There is all the difference between trying to work for our justification, and working because we are justified; between trying to work for our perfection, and working because our perfection is secured in Christ.
Glories of Justification
Chapter after chapter and verse-by-verse, Paul reveals the glories of justification – the fall into sin by one man:- Adam..
Paul builds up his case by showing that the Law’s perfection caused sins to increase. Men’s inability to keep the Law demonstrated the amazing grace of our justification, showing that where sin increased, the grace of God abounded all the more.
“The trouble of the believer who knows Christ as his justification, is not sin..
And just as the knowledge that Christ died for sin (died as our atonement) is indispensable to our justification; so the knowledge that Christ and we, with Him, in the likeness of His death, are dead to sin – is indispensable to our sanctification” (Like Christ, p.176).
“If the great Luther, with his stirring message of justification by faith, had with Paul moved on from Romans 5 to Romans 6 with its amazing declarations concerning the now justified sinner’s position of identification with his crucified Lord, would not stifled Protestantism be on higher ground today?
Thorough and intelligent establishment in the principle of grace concerning one's justification (re-birth) is the necessary footing for reliance upon the same principle for one's sanctification (growth).
Justification and Sanctification
In Hebrews 10:10 we read:- we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all, while in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 we read:- May the God of peace himself make you holy in every way.
A superficial acquaintance with God's plan leads to the view that while justification is God's work, by faith in Christ, sanctification is our work, to be performed under the influence of the gratitude we feel for the deliverance we have experienced and by the aid of the Holy Spirit.
Justification and Sanctification
It is also vital also to rightly divide between justification and sanctification. 1) Justification – the salvation of the spirit : born into the family of God. 2) Sanctification – the salvation of the soul... living as a child of God. 1) Justification – born again once and in eternal union with Christ forever. 2) Sanctification – growing in grace throughout life.
The bible rightly divides between justification and sanctification.
See Romans; Corinthians; Galatians – justification; sanctification; glorification – and we discover that the church is not under the Law but under grace.
Many teachers consider discipleship as integral to the initial stage of salvation… making discipleship a requirement of salvation – an add on to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ..” But salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Sanctification like justification and glorification is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit. Only believers can be sanctified, for God will never set apart the unsaved unto Himself. Oh!
Andrew Murray explains:- A superficial acquaintance with God’s plan leads to the view that while justification is God’s work, by faith in Christ… sanctification (growth) is our work… to be performed under the influence of the gratitude we feel for the deliverance we have experienced, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit. As a result, many sincere Christians set out on this path..
What he thinks is that justification is God’s work – but sanctification is ‘mine’.
Paul was to be God’s revealer of the great doctrinal truths of predestination, election, justification, sanctification, glorification, and our heavenly position in Christ Jesus – but the wider plan of God for the Church age was waiting to be opened up by Paul.
Dear friends, we are God’s children now (justification), and what we will be (glorification) has not yet been revealed.
It’s a single concept with differing forms: 1) justification; 2) sanctification; 3) glorification.
One Gift of Grace
Salvation is ONE and yet salvation is THREE – for we were saved at a single point in time:- (justified) We are being saved through the passage of time:- (sanctification) and at a point in time, known only to God, we will be finally fully saved:- (glorified). There are not 3 salvations, but ONE gift of grace that is accessed by faith, in Christ, God’s ONE gift of salvation has THREE elements – 1) justification, 2) sanctification, and 3)glorification.
We need to know the meanings of justification, sanctification, and glorification.
Justification – PAST
There are many passages that distinguish between these three tenses of salvation, In 2 Timothy 1:9 we discover God saved us – a past event, that took place at a point in time, when we were saved from the penalty of sin i.e.
eternal separation from God. Salvation in this verse is given the term justification – for we are justified by grace.
In this verse, Salvation is a done deal – a past event, when we were made righteous. Justification is a past event – and is the first of three meanings of SALVATION.
Although justification happens at a point in time – sanctification is a lifelong process. Sanctification is an ongoing, lifelong process in a believer, BUT though God desires all His children to be sanctified – not all believers are willing to be set apart unto Him.
