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, and showed that where sin increased – the grace of God abounded all the more. Finally the building blocks of Paul’s reasoning led him to ask the intriguing question: What shall we say then?
“The trouble of the believer who knows Christ as his justification, is not sin as to its guilt, but sin as to its ruling power.
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 a 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.
Mystery of the Church
But in the meantime the mystery of the Church is given through Paul to us. 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. Discipleship like sanctification is a term that must be seen in its proper context so that we can understand what the Lord Jesus meant, when He challenged His followers:- “Whoever does not come after Me and carry his own cross – cannot be My disciple” “Whoever does not forsake all he has and come after me – cannot be My disciple”
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..
Often the believer will struggle hopelessly for years, What he thinks is that justification is God’s work – but sanctification is ‘mine’.
Paul was to unveil the position, privileges and the purpose of Christ’s body, the Church. 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 at this time 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.
But salvation is a like a beautiful flower that buds; blossoms and then gives fruits. It’s a single concept with differing forms: 1) justification; 2) sanctification; 3) glorification. These three sparkling gems unite into the unique gift of God’s grace – SALVATION.
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 1 gift of salvation has 3 elements – 1) justification, 2) sanctification and 3)glorification.
It is vital that believers understand the simplicity and the complexities of salvation, for a misunderstanding of salvation can cause misinterpretation of the Word of God. It is therefore essential to distinguish between these three stages of salvation.. 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.
Although we were not made righteous in a practical way – for we still have an old sin nature, this was the point we were positioned “in Christ” – and imputed with His righteousness – and from then on we had a right standing with God – JUSTIFIED. This is the point in time when we were born again – by believing in the work of Christ. 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 life-long process. Sanctification is an ongoing, life-long 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 verses 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 – etc
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 – all His foreknowledge; election; predestination sealing and adoption is of grace.
Past Present and Future
Justification was the element of salvation that freed us from the PENALTY of sin. Glorification is the element of salvation that frees us from the PRESENCE of sin. And Sanctification is the element of salvation that frees us from the POWER of sin. Justification is a past event in time – and happened when we first believed…and Glorification is a future event in time – and will be finalised at Christ’s return. Sanctification is connected with our Christian life today – it is linked to the ongoing present time – it’s related to Christian growth, our spiritual maturity and the events in our lives that God uses to conform us into the image and likeness of His dear Son.
God wants all his children to be sanctified and set apart unto Him, just as the Lord. Jesus, who learnt obedience during His life as He grew in favour with God and man. We too are to live the sanctified life as He did if we are to grow in grace and mature. Jesus Christ set Himself unto God, but He will never force His will on you or me. Although justification happens at a point in time – sanctification is a life-long process.
God desires all His children to willingly say, Thy will, not mine be done, as did the Lord Jesus – 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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
Paul particularly mentions that our 'sanctification' is the will of the Lord and it is important to know exactly what he means by 'sanctification'. 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.
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 righteousness sake will be beneficial for the sanctification and comfort of others..
However, Paul then contrasts the sin of Adam with the righteousness of Christ and 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.
He expounds the wonderful doctrines of justification by faith, our ongoing sanctification by faith and the ultimate end this mortal round on earth, which is our glorification - by faith in the Son of God, Who loved us and gave Himself for us.
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.
This verse not only refers to justification for the manifold sins of the unsaved man or woman, but the crushing weight of the post-salvation sins of the true believer, who desires to die to self and live godly in Christ Jesus.
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)..
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..
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.
Paul wrote a very important letter, not only emphasizing his God-ordained apostolic authority, but he also reiterated the vital truth of the gospel of grace, and the doctrine of justification, which he had received, directly, from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul gave an excellent defence of justification by faith in his epistle, and gave a detailed exposition of the purpose of the Law..
Salvation in all it 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 - on behalf of all who simply would trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
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.
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 a Christian's salvation is sealed the moment we are born-again, so Satan's defeat was sealed by the shed blood of Christ at the cross. Just as our salvation consists of justification (past) sanctification (ongoing) and glorification (future) so there are identifiable points in his defeat until Satan's 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).