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Being justified (1344) (dikaioo from dike = right, expected behavior or conformity, not according to one’s own standard, but according to an imposed standard with prescribed punishment for nonconformity) (Click for more discussion of dikaioo) primarily means to deem to be right. Dikaioo describes the act by which a man is brought into a right state of relationship to God. Dikaioo is a legal term having to do with the law and the the courtroom, where it represented the legally binding verdict of the judge. This is the sense in which Paul uses dikaioo in this section in Romans (Ro 3:21-5:11) in which he unfolds the doctrine of justification. Dikaioo - 39 times in the NAS, most often in Romans (11.19" class="scriptRef">Mt 11:19; 12:37; Lk. 7:29, 5" class="scriptRef">35; 10:29; 16:15; 18:14; Acts 13:38, 39; Ro 2:13; 3:4, 20, 24" class="scriptRef">24, 26, 28, 30; 4:2, 5; 5:1, 9; 6:7; 8:30, 33; 1Co 4:4; 6:11; Gal 2:16, 17; 3:8, 11, 24; 5:4; 1Ti 3:16; Titus 3:7; Jas. 2:21, 24, 25) and is translated: acknowledged...justice, 1; acquitted, 1; freed, 3; justified, 24; justifier, 1; justifies, 2; justify, 4; vindicated, 3; Dikaioo is found 28 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (26" class="scriptRef">Ge 38:26; 44:16; Ex 23:7; Deut 25:1; 2Sa 15:4; 1Ki 8:32; 2Chr 6:23; Esther 10:3; Job 33:32; Ps 19:9; 51:4; 73:13; 82:3; 143:2; Isa 1:17; 5:23; 42:21; 43:9, 26; 45:25; 50:8; 53:11; Jer 3:11; Ezek 16:51f; 21:13; 44:24; Mic 6:11; 7:9) The meaning of dikaioo depends on the context and depending on which lexicon you consult you will come up with a variety of definitions so the following is an attempt as classifying most of the NT uses, but please be a Berean and do you own study of this word. (1) To cause someone to be in a proper or right relation with someone else. This use corresponds to the vitally important truth imputed righteousness and thus means to justify or to declare righteous, which is only accomplished by faith and not by works as explained in definition #2. Romans 3:24 being justified (declared righteous and in proper or right relation to God) as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus Titus 3:7 (note) that being justified (declared righteous and in proper or right relation to God) by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (2) To show to be right or righteous. Matthew 11:19 "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated (dikaioo - shown to be right, proved to be in the right and accepted by God) by her deeds." Luke 7:35 "Yet wisdom is vindicated (dikaioo - shown to be right) by all her children." James uses dikaioo in this sense - to show to be righteous. And so we see that Abraham's works show that he was righteous. He had been declared righteous by faith in Genesis 15:6, but was shown to be righteous in Genesis 22, which is the point that James is making in the following passages. James 2:21 (note) Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? (Note: Do not misunderstand. James is not using dikaioo in this context to say a Abraham was declared righteous but that he was shown to be righteous by his work - his willingness to offer Isaac. This "work" was the visible manifestation to men of the fact that at some point in time in the past -- Genesis 15:6 -- Abraham had been justified by faith and declared righteous by God on the basis of his faith, not on the basis of his works. This verse illustrates why it one has to be very careful to observe the context when defining any Greek word. Many people read these three passages in James and are confused because they read them in light of definition #1 above which does not apply to this context. The New Living Translation does an excellent job of accurately paraphrasing this passage to give it the intended meaning... James 2:21 Don't you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? (NLT) James 2:24 (note) You see that a man is justified (shown to be righteous) by works, and not by faith alone. James 2:25 (note) And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified (shown to be righteous) by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? In some cases dikaioo refers to Jesus or God Who are demonstrated to be morally right (Divine vindication)... Romans 3:4 (note) May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, "That Thou mightest be justified (shown to be just) in Thy words, And mightest prevail when Thou art judged." (quoting Ps 51:4) 1Timothy 3:6 (This description refers to Jesus) And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated (dikaioo - shown to be right) in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory. (3) To make free, liberate, set free or release from the control of . This meaning is similar to another Greek verb eleutheroo. BDAG explains that the idea is "to cause someone to be released from personal or institutional claims that are no longer to be considered pertinent or valid" Romans 6:7 For he who has died is freed (dikaioo in the passive voice = has been released) from sin (the power of Sin to which we were enslaved) Acts 13:39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed (dikaioo - passive voice = has been set free) from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. (4) Acknowledging that someone is just or right. Luke 7:29 And when all the people and the tax-gatherers heard this, they acknowledged God's justice, (they acknowledged that God's way was right) having been baptized with the baptism of John. (5) Man declaring that he is just or right. This is something man does and based on his standard of righteousness (self righteousness) not God's standard. Luke 10:29 But wishing to justify (declare himself righteous) himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" (Comment: