Justification is the "judicial act whereby God imputes the righteousness of Christ to sinner" (p. 130). It is a declaration by God, not by works of man, in which the almighty declares sins freely pardoned and believers accounted righteous and worthy of eternal life. Justification involves a "change in the believer's standing before God rather than a change of nature" (p. 134). The grounds of the believer's new standing before God is Christ's righteousness which is imparted through the faith of the believer.
"The basis for acceptance with God is not our faith but its object" (p. 149). This is a perfect, divine, and foreign righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ alone without good works in advance, although believers are called to good works afterwards which then offer evidence of justification. Believers are not perfect after being justified since their sin nature remains, but "God accounts them righteous and forgives them because of their faith in his Son Jesus Christ" (p. 134). "Justification signifies that God clothes believers with the alien righteousness of Christ so that sins are forgiven, we are made pleasing to God, and his wrath is averted" (p. 135). After justification it is just-as-if-I'd-never-sinned. The negative side of justification is the non-imputation of sins, "cleansing from defilement of sin," "annulment of condemnation," and "deliverance from divine wrath" (p. 143). The positive side of justification is the "(bestowal) of reconciliation with God," "inner peace," "adoption as children into the family of God," and the gracious gift of eternal life" (p. 143).
Source: Lewis and Demest, "Integrative Theology," Volume III (2003), page number as indicated.