“And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
but you were justified
“Justified” means declared righteous. This is a forensic (legal) act by God whereby He puts us into the same status that Jesus has before God forever. God puts Christ’s righteousness to our account at one point forever (doctrine of imputation) immediately at the point we place our faith in the finished work of Christ.
Romans 3:24, …being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Romans 5:9, Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
in the name of the Lord Jesus
The “name of the Lord Jesus” represents all that He is and all that He has done on our behalf – washed, sanctified, justified.
and by the Spirit of our God.
The Holy Spirit is God’s agent for washing, sanctifying, and justifying believers. The preacher preaches to the mind, but the Holy Spirit preaches to the heart.
God causes the believer to have as much righteousness as He has at the point of trust in Christ’s work on the cross for sin.
Justification is a work of God, not man. God declares us as righteous as Jesus is righteous when we place our faith in His sacrifice for our sins. How good does a person have to be to go to heaven? The answer is “as good as God is good.” There is no person as good as God is good (Romans 1-3); therefore, God has to declare us as righteous as He is righteous judicially or legally because Christ suffered sufficiently for our sin. He placated God’s righteous justice.
God would compromise His own character if He allowed me, with even a flash of pride, into His presence. God can tolerate no sin of any kind. This is an absolute issue with God. God has no way around His own character, so He has to resolve that issue by the substitutionary death of Christ for our sin. Have you, with mutual exclusivity, put your trust in Christ’s death and nothing else for your sin?