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The Goal of Justification

The message of salvation becomes distorted and confused when we are told to “clean up your act and then God will save you.”

Justification is not sanctification. However, justification always leads to sanctification. We are not saved because we are good. We are saved because we are lost sinners who are not good. Jesus declares “no condemnation,” and then He sends us out to live a holy life. No one can clean up their life and then come to Jesus. It is always the other way around. He saves us, and then the Holy Spirit does a progressive work of sanctification in us for the rest of our lives.

The law was not able to produce righteousness in people in order for them to be saved. Jesus went to the cross and accomplished that for those whom He came to save. God saved us apart from good works so that we might be able to produce good works.

The death of Jesus dealt with our penalty for sin, the power of sin was broken, and then when He comes we will be removed from the presence of sin.

The goal of justification is our sanctification. We have been set apart to God in a once for all act of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, He is also progressively, moment by moment, separating us to God. Jesus Christ has saved us so that we might live holy lives. God condemned sin in Christ, so that His righteousness might appear in us (2 Cor. 5:21). Our salvation is the work of Christ apart from any human merit. We have been saved to live for Christ. The goal of justification is that we might live this new life in Christ before a watching world. We are saved to be different.

When we focus our spiritual eyes on Christ we follow Him along His pathway, and walk according to His purposes. If we are following Him we will stay within His boundaries, and He will not lead us astray from God’s law. If we do stray we are not walking with Him. The apostle Paul wrote, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4).

Our focus is primarily on Christ, not the law. It is by walking in the Spirit that God fulfills in us the law. It takes God in us to do it.

Sanctification is always the work of the Holy Spirit. It is sad but true that even Christians cannot keep the law by themselves. What we try to do we cannot do in our own strength (Romans 7). It is not “where there is a will there is a way.” It is Christ, and only as I make myself available to Him that I fulfill God’s holy purpose for my life. It is only by the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit abiding in us that we can live a holy life. This calls for abiding in Him moment by moment. As I make myself available to Him He lives His life in and through me to bring Him glory. I am a trophy of God’s free grace.

It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can “reckon” or “count” ourselves dead and alive in Christ. It is only as we yield to the Holy Spirit that we do not let sin reign in our body and obey its evil desires. We can only offer ourselves to God and become instruments of His righteousness as we make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit.

There is no secret, and no shortcuts, to holiness or sanctified life. God has told us plainly to put our faith in what Christ has done for us on the cross and His resurrection, and to conform our behavior to what we know to be true in His Word. The indwelling Holy Spirit applies God’s Word and the truth God has done for us in Christ to enable us to live His kind of life (Romans 6:11-13). You cannot separate Romans 6:11-13 from 8:1-4.


Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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