Holding to Truth

holding to truth in love for the building up of the Body of Christ

Justification by Faith – What it is and How to Experience it

Justification by faith is one of the crucial truths of the Christian faith revealed in the Bible.

Justification by Faith - What it is and How to Experience it

But I’m afraid many professing Christians would have a hard time clearly explaining its meaning. Probably even fewer could help you to enter into a personal experience of being justified by faith.

How about you?

Do you simply acknowledge justification by faith as a true Christian teaching? Or have you seen it in God’s word?

Even more, have you experienced justification by faith personally? Finally, could you share this with someone you know, and lead them to experience it also?

If you are not sure, I hope you will keep reading…

What is Justification by Faith?

The Meaning of Justification by Faith in the Bible

First, we need to see what justification means:

Justification by faith before God means that we are approved by God according to the standard of His righteousness. (Lee, Life-study of Romans, msg. 5, p. 51)

Since God’s standard of righteousness is infinitely higher than ours, we could never be approved by God according to our own righteousness. In fact, Isaiah 64:6 says,  “All our righteousnesses are like a soiled garment” or like filthy rags.

Hence, we need justification by faith.

But how can God justify sinners like us?

The Basis of our Justification — Christ’s Redemption 

God can justify us freely based on the redemption of Christ. In Romans 3:24 Paul says,

Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

In my post  What is Redemption and How is Salvation Different? I point out that redemption is the price God paid to purchase us back for His purpose.

Since we could never pay this highest price, God offered up His own Son, Jesus, as the sacrifice, the payment for our sins  (1 John 1:7). Now, the precious blood of Jesus, shed for us, satisfies all the righteous claims of God (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

Objectively, we can say that justification by faith was accomplished by the death of Christ. By it the righteous God, must justify us based on His Son’s righteous act on the cross.

But how does the reality of this truth affect our Christian life today? First, let’s consider an illustration.

 An Illustration of Justification by Faith — Abraham believing God

Abraham was the first one to be justified by faith. Note that Abraham’s being justified by God had nothing to do with sins.

Abraham simply believed God’s promise to him concerning his seed being as the stars of heaven.  Genesis 15:6 says,

“And he [Abraham]  believed Jehovah, and He accounted it to him as righteousness.”

Abraham believed God was able to work something into him to bring forth a seed out of his own being for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Abraham was justified by such a living faith (footnote 1 on Genesis 15:6 in the Recovery Version).

Similarly, Paul’s illustration of justification by faith in Romans 4, is not merely justification in the sense of being saved from God’s condemnation. Instead, it is faith for producing God’s many sons (Rom. 8:29-30) for constituting Christ’s Body, the church (Rom. 12:4-5).

The Application of our Justification — Christ’s resurrection

We may say that Jesus is our Redeemer and by faith in His blood we are justified.  And yes, this is true objectively. Romans 3 tells us so. Yet, this may be just a mental understanding.

But how can we apply justification by faith in Christ to our experience? How can we participate in the experience of justification by faith like Abraham in Romans 4?

We have to see that subjectively, justification by faith is carried out by the resurrection of Christ.  For it is in His resurrection that we and Christ become one.

First, in resurrection Christ became the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45). Then, when we believe into Him, we receive His Spirit into our spirit (John 3:16, 6). In this way we are regenerated and an organic union takes place in us.  Of this Paul could say in 1 Corinthians 6:17,

“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”

It is by our organic union with the resurrected Christ that God can reckon His Son as our righteousness. Because we and Christ are one, whatever He has accomplished and obtained becomes our possession as well. This is the basis upon which God counts Christ as our righteousness. It’s not just what Christ did for us, but our union with Him that God sees.

When God sees us, He sees Christ. We are righteous because we are in His Son, we are joined as one to His Son, Who is His righteousness and ours.

Experience being Justified by Faith by Believing into the Lord Jesus

In order to experience being justified by faith in Christ, we need to believe into the Lord Jesus out of an appreciation of His preciousness. When this precious Person, the Lord Jesus, is infused into  us through the preaching of the gospel, we are filled with appreciation for Him. Filled with such appreciation for the Lord Jesus. we can’t help but believe in Him and call on His highest name,

“Lord Jesus! O Lord Jesus, I believe into You! You are so precious to me! Thank you for dying for my sins.  I love You. Fill me with Yourself! Make home in all my heart!