Notice that this young lawyer is trying to limit the demand of the law by asking "Who is my neighbor?" and by limiting it he would then show that he had fulfilled it. In other words this man would judge himself by his own standard of righteousness -- not God's perfect standard -- but he would not be justified in the sense of definition #1) To understand dikaioo, one needs to understand the root work dike which originally meant manner, tendency and with time came to refer to the designation for the right of established custom or usage. Stated another way, the basic meaning of dike involves the assertion by human society of a certain standard expected by its people which, if not kept, can bring forth ensuing judgment. Thus it can be said that díke is expected behavior or conformity, not according to one's own standard, but according to an imposed standard (here in Romans it is God's standard of righteousness) with prescribed punishment for nonconformity. Dikaioo ends in "-oo" which in Greek brings out that which a person is. Therefore dikaioo brings out the fact that a person is righteous. It means to declare the rightness of something or someone. Leon Morris adds a note on dikaioo writing that... The word is a forensic or legal term with the meaning “acquit”. It is the normal word to use when the accused is declared “Not guilty”. We see its significance in an Old Testament passage: “When men have a dispute, they are to take it to court and the judges will decide the case, acquitting (or, justifying) the innocent and condemning the guilty” (Deut. 25:1). Here the legal meaning is plain, and this remains with the word throughout the range of its biblical use. Some argue that it means “to make righteous”, but this cannot be demonstrated. The impossibility of making righteous is clear when the word is used of God (Ro 3:4-note). It is plain also in the use of the future tense “will be justified” (Ro 2:13-note), for the reference is to Judgment Day and no one will be “made righteous” on that day. Moreover, that passage refers to “the doers of law” as “justified”, but by definition “doers of law” are righteous: they cannot be “made” righteous. The declaratory meaning is clear. It is to be inferred also from the fact that it stands in opposition to condemnation. “To condemn” does not mean “to make wicked”, but “to declare guilty”; similarly, “to justify” means “to declare just” (Morris, L. The Epistle to the Romans. W. B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press) Expositor's Bible Commentary explains dikaioo as follows... In classical Greek the verb dikaioo was sometimes used to mean "do right by a person, give him justice." As a result, it could be used in the sense of "condemn." But in its biblical setting it is used in the opposite sense, namely, "to acquit" (Ex 23:7; Dt 25:1). It is clear both from the OT and the NT that dikaioo is a forensic term; it is the language of the law court. But to settle on "acquittal" as the meaning of justification is to express only a part of the range of the word, even though an important part (Acts 13:39). There is a positive side that is even more prominent in NT usage--"to consider, or declare to be, righteous." The word does not mean "to make righteous," that is, to effect a change of character. Because he considered it ethically deplorable that God should account righteous those who have been and to some extent continue to be sinful, Goodspeed defied the linguistic evidence and rendered dikaioo "to make upright." He failed to realize that the question of character and conduct belongs to a different area, namely, sanctification, and is taken up by Paul in due course, whereas justification relates to status and not to condition. (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament. Zondervan Publishing) Vine says that dikaioo means "to show, or declare, to be right.” In the N.T. it mostly signifies “to declare a person to be righteous before God." (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson ) In simple terms dikaioo as used here in Romans means to declare a person to be righteous or right before God. Only God can declare a man righteous and yet men continually seek ways to make themselves righteous. OH SO CLOSE! Luke 10:25-29 In the gospels we encounter a certain lawyer (a scribe who was supposedly an expert in the law of God) approach Jesus to put Him to the test asking "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Lk 10:25). Jesus responded to the question with another question for this one who knew the Law asking "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" (Lk 10:26) The lawyer answered Jesus "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." (Lk 10:27) This was indeed an excellent answer, the lawyer summing up the requirements of the law (Lev 19:18, Dt 6:5) exactly as Jesus Himself had done on another occasion (see Mt 22:37, 28, 29, 40) And so Jesus responded "You have answered correctly; do (present imperative - as the habit of your life - something ultimately only possible in a man or woman who has a supernatural source, i.e., the Holy Spirit Who is given to all who are justified by faith in Christ) this, and you will live. (literally in Greek do and live - "poiei kai zoen")" But wishing to justify (dikaioo) himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Lk 10:28, 29) "" was indeed the promise of the law (see Lev 18:5, Ezek 20:11). But since no sinner can obey perfectly, the impossible demands of the law were always meant to drive us to seek God's mercy (Gal 3:10, 11, 12, 13, 22, 23, 24, 25) and His righteousness in the Righteous One, the Messiah. The lawyer should have responded with a confession of his guilt, but instead attempted to justify himself with