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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Christian Beliefs DVD Course by Dr. Wayne Grudem | Main | Operative Principle in the Covenant of Works and Grace »

    Justification and Sanctification

    We can make a distinction between the body and the head of a man and he suffers no loss, but if there is a separation, the man will be dead. The head and the body must stay together for life to continue. Similarly, though we can make a distinction between justification and sanctification, we must never separate the two.

    JUSTIFICATION
    Justification is a legal court room term defined as the act of God when He declares a person just or righteous in His sight. This takes place the moment a sinner places their trust in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. For the sinner who has faith in Jesus, God pronounces the sentence “I find you not guilty! I reckon (I count, I declare) you righteous in My sight, and you and I are forever at peace with each other. All of your sins were transferred to your sin bearing Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ, who took the full brunt of My holy wrath for them, and what has been transferred to your account is the righteousness of My Son, who lived not only a sinless life, but a life fully pleasing to Me. This very real righteousness is yours now and forever.”

    Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Christian is a justified person. God has declared him right in His sight because of Christ.

    What is amazing to us (and what is at the heart of the gospel message) is that God does not wait until we are inherently righteous before He declares us righteous. He justifies “the ungodly.” Romans 4:5 says, “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”

    How can God do this without compromising His holiness and justice? He does this because the very real righteousness of Christ has been given as a gift to the one who believes in Him. Christ’s righteousness is a real righteousness and “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21). Christ is our righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30).

    What about sanctification then? Justification happens in an instant – the moment a sinner places faith in the Savior. Sanctification is the process of becoming more and more holy and separated to God in daily life.

    SANCTIFICATION
    In the Old Testament, vessels used for the house of God (the Tabernacle or the Temple) were “sanctified” and set apart for that purpose, never to be used for more mundane purposes. In one sense, the Christian is already sanctified in that he is set apart to God (1 Cor 6:11). Yet there is another dimension of sanctification for although set apart to God, there is still much work to do because in all actuality, no Christian on earth is entirely sanctified. The battle between the flesh and spirit is a life long battle. The flesh still wants its independence, and in contrast, the spirit wishes to live in absolute dependence upon God. Sanctification is an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian.

    Having made the distinction between justification and sanctification, let me affirm straight away that these two cannot be separated. That is because the truly justified person will be involved in this process of sanctification. If someone claims to be justified, but there is no desire to be sanctified, the claim to justification is proven to be fraudulent. The justified man possesses the Holy Spirit and He sets about the task of sanctification the moment He comes in to the human heart. He desires holiness, and He stirs up that desire in the heart of the true Christian. The Christian still sins, but there is now a struggle against sin, whereas before there was no struggle at all. The fact that you wish to be free from sin is an indication that the Holy Spirit is at work in the heart. When a person is happy to stay in a lifestyle that knowingly displeases the Master, it raises huge red warning flags to indicate that we need to analyze any claim to true justification.

    Martin Luther gave the following analogy: When we are justified, it is as though a doctor has just administered a sure and certain remedy for a fatal disease. Though the patient may still endure a temporary struggle with the residual effects of his illness, the outcome is no longer in doubt. The physician pronounces the patient cured even though a rehabilitation process must still be carried out.

    So it is with our justification. In Christ, God pronounces us just by the imputation of the merits of His Son. Along with that declaration, God administers something to us; He gives us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit begins immediately to work within us to bring us to holy living.

    John Piper said it this way, "Justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone does not lead to more sinning. On the contrary, it is the only sure and hopeful base of operations from which the fight against sin can be launched. All the bombers that go out to drop bombs on the strongholds of sin remaining in our lives take off from the runway of justification by faith alone. The missiles that we shoot against the incoming attack of temptation are launched from the base of justification by faith alone. The whole lifelong triumphant offensive called "operation sanctification" – by which we wage war against all the remaining corruption in our lives – is sustained by the supply line of the Spirit that comes from the secure, unassailable home-base of justification by faith alone. And it will be a successful operation – but only because of the unassailable home base."

    Posted by John Samson on August 18, 2010 11:14 AM

    Comments

    This is a great way to remember the two seperately, yet connected. Providence led me to this clip today, as I sit and type out a review of Romans. Blessings...

    >>>...What is amazing to us (and what is at the heart of the gospel message) is that God does not wait until we are inherently righteous before He declares us righteous...

    Actually, this is not at all what Paul says. What justification refers to is the forgiveness of sins from which one turns away. God does not consider someone who is currently wicked as if they were righteous. He forgives the sins of the penitent.

    >>>He justifies “the ungodly.” Romans 4:5 says, “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”

    Paul's reference is specifically to the religious activities of the Jewish covenant terms ("the law of Moses"). For the specific, explicit assertion that Abraham was justified by his other actions, just look at James:

    James 2:
    21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
    22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
    24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    Paul is on board with that:

    Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

    Thus, God is not mocked.

    William,

    Paul is outlining the universal sin of the human race ("both Jews and Gentiles are under sin" - Romans 3:9) and showing that both are justified in the same exact way - all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and are justified freely as a gift through faith (apart from works). That's the message of Romans 3 and the conclusion to his argument is outlined in chapter 3:28. To show that this teaching was not in fact new he then presents (in Romans 4) Abraham as an example - he believed God (before ever producing any works or being circumcised) and God credited righteousness to him. Abraham is used then to illustrate the point of the previous chapter (Romans 3) that a man is justified by faith apart from works. Jews and Gentiles are all under sin and Jews and Gentiles are justified in the exact same way - that's the message.

    Of course God forgives the sins of those who repent and believe but the point of Romans 4: 1-8 is that works pay no part whatsoever in justification and that while still a sinner in and of themselves and while still ungodly and bringing forth no works, God justifies those who believe (apart from works) because righteousness is imputed to them - it is not inherent within them, but imputed to them.

    James is dealing with a different question to Paul - Paul is dealing with the question of how a man is justified before God and his clear answer is through faith apart from works. James is dealing with what kind of faith justifies, (what does it look like) and his answer is only a faith that produces works justifies or else it is only a dead faith - and a dead faith can never justify anyone. If the faith remains alone (in that sense) and produces no works, it is not true genuine saving faith. True faith will be demonstrated by works. Much more could be said and this article is helpful here to explain further the context of the two passages: http://www.reformationstudycenter.com/PaulandJames.html

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