One exercise I have always found helpful when doing a word study, is to find other similar passages and substitute the words meaning for the word itself.
Both in biblical and non-biblical literature, the phrase ‘to justify’, and the terms justification and even acquit, whether in Scripture or in the (so-called) secular world, means the exact same thing – to declare righteous.
To declare someone righteous, of course, means that person is legally, forensically, judicially declared to be in conformity to the Law. He has not been made righteous, but declared to be so.
Below are some verses where these terms are use. I’ve substituted the phrase ‘declared (or declared to be) in conformity to the Law’ in their places. Note how the meaning of the term is now crystal clear.
Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not [declare in conformity to the Law] the guilty. – Exodus 23:7
If I sin, then You would take note of me, and would not [declare in conformity to the Law] me of my guilt. – Job 10:14
Then if you have anything to say, answer me; Speak, for I desire to [declare in conformity to the Law] you. – Job 33:32
Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who [declare in conformity to the Law] the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right! – Isaiah 5:22-23
Can I [declare to be in conformity to the Law] wicked scales and a bag of deceptive weights? – Micah 6:11
But wishing to [declare to be in conformity to the Law] himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” – Luke 10:29
And He said to them, “You are those who [declare to be in conformity to the Law] yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God. – Luke 16:15
since indeed God who will [declare to be in conformity to the Law] the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. – Romans 3:30
The Scripture, foreseeing that God would [declare in conformity to the Law] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” – Galatians 3:8
He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our [declared in conformity to the Law] . – Romans 4:25
The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in [declaration to be in conformity to the Law]. – Romans 5:16
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted [declaration to be in conformity to the Law] of life to all men. – Romans 5:18