his question "Who is my neighbor?" The prevailing opinion among scribes and Pharisees in Jesus' day was that one’s neighbors were the "righteous" (at least those they considered "righteous"). According to them, the wicked, like tax collectors and especially Samaritans—were to be hated because they were the enemies of God. They cited (Ps 139:21, 22) to justify their position. Jesus teaching on the familiar passage of the good Samaritan demolished any hope this lawyer had to make himself righteous (dikaioo). Being justified is an act of God (Ro 8:33-note) Who takes the initiative (cp Ep 1:4-note, 1Pe 1:2-note, 2Th 2:13) and provides the means through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. The sinner who believes in Christ receives God's gift of righteousness (Ro 1:17-note, Ro 5:17-note), which then enables God to pronounce him righteous (both Just & Justifier - Ro 3:26-note). This verse is perhaps the most thorough soteriological (dealing with teaching on salvation) passage in the New Testament. John MacArthur writes that Being justified refers back to the “alls” of the previous two verses-all those who have believed, of whom all were sinful. Just as there is no distinction among those who need salvation, there is no distinction among those who receive it, because they all are justified as a gift by His grace. Dikaioo means to declare the rightness of something or someone. Justification is God’s declaration that all the demands of the law are fulfilled on behalf of the believing sinner through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Justification is a wholly forensic, or legal, transaction. It changes the judicial standing of the sinner before God. In justification, God imputes (Ed: reckons, places on one's "account") the perfect righteousness of Christ to the believer’s account, then declares the redeemed one fully righteous. Justification must be distinguished from sanctification, in which God actually imparts Christ’s righteousness to the sinner. While the two must be distinguished, justification and sanctification can never be separated. God does not justify whom He does not sanctify. (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press) (Bolding added) In salvation dikaioo describes the legal act whereby God declares the believing sinner righteous on the basis of the blood of Christ. Justification is not doled out piecemeal over a period of time through mediatorial agents and ritual observances. Stated another way, justification is not a process but is an act that occurs once and need not be repeated. It is something God does, not man. Justification is not subject to recall so that you have to get it over and over again (as in Radical Arminian churches). Justification is not a change wrought by God in us, but a change of our relation to God. Justification describes a person’s status in the sight of the law, not the condition of his or her character. The condition of one’s character and conduct is that with which sanctification deals. Wiersbe - Do not confuse justification and sanctification. Sanctification is the process whereby God makes the believer more and more like Christ. Sanctification may change from day to day. Justification never changes. When the sinner trusts Christ, God declares him righteous, and that declaration will never be repealed. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor) (Bolding added) Being justified is once and for all time and as such defines the believers permanent state. Just as you may not be tried for the same crime again after being acquitted, God's justification means you will never be tried or condemned by Him again for your sins--past, present, or future. This is good news indeed. To reiterate, justification is not an act of God that makes us righteous but is an act of God that declares us righteous based on what Christ accomplished on Calvary. Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness by Nikolaus von Zinzendorf (Bio) (Play) Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress; ’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head. Bold shall I stand in Thy great day; For who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully absolved through these I am From sin and fear, from guilt and shame. The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb, Who from the Father’s bosom came, Who died for me, e’en me to atone, Now for my Lord and God I own. Lord, I believe Thy precious blood, Which, at the mercy seat of God, Forever doth for sinners plead, For me, e’en for my soul, was shed. Lord, I believe were sinners more Than sands upon the ocean shore, Thou hast for all a ransom paid, For all a full atonement made. When from the dust of death I rise To claim my mansion in the skies, Ev’n then this shall be all my plea, Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me. This spotless robe the same appears, When ruined nature sinks in years; No age can change its glorious hue, The robe of Christ is ever new. Jesus, the endless praise to Thee, Whose boundless mercy hath for me— For me a full atonement made, An everlasting ransom paid. O let the dead now hear Thy voice; Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice; Their beauty this, their glorious dress, Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness. MacDonald emphasizes this distinction between "make" and "declare" righteous, writing that... To justify does not mean to actually make a person righteous. We cannot make God righteous; He already is righteous. But we can declare Him to be righteous. God does not make the believer sinless or righteous in himself. Rather, God puts righteousness to his account. As A. T. Pierson put it, God in justifying sinners actually calls them righteous when they are not—does not