Victory Versus Defeat
Apostolic teaching implies the possibility of Christian holiness and joyous living – championing the justification that the life of heaven has already begun on earth!! But while the pages of scripture emphasise an ideal Christian walk – actuality can be very far removed.
The word ‘salvation’ is one all-embracing word that unites a variety of concepts; redemption; rebirth; justification; security; sanctification; growth; maturity; foreknowledge; election; predestination; righteousness; glorification; grace; reconciliation; new-life-in-Christ; new creation; adoption; saved by grace; born-from-above; baptised into Christ; accepted-in Him; citizens of heaven - and more.
All facets of Salvation are by the power of God and because of the grace of God. All God does in redemption, rebirth, justification; and sanctification is by grace.
Past Present and Future
Justification was the element of salvation that freed us from the PENALTY of sin.
Justification is a past event in time – and happened when we first believe, and Glorification is a future event in time – and will be finalised at Christ’s return. Sanctification is connected with our Christian life today.
Although justification happens at a point in time – sanctification is a life-long process.
But God will never violate our volition should we choose to refuse. Everyone whom God in His omniscience knew would choose to believe in Jesus Christ for their justification are predestined to be glorified at His glorious return..
When justification, the forgiveness of sin, eternal life, a home in heaven, conformity into the likeness of the Son of the most High God, an immortal body and innumerable, additional spiritual blessings are given to us, in exchange for faith - in the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Christ, it must appear to be indisputably disproportionate, with the eternal benefits that we receive.
We are to stop being bottle-fed with the simple justification truths of scripture, and are to start to wrestle with the tougher aspects of our Christian faith, where we learn obedience by the things that we suffer, through a process of ongoing sanctification - where we are being conformed into the likeness of Jesus, Himself.
And among the many instruction toward maturing in our Christian life is the directive :- be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. Indeed being filled with the Spirit is not a one-off occurrence like our justification, but we are to continue being filled with the Spirit - day by day throughout our earthy life.
While the first 5 chapters of Romans deals with how to be saved - justification, the next chapters deal with how to live the Christian life - sanctification. Chapters 6 and 8 explain how to live the Christian life..
We are not able to save ourselves FROM sin (justification) and we are not able to live the Christian live in our own strength (sanctification) It is ALL through Christ and Him ALONE.
In this section, Paul is writing about the justification aspect of salvation i.e.
Although we are also to live by faith, to walk by faith, and to pray in faith throughout our earthly life (the ongoing process of our sanctification) the emphasis of this particular passage is initial salvation (justification).
Religious Jews challenged this truth, but Paul used these two patriarchs to show from the Law (Genesis to Deuteronomy), from the Psalms, and from the Prophets, that justification in the sight of the Lord is through faith alone.
Not only do the glories of our justification result in peace with God, a firm standing in God's grace, and a rejoicing hope in Him, but we can allow His peace to reign in our hearts so that we can even exult in our tribulations, knowing the trials of life and the difficulties we endure bring about perseverance which develops strength of character and a solid hope in the Lord.
All who are justified by faith in Christ's atoning work at Calvary are wonderfully saved... but justification is the first step towards a life that is lived by faith - day after day - a life that stands firm on the promises of God and refuses to be shaken by the circumstances that surround us, for to do so honours our God and Saviour.
This is not a prophecy about the justification of individual people coming to faith in their Messiah, but the whole nation - the lost sheep of the house of Israel being brought back to their land and collectively coming to faith in their Messiah.
Having led us step by step to the realization that we are all unrighteous sinners in need of a Saviour and having made it crystal clear that we are saved as a gift of God's grace through faith in the unchangeable Word of truth, Paul guides us through the meaning of justification - (which means being declared righteous by God - through faith in Christ) and he outlines reasons why we can only be proclaimed righteous by faith in Christ alone, and not because of our own merit..
The death, burial and resurrection of Christ not only secured our justification by faith but also it assures us that we will be delivered from any future wrath of God..
He continues by presenting the doctrine of justification by faith in his third chapter, and then expands his reasoning in chapter 4, with examples of biblical characters who believed God's Word... and whose faith was credited as righteousness.
