The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is
effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the
beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at
Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from
sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high.
“Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sancti
fication and renewal of the interior man.”
detaches man from sin
which contradicts the
love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon
God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man
with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.
Justification is at the same time
the acceptance of God’s
through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “jus
tice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification,
faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience
to the divine will is granted us.
Justification has been
merited for us by the Passion of Christ
who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and
pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of
atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in
Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness
of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its
purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart
from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to
it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for
all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified
by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in
Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his
blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s
righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had
passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time
that he himself is righteous and that he justifies himwho has
faith in Jesus.
39 Council of Trent (1547): DS 1528.
40 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1529.