Thus far, we have touched on each of these elements. In the first observation, we talked about how justification presupposes God's wrath. This has to do with God's justice. Because God is just, sin cannot go unnoticed. Sin demands a judgment from a holy God. The judgement is death. In fact, in the book of proverbs it is stated, "He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD" (Proverbs 17:15). If the Bible testifies that we are wicked, how is it that God justifies us. This goes against His justice.
However, this is where the second element comes in. While we deserve God's wrath because we have sinned, God is infinitely gracious in showing us mercy. His mercy is shown in providing us a way out. The single greatest act of grace is seen at the cross, where God's justice and mercy meet. Jesus absorbed the wrath that we deserve.
The Bible teaches that God can only justify us because his justice is satisfied. Jesus satisfied God's justice in his substitutionary death on our behalf. Therefore, if we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9). The penalty is paid. Justice is served. We are justified if our trust is in Jesus' acts on our behalf.
As the famous hymn 'Let us Love and Sing and Wonder' puts it,
Let us wonder grace and justice
Join and point to mercy's store
When through grace in Christ our trust is
Justice smiles and asks no more.