Abraham was justified in the eyes of God hundreds of years before the Law was given to Israel, and Paul used Abraham to show that justification is not connected with keeping the Law.
By using Abraham and David as examples of justification by faith, Paul was able to show that the legalistic teaching that men are saved by obeying the Law, is false and unbiblical.
It was this ONE transgression that resulted in the condemnation of all men, but it was also through ONE amazing act of righteousness, that resulted in justification of life to all men.
It was one act of disobedience that placed us under God's eternal condemnation, and one act of willing obedience, that brought justification of life to all men - and it is received simply by faith in the finished work of Christ.
so by ONE act of obedience we can all be declared righteous and receive justification of life.
so too by Christ's one act of obedience we are declared righteous and receive justification of life- by faith in Him.
It was by God's grace that Adam's condemnation rested on ONE single act of disobedience - in order that by God's grace man's redemption could also rest on ONE act of obedience - one single act of sacrifice which made possible the justification of all who will believe.
but the gift of God is eternal life for those that are IN CHRIST, for His one act of righteousness results in justification of life for all who believe.
It denounces justification by works of the law, insists that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone, and like the epistles to the Romans and Hebrews, it quotes the singular, most noteworthy verse from Habakkuk that prompted the great 16th century reformation, The just shall live by faith.
Having defended his divinely appointed apostleship, clearly expounded the gospel of grace, and insisted that justification is by faith alone through faith in Christ, and not by works of the Law, he turns his attention on how to put his teachings into practice - how to live by faith.
and that salvation - both our justification and sanctification as well as our final glorification is ours by faith in Christ alone... and not by works - for salvation is not dependent on what we DO but on what Christ has already DONE.
However, before detailing the differences between justification, sanctification, propitiation and a whole host of theological issues, Paul spends the best part of three chapters, drumming home the truth - that man is a sinner, at enmity with God, and that the wages of sin is death - not only physical death, but eternal separation from God, in the eternal lake of fire.
Astonishingly, the judgement that arose from ONE sinful act of ONE man, which placed everyman under condemnation and imputed all his offspring with a sin nature... has resulted in the justification of everyone who becomes the spiritual offspring of the ONE righteous act of ONE Man!
No wonder Paul was able to proclaim, The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions... resulting in justification.
As overwhelming as this gift of justification by faith in Christ may be, there is so much more associated with our free gift of salvation.
He argues that in the light of the amazing grace of God that has been showered upon us all, and the manifold mercies He has poured upon all His children - including our past justification, our ongoing sanctification and our future glorification - we should live a life that is worthy of our calling.
Just as there are three 'tenses' of our great Salvation (justification, sanctification, and glorification), so also the Bible identifies three 'tenses' of Sanctification - POSITIONAL sanctification, PRACTICAL or PROGRESSIVE sanctification, and COMPLETED sanctification.
Another term for 'justification' is 'positional sanctification' and we are positionally sanctified the moment we trust in Christ Jesus as Saviour.
Paul lays out the most comprehensive and thorough presentation of the gospel over the next few chapters of this glorious epistle, unfolding the pivotal doctrines of justification, and sanctification for all, who by grace through faith will trust in Christ as their sin-substitute.
In his enthusiasm to share the good news of the gospel of grace, Paul not only reminds us about justification by grace through faith and the hope that we have in Christ, but he adds, and not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance.
And packaged in our great salvation, is not only justification (when we first believed) - but sanctification (as we grow in grace throughout our Christian life,) and also glorification (when Jesus returns to take us to be with Himself in heaven.)
It was the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ -(justification), and it was the gospel of life and liberty in Christ -(sanctification), and not the legalistic bondage suffered under the Law and the curse that brings in it wake.
Just as the sufferings of Christ brought salvation (justification) and comfort to those who believe - so too the suffering and pain that we endure for the sake of righteousness, will be beneficial for the sanctification and comfort of others in their spiritual growth.
Areas such as our new birth and the deity of Christ together with the subjects of our justification, sanctification, growing in grace and our Christian development are areas that both apostles taught in their writings, together with Christ’s sinless life and His eternal power.
