Justification – The Action of Faith


Prayer:  Father, we choose to follow You all the days of our life.  We find great assurance as we’re reminded that we will not be engulfed by the surrounding evil but instead Your light will guide us to eternal blessing.  Help us to walk by faith and not by sight holding onto Your promises as we continue to build a solid foundation through Your Holy Word.  It is in the Name of Jesus that we pray to You today.  Amen.[1]

Main Scripture: Read Ephesians 2:1-10.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'  But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'  I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:9-14).

Associated Scriptures:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:1-10).

But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your* works, and I will show you my faith by my* works.  You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble!  But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead (James 2:18-21, NKJV)?

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8).

Correlative Quotes:

Now such a works system is despised by God. God does not redeem men by works, He didn't do it in the Old Testament, "Abraham believed God- and it was counted to him for righteousness." Works was only a by-product. God has always redeemed men by faith, and nothing is more offensive to God than people trying to earn their way to heaven.[2] – John MacArthur

To that, then, we must always cling, but Jesus Christ has given a promise of salvation to the baptized believer, and he has said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, and whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."  Here it is clear he promises everlasting life to all who believe in him, to all who trust in him. Now from the Master's words we will not stir, but close to his own declaration we will stand. Be assured that the gospel of your salvation as a believer, with a simple confidence in Jesus Christ, whom God raised from the dead, will save your soul, a simple and undiluted reliance upon the life and death, and resurrection, and merit, and person of Jesus Christ, will ensure to you everlasting life. Let nothing move you from this confidence: it hath great recompense of reward. Heaven and earth may pass away, but from this grand fundamental truth not one jot or tittle shall ever be moved. "He that believeth in him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the Son of God."[3] – Charles Spurgeon

…faith operates quite simply. God speaks and we hear His Word. We trust His Word and act on it no matter what the circumstances are or what the consequences may be. The circumstances may be impossible, and the consequences frightening and unknown; but we obey God's Word just the same and believe Him to do what is right and what is best.[4] – Warren Wiersbe

God never asked us to meet life's pressures and demands on our own terms or by relying upon our own strength. Nor did He demand that we win His favor by assembling an impressive portfolio of good deeds. Instead, He invites us to enter His rest.[5] – Charles R. Swindoll

To escape the error of salvation by works we have fallen into the opposite error of salvation without obedience. In our eagerness to get rid of the legalistic doctrine of works we have thrown out the baby with the bath and gotten rid of obedience as well.[6] – A. W. Tozer


Justification is by faith (Romans 5:1).  It is,” according to J. I. Packer, “a judicial act of God pardoning sinners (wicked and ungodly persons, Romans 4:5; 3:9-24), accepting them as just, and so putting permanently right their previously estranged relationship with himself. This justifying sentence is God’s gift of righteousness (Romans 5:15-17), his bestowal of a status of acceptance for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 5:21).”[7]

Justification is the action of faith that initiates salvation in the believer.  To be justified is to be treated as right or righteous by God (Romans 3:22). 

  1. Justification is by death: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8b). Before there could be any justification, someone had to pay the penalty for our sin. Someone had to pay the price; someone had to die.  That someone was Jesus (Romans 4:25).
  2. Justification is a result of grace: “For it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:8a). We “are justified freely by his (God’s) grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). To be justified means “just if I’d never sinned.” It means that God forgives and forgets our sin completely. 
  3. Justification is by grace through faith alone: “For by grace you are saved through faith,” (Ephesians 2:8a). Justification is given to us through faith alone and is offered as a gift to us by the grace of God. “Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. (Galatians 2:16a).
  4. Justification is a gift: “it is a gift from God,” (Ephesians 2:8b). Justification is not something that we deserve. That’s why we call it the gift of grace.  We deserve eternal punishment for our unrighteousness.  Our justification is, therefore, a gift (Romans 11:6).
  5. Justification shuns or denies pride: “and this not from yourselves,” (Ephesians 2:8c). Since we had nothing to do with the grace of God or the gift of faith and were undeserving of the grace we were shown leading to our justification, we cannot boast in its completion.

Romans 4:1-3 specifically states that Abraham, who has substantial works of faith had no room to boast, “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?  If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about — but not before God.  What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’"

Therefore, we should put on the righteousness that we have been so freely given and avoid the desires of the flesh that would break our relationship with God (Romans 13:14).

What a triumphant conclusion. The Spirit has used Paul to carry on the argument like a duelist who gets his confident adversary off guard in order to deliver the coup de grace and finish the combat. All phases of human religion have an element of human pride: Christianity alone — that is Biblical Christianity — has no place for pride. Phillips has translated this same verse in a trenchant way: "What happens now to human pride of achievement? There is no more room for it.[8]” – Donald Grey Barnhouse

  1. Justification is void of our doing: “not by works, so that no one can boast,” (Ephesians 2:9). “So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16b). The law of God could not save us since it was the accuser and not the justifier.  The law condemns, it is God who justifies.
  2. Justification fosters works: “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Works don’t save us, but they are a reflection of justification. Although we are saved by grace through faith alone, works are essential to the whole discussion of justification and salvation.  It is by works that we know we have been saved; works are the evidence of our salvation (James 2:20-13).

Summary Statement:

Faith and works are inseparable they are joined at the heart. 

1 Timothy 5:24 tells us that some sins are open for everyone to see and other sins will be hidden until the judgment.  However, Timothy continues to say in verse 25 that good works cannot be hidden, you either have them or you don’t. If good works are the product of the converted heart, then the new creature in Christ will produce them as evidence that salvation has taken place.

[1] adailyprayer.wordpress.com/2008/01/29/walking-in-the-light/.

[2] John MacArthur, What is Faith, © Grace to You, All Rights Reserved, March 2, 2003, message 1626.

[3] Charles Spurgeon, Fruitless Faith, Spurgeon Ministries, Ontario Canada, iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/history/spurgeon/web/ss-0011.html

[4] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

[5] Charles R. Swindoll, © 2016 goodreads inc. goodreads.com/quotes/tag/works.

[6] A. W. Tozer, Paths of Power, © 2016 goodreads inc. goodreads.com/quotes/tag/ works.

[7] J. I. Packer, Justification: Salvation is by Grace through Faith, monergism.com/thethreshold/ articles/onsite/packer/justification.html.

[8] Donald Grey Barnhouse, Romans: Expositions of Bible Doctrines © 1966 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved.