The experience of justification places within the life of the believer spiritual realities that initiate change in the person’s life.
In justification, the sinner is forgiven (Luke 7:47, Eph. 1:7, Rom. 4:7), acquitted of the charges of sin and reckoned righteous (Rom. 5:16, 18; Rom. 8:1), and given the gift of a new life (Eph. 2:1-5, 2 Cor. 5:17).
The foundation of this new experience is the reality that, no matter our past, no matter our sins, no matter how faulty and wrong we have been, we can stand pardoned, forgiven, and cleansed before God.
Think through what this means. Christ’s death covers all sin, even the worst; no matter how much your own heart might condemn you (1 John 3:20), when you surrender yourself to Christ, in faith, and accept His perfect life instead of your own “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6), then you are at that moment covered in Christ’s righteousness. His perfect life is credited to you as if it were yours. Talk about a gift, especially to a sinner!
The question is, How can something like this happen to a person and that person not be radically changed? That change, often called the “new birth,” is part and parcel of the experience of salvation.
Read the texts in the above paragraphs and summarize their teachings about justification and the way in which we experience it in our own lives.
The experience of forgiveness ends the sinner’s vulnerability to God’s wrath and clears away any barriers to reconciliation and fellowship between God and humans. A new life opens up for the sinner, who has the privilege of living in fellowship with Christ under the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Repentance is the prerequisite for entering into the experience of forgiveness and justification, and it comes accompanied by confession and baptism (Acts 2:38, 1 John 1:9). This helps to explain the fact that although forgiveness is available to all, not all will be forgiven.
Where would you be if you couldn’t lean on the promise, every moment of your life, that your acceptance with God is based on what Jesus has done for you, and not on yourself or your own performance and law-keeping?