Justification is not the final destination in our 'so-great-salvation' but the first step into a life where we are called to live by faith, so that the life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.
in HIS strength, to work out our own salvation in reverential fear and trembling - for when we consider the heavens and the work of God's fingers - the moon and the stars, which He has made - who are we that God is mindful of us - and yet He desires in this brief span of time:- (between our justification and our glorification), that we work out our own salvation, in humility of heart and to His praise and glory - so that in the ages to come He may show forth the incomparable riches of His grace, which He has expressed in His kindness towards us, in Christ Jesus.
Paul's condemnation of the legalisers in Galatia was a very stern warning to which we too should all pay careful heed, for if adherence to Jewish laws or any other from of eastern, western or denominational legalism is an additional requirement for justification, sanctification or glorification, it renders the cross superfluous.
For almost three chapters Paul is hammering home this vital truth that nothing we can do can make us righteous before God - nothing. And he insists in many of his epistles that justification is not dependent on what WE do, but rests entirely upon what Christ has DONE - for we have all sinned and we all fall short of His perfect standard.
He give meticulous insight into justification, sanctification, propitiation and many other important doctrinal issues and uses Abraham as his object lesson that the righteous man shall live by faith in the written Word of God - and insists that the object of that faith is Jesus Christ, the righteous.
Having been credited with His righteousness by faith (justification) we are also to live by faith (sanctification)... for we read that the righteous shall live by faith as well as being saved through faith.
They were originally washed clean of their sins when they initially trusted Christ for their justification and confessed, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, which was first declared through Peter.
At justification, we are washed by the water of the Word of God and declared righteous... by faith.
As a Hebrew of the Hebrews and a highly educated Pharisee, who held the most advantageous Jewish pedigree, Paul took pains to emphasize that although the Jewish nation was God's chosen people, they do not hold a monopoly on God's justification and redemption..
for justification and redemption is by grace through faith in Christ - to Jew and Gentile alike.
They considered that it conflicted with much of Paul's teaching. But once it is understood that these theologians thought James was writing about the initial JUSTIFICATION of a sinner instead of teaching about the ongoing SANCTIFICION of a saved individual, the content begins to make sense.
Paul wrote a very important letter, not only emphasising his God-ordained, apostolic authority but also reiterating the vital truth of the gospel of grace and the doctrine of justification, which he had received directly from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul presented an excellent defence of justification by faith in his epistle and also gave a detailed exposition of the purpose of the Law... before presenting three important contrasts between Israel in the pre-Cross dispensation of LAW, and the Church in this post-Cross dispensation of GRACE.
The Judaisers of Paul's day and the religious legalists of today who insist that salvation, justification, and sanctification, must include certain legalistic practices and religious rites may have good intentions, but they are teaching a false and dangerous gospel.
But unlike justification, which takes place at the moment of salvation and is not repeatable... ongoing sanctification is a day by day attitude of life where we allow the Word of God to dwell in us richly and to wash us clean with His cleansing flood.
His epistle to the Romans has been argued to contain the most thorough treatise on every aspect of our initial justification, ongoing sanctification and future glorification, together with the most comprehensive directive on the godly behaviour and personal conduct given to the Body of Christ.
Salvation in all its guises comes through Christ alone, for He was appointed by the Father of love, to fulfil God's wonderful plan of salvation through the justification, sanctification, and glorification of ALL - who simply trust in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He recognises that there are some that profess to be Christians who do not have a saving faith - but he is also aware that there are those that have a genuine saving faith but show little or no outward evidence of their justification - and so he admonishes all genuine Christians to be doers of the word and not hearers only.
Both James and Paul know that there are certain Christians who having been truly saved by grace though faith (the root of justification) who do not produce good works that are the identifying marks of a Christian, who is walking in spirit and truth (the fruit of justification).
Just as our salvation consists of justification (past) sanctification (ongoing) and glorification (future) so there are identifiable points in Satan's defeat until his sentence is taken to its final completion.
This phrase could better be written BECAUSE you have already died with Christ (a FACT which happened at our justification) - your life is his with Christ in God (a FACT - because we are identified with Him).