We are saved, we are being saved and we will be saved, three phrases in the Bible and in Christian circles that causes confusion and wrong doctrine all because of a few words that have been misused and misinterpreted over the years. There are three main points of salvation. There is an entry point, the middle point and then the end point.
Justification We are saved from the PENALTY of Sin.
Sanctification We are being saved from the Power of Sin
Glorification We will be saved from the presence of Sin
He HAS saved us (Justification) – Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
He IS saving us (sanctification) – 2 Corinthians 4:16(ESV) 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
He WILL save us (glorification) – 1 Peter 1:5(ESV) 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
He HAS cleansed us – 1 Corinthians. 6:11(ESV) 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
He IS cleansing us – 1 John 1:7(ESV) 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
He WILL utterly cleanse us – Ephesians 5:25-27(ESV)25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
He HAS kept us – Galatians 3:23(ESV) 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.
He IS keeping us – 1 Corinthians 1:8(NLT)He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.
He WILL keep us – John 6:39(ESV) 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
Justification begins our sanctification. We are both Justified (a one time event) and in the process of being sanctified(on going). Sanctification begins with our justification, it is a process that conforms us to Christ’s likeness. Justification is a legal declaration of a sinner being righteous before the Father, it does not make us self-righteous.
Romans 8:29(HCSB) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
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 we are daily changed, in God’s eyes we are completed and accepted because of our faith in Jesus’ work on the cross.
John 17:15-19(ESV)15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
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. “Romans 8:1(NLT)So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” To have “no condemnation” declared means to be found innocent of the accusation, to have no sentence inflicted and no guilty verdict found. By the grace of God, believers in Jesus Christ will not face the condemnation of God.
Many believers fall into deep condemnation whenever they sin. They read scriptures in the Bible which say that we should be faultless and blameless and they interpret that to mean that they should be sinless. And since they are not sinless, they fall into condemnation. We will look at some scriptures which encourage believers to be blameless, and we will see that this does not mean the same thing as being sinless. We are never called to be sinless.
1 John 1:5-10(ESV)5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Ideally we should not sin, but avoiding sin is not to be the focus of our Christian walk. We are called to be blameless – living above reproach and not creating stumbling blocks that turn others away from Christ. I am not downplaying the horror of our sin, but we must understand that holiness is not merely the absence of sin, but having the nature of God. There is a subtle difference in perspective that makes the difference between living a victorious life in Christ and living a life of bondage to the law.
An ancient heresy is that there are two types of Christians, carnal and Spirit-filled, and in between those is the heresy of perfectionism. Perfectionism teaches that there is a class of Christians who achieve moral perfection in this life. To be sure, credit is given to the Holy Spirit as the agent who brings total victory over sin to the Christian. But there is a kind of elitism in perfectionism, a feeling that those who have achieved perfection are somehow greater than other Christians. The “perfect” ones do not officially—take credit for their state, but smugness and pride have a way of creeping in.
To believe that we are sinless we must annul the standards of God’s Law. We must reduce the level of divine righteousness to the level of our own performance. We must lie to ourselves both about the Law of God and about our own obedience. To do that requires that we quench the Spirit when He seeks to convict us of sin. Persons who do that are not so much Spirit-filled as they are Spirit-quenchers.
People try to heal the symptoms rather than treating the actual issue. We teach you sin management instead of holy living.
Jeremiah 6:14(ESV)They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.
We mostly want a hurt free life. Look at society today everyone is easily offended. Pain is supposed to hurt, pain let’s you know something is wrong. painpill addiction is at an all time high, antidepressants are the most prescribed drug in the USA, why? Because we are a bunch of wusses who cannot stand to be wrong and have friends who will Judge us. That’s why people change friends and join big churches, because the chances of being hurt or “found” out in a big church are slim.
Proverbs 27:17(ESV)Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
When one man and another man “sharpens” one another sparks will fly.
When conflict happens it is supposed to be part of a process called sanctification. Being able to learn from an experience and grow shows a sign of maturity.
One of the true marks of our ongoing sanctification is the growing awareness of how far short we fall of reaching perfection. Perfectionism is really antiperfectionism in disguise. If we think we are becoming perfect, then we are far from becoming perfect.