impute sin where sin actually exists, and does impute righteousness where it does not exist. (Believer's Bible Commentary) At God’s Lighthouse Mission in Manhattan the men who attended services in the ’50s were drilled nightly in Bible verses and in a particular definition of “justified.” Justified, they were taught to repeat, means “just as if I had never sinned in the sight of God.” I was taught this same phrase in Men's Bible Study Fellowship - "Justified" ~ "Just As If I Had Never Sinned". This teaching is not entirely accurate for as discussed above dikaioo, means to be acquitted or to be pronounced righteous. It is not “just as if I had never sinned” and thus it does not go far enough. More accurately it is "just as if I had lived as perfect a life as Jesus did!" Once, when my normal green-tinted sunglasses were lost, I put on a rose-colored pair. And everything I saw through them was rose colored. Justification is a little like this. God sees you and me through "Christ-colored glasses." When God looks at the person who believes in His Son, He sees the righteousness of Jesus Himself. As someone has well said justification goes beyond acquittal to approval and beyond pardon to promotion. Acquittal means only that a person is set free from a charge. Justification means that positive righteousness is imputed. It is important to realize that justification is a reckoning that takes place in the mind of God. It is not something a believer feels. The believer can be certain it has taken place because the Bible says so. C I Scofield expressed it this way Justification is that act of God whereby He declares righteous all who believe in Jesus. It is something which takes place in the mind of God, not in the nervous system or emotional nature of the believer. Dikaioo in other contexts can mean vindicated, proved, pronounced as, declared or shown to be. For example, Paul in recording part of an early church hymn describes Jesus as He Who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated (dikaioo) in the Spirit. (NAS,1Ti 3:16 - note KJV reads "justified in the Spirit" which is somewhat confusing.) Comment: Vindicated in this context is easier to understand if translated as "declared (or shown) to be righteous" (with respect to His spiritual nature). The NLT paraphrased version renders it "shown to be righteous by the Spirit" Dikaioo is used in this way in Romans 3 where Paul writes let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “That Thou mightest be justified (dikaioo - shown to be right, proved to be right) in Thy words" (see note Romans 3:4) C H Spurgeon writes What is justification? A. Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins (Ro 3:24-note; Eph 1:7-note), and accepts us as righteous in His sight (2Cor 5:21) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Ro 5:19-note), and received by faith alone (Gal 2:16; Php 3:9-note). Note: This discussion is not intended to be an exhaustive treatment of the verb dikaioo or of the profound doctrine of justification. For a more exhaustive treatment I would highly recommended Dr Wayne Grudem's work, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (IVP; Zondervan, 1994) (or click here for Grudem's work in computer format). The following quote is taken from his book and emphasizes the crucial importance of an accurate understanding of dikaioo and the doctrine of justification. Grudem writes that... A right understanding of justification is absolutely crucial to the whole Christian faith. Once Martin Luther realized the truth of justification by faith alone, he became a Christian and overflowed with the new-found joy of the gospel. The primary issue in the Protestant Reformation was a dispute with the Roman Catholic Church over justification. If we are to safeguard the truth of the gospel for future generations, we must understand the truth of justification. Even today, a true view of justification is the dividing line between the biblical gospel of salvation by faith alone and all false gospels of salvation based on good works. (Systematic Theology) (Bolding added) JUSTIFY by Kenneth Wuest The words justify, justification, righteous, righteousness, just, right, meet, are all translations of the same Greek root. The verb justify is dikaióō, the noun righteousness, dikaiosune, the adjective righteous, dikaios. This means that all these words have a general meaning that is common to all of them, even though their individual meaning may differ slightly. This again means that there is a definite and vital connection between the act of justifying and the righteousness of the individual who has been justified. We will look first at the usage of these words in pagan Greek literature. “In pagan Greece the dikaios person is he who does not selfishly nor yet self-for-gettingly transgress the bounds fixed for him, and gives to everyone his own, yet still desires what is his, and does not in the least withdraw the assertion of his own claims.” Paul uses dikaios in its purely classical sense in Ro 5:7 (note). In the biblical sense, dikaios is “what is right, conformable to right, answering to the claims of usage, custom, or right.