This is genuine believing. It is through such appreciation that we and Christ become one spirit. God calls this righteousness. That is, He sees us in union with His Son and reckons Christ as our righteousness.

The Issue of being Justified by Faith — Having life by faith and living by faith

In Galatians 3:11 Paul goes on to point out that,

“The righteous one shall have life and live by faith.”

Justification by faith results in an organic union with the Lord in our spirit. As a result of such an organic union, we have divine life in us (Rom. 8:10).
Then, as the normal continuation, we go on to live by the faith which is our appreciation of the precious Lord Jesus.  That is, we not only have life, but we also live by this life.

How sweet to live the Christian life in faith—the sweet appreciation of the most precious Person in the universe—our dear Lord Jesus!

If you have been helped by this post please share your enjoyment in a comment.

References and further reading:

For a fuller appreciation of justification by faith you may also want to read the following chapters by Witness Lee at ministrybooks.org:

  • Life-study of Romans, messages 5-8
  • Life-study of Galatians, message 4 on The Truth of the Gospel
  • Crucial Truths in the Holy Scriptures, volume 1, chapter 9 on Justification




About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

7 Replies

  1. Don Klopfenstein

    Brother Tom, Thank you for this clear word! This word is very helpful to new Christians as well as folks who have lived the Christian life and are nearing the end of their course. Praise the Lord!

    1. Tom Smith

      Don, I believe that every believer in Christ, young or old, needs to keep advancing to the full knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Unfortunately, many of us who hold the Christian faith are not so adequate in our presentation of the basic and crucial truths. I feel that I need to practice sharing them with others, both to apprehend them myself and that others may be helped to experience and share them also (2 Tim. 2:2). Thanks for your confirming comment. Much grace.

  2. Romans 5:1 says we are justified by faith. Romans 6:7 says we are set free from sin in baptism. The word “set free” here is the exact word for “justified” in 5:1. Therefore we are justified by faith when our faith leads us to be baptized. Jesus said that the one who believes and is baptized would be saved. Mark 16:16.
    But it is Galatians 3 that presents a sustained argument to show that God’s promise to Abraham to bless and justify by faith finds its fulfilment in the Christian age in baptism. Read Galatians 3:6 to 3:29.

  3. Nelson Kiu

    My appreciation of my salvation and the Lord Jesus has increased as a result of understanding this aspect of the truth. Thank you for this wonderful article.

    1. Tom Smith

      Nelson, I’m so glad you found the post helpful. We need our appreciation for the Lord Jesus to be continually increasing. Unfortunately, many teachings of the Bible may merely remain as doctrines to us, including this familiar teaching of justification by faith. I am so helped to realize that it not merely a matter of believing objectively in what Christ did for us on the cross. Rather, by appreciating the precious Person of Christ and calling on His name, we are joined to Him as one (1 Cor. 6:17). When the righteous God sees us in His Son, He must reckon us as righteous and justify us by our faith, our union with Christ. Thanks for taking a moment to share a comment.

  4. Brian Adamo

    Tom, thank you for the word on justification. I really liked the point of Abraham our father in the faith, that he was justified by God when he believed the promises God gave to him, even apart from the matter of sin. The greatest promise is His dear Son and by God’s mercy, we have believed into Christ! We are now justified according to God’s standard of righteousness, that is Christ Himself as our righteousness ( 1 Cor. 1:30). It is enlightening to see that even if we hadn’t sinned, God would still have to accept us according to His standard of righteousness. This helps me “give up” on my trying and struggling to be acceptable to God and just taste and love our wonderful Savior!!!

    1. Tom Smith

      Brian, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I realized that without speaking about or blogging about the great truths in the Bible it is doubtful how clear we are. So I’m glad to take a crucial truth like justification by faith and bring it up for Christian fellowship. As you mentioned, justification by faith means that God approves us according to His standard of righteousness. It’s a standard we could never attain to. But, as you mentioned, Christ Himself is our righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30). Yet, although Christ is the righteousness of God and died to satisfy God’s righteous requirement on us, unless we are one with Christ, we don’t receive the benefit. That is where faith comes. Faith in Christ brings us into an organic union with Christ in our spirit. When God’s sees us joined to His dear Son, He reckons us as righteous in Him. Yes, we just need to taste and love our wonderful Savior! Thanks for sharing!

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