Ephesians 4:13(ESV)13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, This says that the spiritual gifts are given to build up the body of Christ “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Some translations say that we will become “perfect” (instead of “mature”), and from this some people have mistakenly thought that we can reach sinless perfection in this life. The word translated “mature” in Ephesians 4:13 is the Greek word teleios (tel’-i-os). It is used throughout the New Testament to mean “perfect,” “complete,” “full-grown,” and “mature.” What Ephesians 4:13 teaches is that, the more we grow in Christ, the stronger and more unified we will be as a church. The verse does not teach that we will stop sinning. The Bible teaches that, while we are in the flesh, we will always struggle with a sin nature.
Romans 7:14–24(ESV)14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? No one will be “perfect” (sinless) until we reach heaven.
Another couple of passages that people sometimes get confused about is
Colossians 1:28(ESV)28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ., which says, in some translations, that Paul wants to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Also, in Colossians 4:12(ESV)12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. Paul prays that we would “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” In both verses, the Greek word for perfect should be understand to mean “mature” or “full-grown,” not “having no sin.” This is the importance of reading a couple of different translations or knowing some greek and hebrew or how to look up some words.
As human beings we are bound under Adam’s nature in this world. No matter how hard we try not to, we will still sin against God. This holds true for everyone. The apostle Paul rebuked Peter for showing favoritism Galatians 2:11–13(ESV)11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.. Late in his ministry, Paul calls himself the chief of sinners. 1 Timothy 1:15(ESV)15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. Peter, James, John, and Paul all admitted that they were imperfect. How could you or I claim anything different?
Sanctification requires a lifetime to complete. As we grow in grace, we are gradually – but steadily – changing to be more like Jesus.
2 Corinthians 3:18(ESV)18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. This occurs in a process of daily spiritual renewal Colossians 3:10(ESV)9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. The apostle Paul himself was being sanctified even as he ministered to others. Paul claimed that he had not reached perfection, but that he “pressed on” to attain everything Christ desired for him Philippians 3:12-16(ESV)12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
God’s work in sanctification involves all three members of the Trinity. God the Father is constantly at work in His children “to will and to work for His good pleasure”. Philippians 2:12-13(ESV)12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
He changes our desires, making us want to please Him, and He empowers us to do so. Jesus earned our sanctification on the cross and, in essence, has become our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30(ESV)30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,) and the “perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). The Holy Spirit is the primary agent of our sanctification (1 Corinthians 6:11(ESV)11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.;
2 Thessalonians 2:13(ESV)13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits[a] to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
1 Peter 1:2(ESV)2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:May grace and peace be multiplied to you., and He is the one who produces in us the fruit of sanctification. Galatians 5:22-23(ESV)22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Our role in sanctification is both passive and active. Passively, we are to trust God to sanctify us, presenting our bodies to God (Romans 6:13; 12:1) and yielding to the Holy Spirit. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3), and God will have His way
Actively, we are responsible to choose to do what is right. 1 Thessalonians 4:4(ESV)4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, This involves putting to death the “misdeeds of the body” (Romans 8:13), striving for holiness (Hebrews 12:14), fleeing immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), cleansing ourselves from every defilement (2 Corinthians 7:1), and making every effort to supplement our faith (2 Peter 1:5-11).
Both the passive role and the active role are necessary for a healthy Christian life. To emphasize the passive role tends to lead to spiritual laziness and a neglect of spiritual discipline. The end result of this course of action is a lack of maturity. To emphasize the active role can lead to legalism, pride, and self-righteousness. The end result of this is a joyless Christian life. We must remember that we pursue holiness, but only as God empowers us to do so. The end result is a consistent, mature Christian life that faithfully reflects the nature of our holy God.
John makes it clear that we will never be totally free from sin in this life (1 John 1:8-10). Thankfully, the work God has begun in us He will finish.
Philippians 1:6(ESV)6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
“Indeed, the more sanctified the person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God. The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater the intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will he be of the gravity of the sin that remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it….Was this not the effect in all the people of God as they came into closer proximity to the revelation of God’s holiness.” -John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied