what sanctification is all about!

The beginning of the pathway is JUSTIFICATION; the pathway Itself is SANCTIFICATION. Since every morning we begin anew the walk on that pathway with Jesus, therefore every morning justification needs to be experienced afresh. Not to do so is to gradually leave our Master and try to walk the pathway alone. And we dare not do that!

Yet If we are beguiled into sin, we immediately come running back to our precious Jesus. The worldling likes sin and prefers to remain in It; the Christian abhors It, but when betrayed into It by the tempter, he quickly flees to Christ In tearful repentance.

On one hand, do not imagine that you need not come back to Christ in repentance. On the other, do not accept the whispered temptation that He will not accept you and that it is too late to come back. Come back; come back always come back through the gate of repentance Into your Fathers house of obedience. "Justification,, is written over that gate, and "Sanctification" is the name of the home that you enter.

An erroneous view of justification and sanctification is being taught by modernists. Their concept is that justification Is all that Is needed. Come to Christ and believe, and that is all you need do," is their cry. "Only believe, and you cannot be lost., "Obedience to God is not necessary," they while tell you. Some of the modernists will maintain no one can stop sinning in this life when others will suggest that the only way sin can be overcome is by a miracle entirely apart from any effort on ones part.

But the Word of God teaches that we must strive to overcome. We must earnestly seek, In the strength of Christ, to resist temptation and obey the revealed will of God.

Thus we see that genuine justification lathe entrance to the pathway of obedience. Justification comes by faith as, In the sight of God, we genuinely repent, acknowledge, and forsake our sins. That experience opens to us the pathway of sanctification, which we traverse as, in the strength of Christ, we seek to obey that which His Written Word commands.

"Righteousness within is testified to by righteousness without. He who is righteous within is not hard-hearted and unsympathetic, but day by day he grows into the image of Christ, going on from strength to strength. He who is being sanctified by the truth will be self-controlled, and will follow in the footsteps of Christ until grace is lost in glory.

"The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second our fitness for it." Messages to Young People, 35.

Righteousness is right doing, or obedience to the law of God. Imputed righteousness is that experience in which we are accounted righteous in the sight of God and fully accepted by Him as though we are faultless This comes as we experience justification by faith. And what is justification by faith? It is forgiveness and acceptance with God by faith. By faith we are accounted righteous, or justified. By faith it happens. We come in faith; we come believing. Because we believe we cling, and plead, and persevere till we succeed And clinging, we are forgiven and we arise justified in the sight of God! A marvelous experience.

What is it that we believe in? We believe that God is just and true in all His ways, and that Christ died to forgive our sin and empower us to obey. We believe in the truth about the character of God, and we accept the truth about ourselves

What is imparted righteousness? It is perfect obedience to the will, the law of God. We receive it by receiving Christ, and it is maintained only as long as we are connected with Him. Apart from Jesus no one has righteousness. Without a moment-by-moment experience of "trust and obey," even the angels of heaven cannot have right-doing to the laws of their Creator.

How thankful we can be Gods plan to save us! Let us lay all our plans before Him that He may use us!

First, let us see what the Bible teaches about justification, and then consider that which the Spirit of Prophecy has to say about the same subject: 

The Bible

"In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." Isaiah 45:25.

"He is near that justifieth me." Isaiah 50:8.

"He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shell bear their iniquities" Isaiah 53:11.

"In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." Jeremiah 23:6.

"He believed the Lord; and He counted it for righteousness." Genesis 15:6 (Romans 4:3).

"For lam not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith." Romans 1:16. (Habakkuk 2:4).

"The righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference. Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through the forbearance of God. To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness; that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Romans 3:21-28.

"Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1.

"Whom He called, He also justified; and whom He justified, He also glorified. What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

"Who shall lay anything to the charge of Gods elect? His God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? His Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

"Being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:7.

"But wilt thou know, 0 vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God . . For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:20-23, 26.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?..

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:30-39.

The Spirit of Prophecy

"There is no safety nor repose nor justification in transgression of the law. Man cannot hope to stand innocent before God, and at peace with Him through the merits of Christ, while he continues in sin. He must cease to transgress, and become loyal and true." 1 Selected Messages, 213.

"By faith apply the blood of Christ to your heart, for that alone can make you whiter than snow. But you say, This surrender of all my idols will break my heart. This giving up of all for God is represented by your falling upon the Rock and being broken. Then give up all for Him; for unless you are broken, you are worthless. "When you turn away from the broken cisterns that can hold no water, and in the name of Jesus your Advocate come directly to God, asking for the things you need, the righteousness of Christ will be revealed as your righteousness, the virtue of Christ as your virtue. You will then understand that justification will come alone through faith in Christ; for in Jesus is revealed the perfection of the character of God; in His life is manifested the outworking of the principles of holiness. Through the atoning blood of Christ the sinner is set free from bondage and condemnation; through the perfection of the sinless Substitute and Surety, he may run in the race of humble obedience to all of Gods commandments. Without Christ he is under the condemnation of the law, always a sinner, but through faith in Christ he is made just before God." 1 Selected Messages, 330.

"The present message justification by faith is a message from God; it bears the divine credentials, for its fruit is unto holiness. Some who greatly need the precious truth that was presented before them, we fear did not receive its benefit. They did not open the door of their hearts to welcome Jesus as a heavenly guest, and they have suffered great loss. There is indeed a narrow way in which we must walk; the cross is presented at every step. We must learn to live by faith; then the darkest hours will be brightened by the blessed beams of the Sun of Righteousness." 1 Selected Messages, 359.

"There is great need that Christ should be preached as the only hope and salvation. When the doctrine of justification by faith was presented at the Rome [New York] meeting, it came to many as water comes to the thirsty traveler. The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, seemed a precious thought." 1 Selected Messages. 360.

"There are grand truths, long hidden under the rubbish of error, that are to be revealed to the people. The doctrine of justification by faith has been lost sight of by many who have professed to believe the third angels message. The Holiness people have gone to great extremes on this point. With great zeal they have taught, Only believe in Christ, and be saved; but away with the law of God. This is not the teaching of the word of God. There is no foundation for such a faith. This is not the precious gem of truth that God has given to His people for this time. This doctrine misleads honest soul. The light from the Word of God reveals the fact that the law must be proclaimed. Christ must be lifted up, because He is a Saviour who forgiveth transgression, iniquity, and sin, but will by no means clear the guilty and unrepentant soul." 1 Selected Messages, 360.

"The light shining forth from the Word of God has been clear and distinct justification by faith, Christ our righteousness." 1 Selected Messages, 361.

"As the sinner looks to the law, his guilt is made plain to him, and pressed home to his conscience, and he is condemned. His only comfort and hope is found in looking to the cross of Calvary. As he ventures upon the promises, taking God at His word, relief and peace come to his soul. He cries, Lord, Thou hast promised to save all who come unto Thee in the name of Thy Son. I am a lost, helpless, hopeless soul. Lord, save, or I perish. His faith lays hold on Christ, and he is justified before God." 1 Selected Messages, 365-366.

"But while God can be just, and yet justify the sinner through the merits of Christ, no man can cover his soul with the garments of Christs righteousness while practicing known sins, or neglecting known duties, God requires the entire surrender of the heart, before justification can take place; and in order for man to retain justification, there must be continual obedience, through active, living faith that works by love and purifies the soul." 1 Selected Messages, 366.

"In order for man to be justified by faith, faith must reach a point where it will control the affections and impulses of the heart; and it is by obedience that faith itself is made perfect." 1 Selected Messages, 366.

"Faith is the condition upon which God has seen fit to promise pardon to sinners; not that there is any virtue in faith where by salvation is merited, but because faith can lay hold of the merits of Christ, the remedy provided for sin. Faith can present Christs perfect obedience instead of the sinners transgression and defection. When the sinner believes that Christ is his personal Saviour, then, according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin, and justifies him freely. The repentant soul realizes that his justification comes because Christ, as his substitute and surety, has died for him, is his atonement and righteousness." 1 Selected Messages, 366-367.

"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.(Romans 4:3-5). Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinners account. Christs righteousness is accepted in place of mans failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. This is how faith is accounted righteousness; and the pardoned soul goes on from grace to grace, from light to a greater light. He can say with rejoicing, 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; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)." 1 Selected Messages, 367.

"Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angels message, and I have answered, it is the third angels message in verity."   l Selected Messages, 372.

