Did you know that the Bible words “Justified” and “righteousness” both come from the same Greek word? “Justification”, “justify”, “justified”, and “righteous” and “righteousness” all have the same basic meaning “Not Guilty!”
It would be foolish for me to try to give a lesson in the Greek language of the 1st century here. I have had two semesters of Greek, and not long after the Roman Empire fell, at least it seems that long ago. You are welcome to do the research yourself. Both the English words “Justification” and “Righteousness” come to us from one Greek word, or a derivative of the word, and in each case the meaning is “Not Guilty”. And, I think we misunderstand their meaning.
The Bible leaves no doubt that all of us are sinners. To say otherwise is to call God a liar according to John in 1st John. Paul said it this way, “There is none righteous (not guilty)”. And that all of us are in fact “guilty” before God. Our problem in fact is exactly that we are “guilty” and can’t do anything to fix it.
God is “righteous” (not guilty) and when He came in flesh to “save” (make them not guilty, same Greek word) His people from their sins, His life showed that he in His humanity was “not guilty”. He died for us, the “just” (not guilty) for the “unjust” (guilty) so that God could be “just” (not guilty) and the “justifier” ( maker of not guilty ) of those who come to Him by faith.
How is it then that any man (whom God has declared “guilty”) can become “not guilty” by his own doing? Or how could he even contribute in any way to his own “not guilty”? The answer is he can’t.
Jesus took every man’s sins upon him and paid the penalty in full. He died for us, in our place. But he also lived a perfect “not guilty” life. He fulfilled all of the covenant requirements, for us. Based completely and only upon the death of Jesus for our sins and His righteousness (not guilty), God can declare those who were in fact guilty, “Not Guilty” and still be “not guilty” Himself. For you see, if God arbitrarily declared a guilty person, not guilty, He himself would become guilty. It would be wrong to claim total righteousness and justice and claim the guilty not guilty when in fact they are very guilty.
This is the gospel. Those who put their trust in Jesus God makes “not guilty”. And in the end He is all that matters because He is the judge. If He says “Not Guilty!” you are not guilty.
It was God’s plan before the foundation of the world. It was Jesus who came and lived and died and rose again. It was God who called me to himself. I can claim no part at all in making myself “not guilty” before God. Neither can you. Remember, God doesn’t measure men by other men. He measures them up against Jesus Christ and they are short of the mark every time.
What is the point of all this? Give up! Surrender! Wave the white flag! Stop trying to do what only God can do for you. Put your trust in Christ alone and give Him all the glory for he makes the guilty “Not Guilty”.