What does it mean to be justified, sanctified and what is its relationship to the law?
There are three stages for a Christian. Justification, sanctification and glorification. These are theological terms describing the believers position, activity and changes we go through as believers in Jesus Christ. We are justified by believing in Christ (in the gospel) but we are still being sanctified we reach the third and last stage- which is glorification, where we become transformed to be permanently sinless and immortal. These are promises that accompany the new covenant that begin and end our walk on earth. Rom 8:30 “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
Justification begins our sanctification. We are both Justified (a one time event) and sanctification begins with our justification, it is a process that conforms us to Christ’s likeness (moral likeness). Justification is a legal declaration of a sinner being righteous, it does not make us righteous. Someone who is a Christian for 10 years is no more justified than when the first became a believer. It is through the process of our dying to self and being obedient to the word and the Spirit (Jn.17:19; Rom. 15:16) we are daily changed, in God’s eyes we are completed and accepted because of our faith in Jesus’ work on the cross.
Justification is a pronouncement to clear the guilty. When one is justified, he is declared right before the Lord; he is pardoned and cleared of any violation. “there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Rom.8)
Rom 3:24-25 “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.”
Rom 5:1: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
Rom 5:9: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
Our justification is by faith in the work of the Son of God on the cross, his shed blood and death for forgiveness of our sins.
Sanctification-is a continual process that conforms us into the image of the Son of God (1 Cor. 6:11 it first begins, with our justification Romans 8:29). Col. 3:10: “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”
1 Cor. 1:2: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours”
Heb. 10:10: “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
II Thess. 2:13: “because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”1 Peter 1:2 “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ”
Glorification- The completion of our Christian life on earth, at the end of the sanctification process and occurs when we get to Heaven, either by means of death, rapture, or resurrection. We are in an eternal state, permanently righteous in our nature. 1 Cor. 15:49: “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
Phil. 3:21 “who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body”
Phil. 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
The completion is to be glorified, which is the end result of our salvation- it is future glory of the believer.
We still have to be united with our body to be glorified.
Rom 8:17-19 and if children, then heirs-- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”
A person is saved and justified, forgiven, sanctified and purified and regenerated, sealed with and indwelt by the Holy Spirit the moment he believes on Christ. Jesus Himself said, “He that believeth on Me HAS everlasting life” (John 6:47). When a person confesses that Jesus is Lord (YHWH) and believes in his heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, that person is SAVED (Romans 10:9).
Justification is connected to God’s grace that comes through the gospel by an unconditional covenant. In contrast, the law is connected to man's works, which is a conditional covenant. The law said what I must do to be righteous. The problem is that no one can keep the law perfectly (which is the law's requirement); therefore whether one does not try to keep it or does try to keep it, they are both guilty because they both fall short. Rom. 3:19-20: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
If we still need anything from the law to complete salvation, then Christ is not the Savior: His work is not sufficient. Paul writes in Galatians 2:21b: “for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Gal. 3:19-25 states that the law points out our guilt and was a teacher to bring us to the Savior: once faith came we are no longer under the law; faith replaces it. All the commandments are kept by the power of the Spirit, and it is by our faith that the law is established.
As far as the relationship to the law, there is none. Justification is by faith alone. Gal 2:16"knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
Paul makes it clear how he received cleansing… Acts 26:18: “that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” He makes it clear it is not from keeping any law or commands but through faith in Jesus Christ. And faith is not a one time event but a continual action of believing.
The law had a purpose:
Gal 3:24 “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
Acts 13:38-39: "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
Acts 13:39 "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Rom. 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”
Cults will either combine sanctification with justification or say that we have neither now, that both are future tense, like glorification. The Bible does not teach us to work for our salvation but do works because you have received salvation. Confusing sanctification with justification affects how one lives one's Christian life. When sanctification and justification are confused, it keeps someone from building on the sure foundation correctly. Christ is the sure foundation and there is no other, we must build on His finished work, or else our works are not found in Christ. If one combines the sanctification process of being conformed to Christ with the once-for-all declaration of justification, it means that one always has to show works to prove that God approves of him. Eventually the standard gets tougher, and one is forced to do more. There is no rest in Christ when these are combined.