"Brother A.T.Jones: I was attending a meeting, and a large congregation were present. In my dream you were presenting the subject of faith and the imputed righteousness of Christ by faith. You repeated several times that works amounted to nothing, that there were no conditions. The matter was presented in that light that I knew minds would be confused, and would not receive the correct impression in reference to faith and works, and I decided to write to you. You state this matter too strongly. There are conditions to our receiving justification and sanctification, and the righteousness of Christ. I know your meaning, but you leave a wrong impression upon many minds. While good works will not save even one soul, yet it is impossible for even one soul to be saved without good works. God saves us under a law, that we must ask if we would receive, seek if we would find, and knock if we would have the door opened unto us." 1Selected Messages, 377.

"When God pardons the sinner, remits the punishment he deserved, and treats him as though he had not sinned, He receives him into divine favor, and justifies him through the merits of Christs righteousness. The sinner can be justified only through faith in the atonement made through Gods dear Son, who became a sacrifice for the sins of the guilty world. No one can be justified by any works of his own. He can be delivered from the guilt of sin, from the condemnation of the law, from the penalty of transgression, only by virtue of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. Faith is the only condition upon which justification can be obtained, and faith includes not only belief but trust." 1 Selected Messages, 389.

"Many are confused as to what constitutes the first steps in the work of salvation. Repentance is thought to be a work the sinner must do for himself in order that he may come to Christ. They think that the sinner must procure for himself a fitness in order to obtain the blessing of Gods grace. But while it is true that repentance must precede forgiveness, for it is only the broken and contrite heart that is acceptable to God, yet the sinner cannot bring himself to repentance, or prepare himself to come to Christ. Except the sinner repent, he cannot be forgiven; but the question to be decided is as to whether repentance is the work of the sinner or the gift of Christ. Must the sinner wait until he is filled with remorse for his sin before he can come to Christ? The very first step to Christ is taken though the drawing of the Spirit of God; a man responds to this drawing, he advances toward Christ in order that he may repent." 1 Selected Messages, 390.

"Repentance is no less the gift of God than are pardon and justification, and it cannot be experienced except as it is given to the soul by Christ. If we are drawn to Christ, it is through His power and virtue. The grace of contrition comes through Him, and from Him comes justification." 1 Selected Messages, 391.

"Who is desirous of becoming truly repentant? What must he do? He must come to Jesus, just as he is, without delay. He must believe that the word of Christ is true, and, believing the promise, ask, that he may receive. When sincere desire prompts men to pray, they will not pray in vain. The Lord will fulfill His word, and will give the Holy Spirit to lead to repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. He will pray and watch, and put away his sins, making manifest his sincerity by the vigor of his endeavor to obey the commandments of God. With prayer he will mingle faith, and not only believe in but obey the precepts of the law. He will announce himself as on Christs side of the question. He will renounce all habits and associations that tend to draw the heart from God." 1 Selected Messages, 393.

"As the penitent sinner, contrite before God, discerns Christs atonement in his behalf, and accepts this atonement as his only hope in this life and the future life, his sins are pardoned. This is justification by faith. Every believing soul is to conform his will entirely to Gods will, and keep in a state of repentance and contrition, exercising faith in the atoning merits of the Redeemer and advancing from strength to strength, from glory to glory." 6 Bible Commentaries, 1070.

"Pardon and justification are one and the same thing. Through faith, the believer passes from the position of a rebel, a child of sin and Satan, to the position of a loyal subject of Christ Jesus, not because of an inherent goodness, but because Christ receives him as His child by adoption. The sinner receives the forgiveness of his sins, because these sins are borne by his Substitute and Surety. The Lord speaks to His heavenly Father, saying: This is My child. I reprieve him from the condemnation of death, giving him My life insurance policy eternal life because I have taken his place and have suffered for his sin. He is even My beloved son. Thus man, pardoned, and clothed with the beautiful garments of Christs righteousness, stands faultless before God" 6 Bible Commentary, 1070.

"Justification is the opposite of condemnation. Gods boundless mercy is exercised toward those who are wholly undeserving. He forgives transgressions and sins for the sake of Jesus, who has become the propitiation for our sins. Through faith in Christ, the guilty transgressor is drawn into favor with God and into the strong hope of life eternal." 6 Bible Commentary, 1070-1071.

"Justification by faith in Christ will be made manifest in transformation of character. This is the sign to the world of the truth of the doctrines we profess. The daily evidence that we are a living church is seen in the fact that we are practicing the Word. A living testimony goes forth to the world in consistent Christian action" 6 Bible Commentary, 1071.

"The grace of Christ is freely [given] to justify the sinner without merit or claim on his part. Justification is a full, complete pardon of sin. The moment a sinner accepts Christ by faith, that moment he is pardoned. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him, and he is no more to doubt Gods forgiving grace."  6 Bible Commentary, 1071.

