Justification and Sanctification

Justification and Sanctification

Justification and Sanctification

What is the difference between justification and sanctification? Justification is immediate, but is sanctification immediate or is it a process? Is sanctification an immediate work of God based upon our surrender? Or is it a process that takes place over a lifetime that involves our continual surrender and battle against sin?

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” Romans 5:1

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:28

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:16

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24

The Greek word for justified is dikaioo and it means “to render just or innocent.” In Romans 3:28 and Galatians 2:16 and 3:24 we see that the apostle Paul is clearly separating faith and works. We cannot ever be justified by the works of the law. It is through the law that comes the knowledge of sin, and we are all held guilty before God because we have all sinned. Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him for righteousness. The very meaning of the Greek word and the example we have with Abraham shows us that justification is an immediate act of God in our lives. Through faith, which is a gift of God and not of works, we are declared to be just. Justification is not a process whereby we achieve salvation by the end of our lives. We see that the effect of justification is immediate as Romans 5:1 states, “we have peace with God.” Through faith alone we are justified and not by works. Once we put our faith in Jesus Christ then we are justified and have immediate peace with God. It is through the finished work of Jesus Christ that we receive salvation by faith. Our works add nothing to it. Romans 1:17 tells us “the just shall live by faith.” Receiving eternal life is based upon faith only apart from works. As Paul wrote to the Galatians in chapter 2 verse 21, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Works cannot save us, only Christ can do that. We deserve death because of sin, therefore, Jesus Christ took our sins upon Himself and died in our place. The work is finished; the bill has been paid. We cannot do anything to improve the work of Christ. We are saved once and for all by the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

I want you to notice that this is directly connected to the new birth experience. As Paul writes in Ephesians 1:13 and is spoken of in Acts 19:2, we receive the Holy Spirit after we believe. Yet, even receiving the Holy Spirit comes from the hearing of faith. It is not by works or by something we achieve but by faith.

“This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Galatians 3:2

So then is sanctification also an immediate work based upon the work of Christ at Calvary? This question is much more complicated biblically. If you look into history you can find various standpoints on this. We should go to the Scriptures and search to find out the various nuances to sanctification.

John Wesley was the sixth church age messenger and is credited for restoring the truth of sanctification back to the church. Wesley taught that sanctification was an immediate work of grace and received by faith, but that a believer is to “go on unto perfection” and experience what is called “entire sanctification.” I will bring you several quotes from the works of Wesley.

“I have continually testified in private and in public, that we are sanctified as well as justified by faith. And indeed the one of those great truths does exceedingly illustrate the other. Exactly as we are justified by faith, so are we sanctified by faith. Faith is the condition, and the only condition, of sanctification, exactly as it is of justification. It is the condition: None is sanctified but he that believes; without faith no man is sanctified. And it is the only condition: This alone is sufficient for sanctification. Every one that believes is sanctified, whatever else he has or has not. In other words, no man is sanctified till he believes: Every man when he believes is sanctified.” [1]

The Scriptures also bear record of this truth, but there are more layers to this reality then one might think as we continue to examine sanctification. As we read from the following quotes from Wesley we can see that sanctification itself is accomplished along with our faith.

“It is thus that we wait for entire sanctification; for a full salvation from all our sins, from pride, self-will, anger, unbelief; or, as the Apostle expresses it, “go on unto perfection.” But what is perfection? The word has various senses: Here it means perfect love. It is love excluding sin; love filling the heart, taking up the whole capacity of the soul. It is love “rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, in every thing giving thanks.”” [2]

“Well, but what more than this can be implied in entire sanctification?” It does not imply any new kind of holiness: Let no man imagine this. From the moment we are justified, till we give up our spirits to God, love is the fulfilling of the law; of the whole evangelical law, which took place of the Adamic law, when the first promise of “the seed of the woman” was made. Love is the sum of Christian sanctification; it is the one kind of holiness, which is found, only in various degrees, in the believers who are distinguished by St. John into “little children, young men, and fathers.” The difference between one and the other properly lies in the degree of love. And herein there is as great a difference in the spiritual, as in the natural sense, between fathers, young men, and babes.” [3]

