(See IMPUTE .) "The just shall live by faith" (Habakkuk 2:4) is thrice quoted by Paul:
(1) Romans 1:17, where the emphasis is on "just," the gospel plan of saving men sets forth "the righteousness (justice) of God" as excluding the righteousness of man, Gentile and Jew alike (Romans 1:17 ff; Romans 2; Romans 3:25).
(2) Galatians 3:11, etc., where the emphasis is on "faith" as distinguished front works, either distinct from or combined with faith, in the act of justification, this is by faith alone.
(3) Hebrews 10:38-39, where the emphasis is on "live"; as in the first instance in the matter of justification, so throughout, spiritual life is continued only by faith as opposed to "drawing back."
Again, the gratuitousness of God's gift of justification is brought out by comparing Romans 3:24, "being justified freely ( doorean ) by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," with John 15:25, "they hated ME without a cause" ( doorean ). As gratuitous as was man's hatred, so gratuitous is God's love justifying believers through Christ. Man had every cause to love, yet he hated, God; God had every cause given by man to hate, yet He loves, man. The Hebrew tsadaquw , Greek dikaioo , expresses, not to infuse righteousness into but to impute it to, man; to change his relation to God legally or forensically, not in the first instance to change his character. "Justification" is no more an infusion of righteousness than "condemnation," its opposite, is an infusion of wickedness, as is proved by Deuteronomy 25:1, "the judges shall justify the righteous and condemn the wicked," Proverbs 17:15; Isaiah 5:23; Psalm 143:2, which shows that by inherent righteousness no man could be justified.
In 40 Old Testament passages the Hebrew is used in the forensic sense, Isaiah 53:11, "by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many" is no exception, for the mode of His justifying them follows, "He shall bear their iniquities." So in Daniel 12:3 ministers "justify" or "turn to righteousness" their converts instrumentally, i.e. bring them to God who justifies them. In Daniel 8:14, margin, "the sanctuary shall be justified" means "shall be vindicated from profanation," shall stand in a relation of right before God which it had not done before its cleansing. Similarly the Greek verb means not to make righteous or pure, but to count righteous before God. Opposed to katakrinoo , "to condemn", Romans 8:33-34; "who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?" Also Romans 5:16; Luke 18:14. Matthew 11:19 means like Daniel 8:14, "wisdom is vindicated from the condemnation" east on her by "this generation."
Also Matthew 12:37; Luke 7:29, the publicans "justified God"; i.e. vindicated His righteousness, showed they counted Him righteous in His "counsel" by accepting the gospel; opposed to the Pharisees who "rejected" it, to their own condemnation (Romans 2:13). Before man's bar, ordinarily, the righteousness on account of which he is justified or counted righteous is his own; before God's bar, the righteousness on account of which he is justified is Christ's, which is God's (2 Peter 1:1). Therefore pardon accompanies justification before God's bar, but pardon would be scorned by one innocent and therefore justified before man's bar. Again, acquittal before man is not always accompanied with justification; but the sinner pardoned before God is always justified also. In 1 John 3:7, "he that doeth righteousness is righteous even as He is righteous"; not his doing righteousness makes him righteous, but shows that he is so, i.e. justified by the righteousness of God in Christ (Romans 10:3-10).
A man "deceives" himself if he think himself "righteous," and yet does not righteousness, for "doing righteousness" is the sure fruit and proof of "being righteous," i.e. of having the only principle of true righteousness and the only mean of justification, faith. Paul's epistle to Romans proves Jew and Gentile guilty of breaking God's universal law, therefore incapable of being justified by their own righteousness, i.e. obedience to the law. "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in God's sight; but now (under the gospel) the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, 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, for all have sinned," etc. (Romans 3:20-23). Still plainer is Romans 4:3-8 "to hint that worketh not but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith (i.e. not as a merit, but Christ's merit apprehended by faith: Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:8-10) is counted for righteousness.
David describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works (as man has no righteousness of his own the 'righteousness imputed' to him can only be the righteousness of God in Christ) ... blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." The justified man is not only acquitted as innocent but regarded as having perfectly obeyed the law in the person of Christ. There is to him both the non-imputation of sin and the imputation of righteousness. "Being justified by God's grace he is made heir according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:7; Romans 5:18-19). Christ is "of God made unto us righteousness," so that to believers He is "the Lord our righteousness" (1 Corinthians 1:30; Jeremiah 23:6). Faith is the instrument or receptive mean of justification (Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:8).
We are justified judicially by God (Romans 8:33), meritoriously by Christ (Isaiah 53:11; Romans 5:19), instrumentally or mediately by faith (Romans 5:1), evidentially by works. This is the sense of James (James 2:14-26), otherwise James could no more be reconciled with himself than with Paul, for he quotes the same instance and the same scripture, "Abraham believed God and it (his faith) was counted to him for righteousness," as Paul does. (See JAMES ; FAITH .) Luther called the doctrine of justification by faith only "the article (test) of a standing or falling church." Justin Martyr in the second century (Ep. ad Diog.) writes: "what else could cover our sins but His righteousness? in whom could we transgressors be justified but only in the Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable contrivance! that the transgressions of many should be hidden in one righteous Person and the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors." (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Church of England Homily says: "faith doth not shut out repentance, hope, love, and the fear of God in every man justified, but it shutteth them out from the office of justifying." So: "faith, receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification, yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces." (Westminster Confession xi. 1-2). Rome makes justification the infusion of righteousness by God's Spirit and the rewarding of the good works done under His influence, at the day of judgment. This confounds justification with sanctification whereas Romans 5 and Romans 6 carefully distinguish them, and makes it a continuous process not completed until the judgment, whereas Scripture makes it completed on believing (Romans 5:1-9; Romans 8:1; John 5:24).