"There is nothing in faith that makes it our Saviour. Faith cannot remove our guilt. Christ is the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe. The justification comes through the merits of Jesus Christ. He has paid the price for the sinners redemption. Yet it is only through faith in His blood that Jesus can justify the believer." 6 Bible Commentary, 1071.

"The sinner cannot depend upon his own good works as a means of justification. He must come to the point where he will renounce all his sin, and embrace one degree of light after another as it shines upon his pathway. He simply grasps by faith the free and am-pie provision made in the blood of Christ. He believes the promises of God, which through Christ are made unto him sanctification and righteousness and redemption. And if he follows Jesus, he will walk humbly in the light, rejoicing in the light and diffusing that light to others. Being justified by faith, he carries cheerfulness with him in his obedience in all his life. Peace with God is the result of what Christ is to him. The souls who are in subordination to God, who honor Him, and are doers of His Word, will receive divine enlightenment. In the precious Word of God there is purity and loftiness as well as beauty that, unless assisted by God, the highest powers of man cannot attain to" 6 Bible Commentary, 1071.

"Many commit the error of trying to define minutely the line points of distinction between justification and sanctification. Into the definitions of these two terms they often bring their own Ideas and speculations. Why try to be more minute than is inspiration on the vital question of righteousness by faith? Why try to work out every minute point, as if the salvation of the soul depended upon all having exactly your understanding of this matter? All cannot see in the same line of vision." 6 Bible Commentary, 1072.

"Justification means the saving of a soul from perdition, that he may obtain sanctification, and through sanctification, the life of heaven. Justification means that the conscience, purged from dead works, is placed where it can receive the blessing of sanctification." 7 Bible Commentaries, 908.

"The faith that does not produce good works does not justify the soul. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only (James 2:24)." 1 Selected Messages, 397.

"Imputation of the righteousness of Christ comes through justifying faith, and is the justification for which Paul so earnestly contends." 1 Selected Messages, 397.

"The apostle James saw that danger would arise in presenting the subject of justification by faith, and he labored to show that genuine faith cannot exist without corresponding works. The experience of Abraham is presented. Seest thou, he says, how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? Thus genuine faith does a genuine work in the believer. Faith and obedience bring a solid, valuable experience." 7 Bible Commentary, 936.

"Justification by faith and the righteousness of Christ are the themes to be presented to a perishing world." 7 Bible Commentary, 964.

"No one who truly loves and fears God will continue to transgress the law in any particular. When man transgresses he is under the condemnation of the law, and it becomes to him a yoke of bondage. Whatever his profession may be he is not justified, which means pardoned." My Life Today, 250.

"Righteousness within is testified to by righteousness without. He who is righteous within is not hard-hearted and unsympathetic, but day by day he grows into the image of Christ, going on from strength to strength. He who is being sanctified by the truth will be self-controlled, and will follow in the footsteps of Christ until grace is lost in glory. The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven. Messages to Young People, 35.

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God." Testimonies to Ministers, 91-92.

"What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself." Testimonies to Ministers, 456.

"We come to God in the name of Jesus by special invitation, and He welcomes us to His audience chamber. He imparts to the humble, contrite soul that faith in Christ by which he is justified. Jesus blots out as a thick cloud his transgressions, and the comforted heart exclaims, 0 Lord, I will praise Thee: though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortedst me. Isaiah 12:1. Such a one will understand by his own experience the words of Paul, With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10." Counsels to Teachers, 242.

"Make sure that you are accepted by Christ because you rely on the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. His righteousness must be your righteousness. He wrought it out for you, and when you receive it you stand justified in the presence of God." Medical Ministry, 115.

"Said the Judge: "All will be justified by their faith and judged by their works." How vividly then appeared their neglect, and how wise the arrangement of God in giving to every man a work to do to promote the cause and save his fellowmen." 4 Testimonies, 386.

"The stirring testimonies of reproof and warning do not arouse them to repentance. The sweetest melodies that come from God through human lips justification by faith and the righteousness of Christ do not call forth from them a response of love and gratitude. Though the heavenly Merchantman displays before them the richest jewels of faith and love, though He invites them to buy of Him gold tried in the fire, and white raiment that they may be clothed, and eye salve that they may see, they steel their hearts against Him, and fail to exchange their lukewarmness for love and zeal." 8 Testimonies, 427.