… The fundamental idea is that of a state or condition conformable to order, apart from the consideration whether usage or custom or other factors determine the order or direction. Thus, dikaios is synonymous with agathos (good -word study), only that dikaios is a conception of a relation and presupposes a norm, whereas the subject of agathos is its own norm.” In understanding the words justify and righteous, as they are used in the New Testament, it should always be kept in mind that their meaning is not a subjective one but an objective one. That is, the content of meaning in these words is not to be determined by each individual Bible expositor. If that were the case, what is righteous one day, may not be righteous the next. The content of meaning in that case would be dependent upon the fluctuating standards and ethics of men. With the present trend towards the teaching of the relativity of all truth, this method of interpretation becomes a most vicious thing. What is right one day may be wrong the next. God is the objective standard which determines the content of meaning of dikaios, and at the same time keeps that content of meaning constant and unchanging, since He is the unchanging One. Righteousness in the biblical sense is a condition of rightness the standard of which is God, which is estimated according to the divine standard, which shows itself in behavior conformable to God, and has to do above all things with its relation to God, and with the walk before Him. It is, and it is called dikaiosune theou (righteousness of God) (Ro 3:21-note, Ro1:17-note), righteousness as it belongs to God, and is of value before Him, Godlike righteousness, see Eph 4:24 (note); with this righteousness thus defined, the gospel (Ro 1:17-note) comes into the world of nations which had been wont to measure by a different standard. Righteousness in the Scripture sense is a thoroughly religious conception, designating the normal relation of men and their acts, etc., to God. Righteousness in the profane mind is a preponderatingly social virtue, only with a certain religious background.” Justification in the Bible sense therefore is the act of God removing from the believing sinner, his guilt and the penalty incurred by that guilt, and bestowing a positive righteousness, Christ Jesus Himself in Whom the believer stands, not only innocent and uncondemned, but actually righteous in point of law for time and for eternity. The words justify, justification, righteous, righteousness, as used of man in his relation to God, have a legal, judicial basis. God is the Judge, man the defendant. God is the standard of all righteousness. The white linen curtains of the court of the Tabernacle, symbolized the righteousness which God is, the righteousness which God demands of any human being who desires to fellowship with Him, and the righteousness which God provides on the basis of the acceptance on the sinner’s part, of the Lord Jesus who perfectly satisfied the just demands of God’s holy law which we broke. A just person therefore is one who has been thus declared righteous (Ro 1:17-note). The word is used in its non-legal sense in Phil 1:7 (note) and Lk 12:57 for instance, where it speaks of conduct that is conformable to what is right. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) (This resource is highly recommended if you enjoy Greek word studies) Gingrich clarifies the meaning of justification emphasizing that it is... not an executive act of mercy (pardoning) nor an efficient act of power (sanctifying or making righteous), but is a judicial act of grace (declaring righteous). To pardon means to mercifully remit punishment without removing the grounds for condemnation. To sanctify means to make holy and good, to change moral character. To justify means to declare righteous (or just), to impute righteousness to, to proclaim that one is in right relationship to God’s holy law, to announce that the demands of justice have been satisfied, to declare that there are no grounds for condemnation and that punishment cannot be justly imposed. The opposite of to pardon is to punish; the opposite of to sanctify is to make unholy; the opposite of to justify is to condemn. Proverbs 17:15, Isaiah 5:23; Romans 2:13 (note); Ro 3:4 (note) prove that justifying is not pardoning or sanctifying, but is the judicial proclamation of freedom from condemnation, based, not upon something done by the sinner, nor upon something done by God in the sinner but upon something done by Christ for, and then imputed to, the sinner. (Gingrich, R. E. The Book of Romans) AS A GIFT: dorean: Awake My Soul To Joyful Lays** by Samuel Medley, ca 1782 (Play) Awake, my soul, in joyful lays, And sing my great Redeemer’s praise; He justly claims a song from me, His loving kindness, oh, how free. Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, O how free! He saw me ruined in the fall, And loved me, notwithstanding all. He saved me from my lost estate, Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, O how great! Though numerous hosts of mighty foes, Though earth and hell my way oppose, He safely leads my soul along - His lovingkindness, O how strong! Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, O how strong! When trouble, like a gloomy cloud, Has gathered thick and thundered loud, He near my soul has always stood - His lovingkindness, O how good! Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, O how good! Often I feel my sinful heart Prone from my Jesus to depart; But though I have him oft forgot, His lovingkindness changes not. Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness changes not. Soon I shall pass the gloomy vale, Soon all my mortal powers must fail; O! may my last expiring breath His lovingkindness sing in death. Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness sing in death. Then let me mount and soar away To the bright world of endless day; And sing with raptures and surprise, His lovingkindness in the skies. Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness in the skies. ** Lays = Songs It is not a matter of wages or merit but is a free gift that originates in the grace of God. It means being justified without any prior conditions being met. We do not merit justification, but we enjoy it because of Christ's precious blood given as our ransom price.

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