“Entire sanctification, or Christian perfection, is neither more nor less than pure love; love expelling sin, and governing both the heart and life of a child of God. The Refiner’s fire purges out all that is contrary to love, and that many times by a pleasing smart. Leave all this to Him that does all things well, and that loves you better than you do yourself.” [4]

“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18

It is through faith that we are sanctified. The word sanctify in the Greek is hagiazo and it means “to make holy, purify, to consecrate.” We are sanctified by faith, not by works.

“That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:16

“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” 2 Thessalonians 2:13

The tense of the word sanctified in the Greek speaks of “having been sanctified.” This is a past tense work of God. The Holy Ghost coming upon us at the new birth sets us apart unto God for sacred purposes.

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:10

The tense of the word sanctification is a completed tense. The Wuest translation says, “He takes away the first in order that He may establish the second, by means of which will we stand permanently set apart for God and His service through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” It is through the blood of Christ we are sanctified permanently and it is by faith. This sanctification is then applied in our lives by the Holy Ghost. We can see then that sanctification comes to the believer by faith and is based upon the finished work of Christ and becomes applied to us personally via the Holy Ghost baptism.

These verses show us clearly that sanctification takes place positionally upon our salvation. We have been set apart by God, and He has made us holy. Romans 6:11 tells us that we are then “dead indeed unto to sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We are then no longer under the dominion of sin. We are delivered from it by grace.

However, sanctification is also an ongoing process and a process that we are involved in. The Scriptures are clear about wrestling against the works of the devil in Ephesians 6, “striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:4), and “going on unto perfection” (Hebrews 6:1).

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

“and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Colossians 3:10

In the ongoing process of sanctification our wills are involved in the work of the Spirit. We have to submit, surrender, fight, kill the flesh, etc.

“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.” Romans 8:13

We have to put to death the deeds of the body, but we do so through the Spirit. We are sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and it is through the work of the Holy Ghost within us that has already freed us from the dominion of sin, that we put to death the works of the flesh.

“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14 ESV

We are made complete by the blood of Christ and this is evidenced in our lives by the fact that we are going through the process of sanctification. We are “being sanctified” in this verse in Hebrews. It is an ongoing process.

Now, this is the point that John Wesley’s doctrine becomes very distinctive. Most bible teachers say that entire sanctification only takes place upon death or during the body change at the rapture. Let’s read what Wesley taught. This is from a book summarizing is teachings,

“Entire sanctification is a state of perfect love, righteousness and true holiness which every regenerate believer may obtain by being delivered from the power of sin, by loving God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength, and by loving one’s neighbor as one’s self. Through faith in Jesus Christ this gracious gift may be received in this life both gradually and instantaneously, and should be sought earnestly by every child of God.”

I know and believe that Wesley was the messenger to the Philadelphian Church Age, and Brother Branham told us that the true understanding of sanctification was restored to the church through Wesley. This entire sanctification that Wesley taught came from the following Scriptures.

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,” Hebrews 6:1

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23

Here we see the apostle Paul writing to believers in Hebrews 6:1 that they should leave the state of immaturity and go on unto perfection. Then he writes to the Thessalonians a prayer for God to sanctify them “wholly.” The word “wholly” in Greek is “holoteles” and it means “complete to the end.” Here we see the idea of complete sanctification. The word is used again but it carries a little different meaning, “your whole spirit and soul and body.” Your entire spirit and soul and body are to be preserved blameless.

3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:3-4

Wesley did not teach that a believer would become sinless, but that they could become free from lawlessness. The word for sin in the above verse is anomia. The other word for sin is hamartia, “to miss the mark.” We all miss the mark, but we can be delivered from the practice of committing lawlessness, that is, open rebellion against the known will of God. Entire sanctification speaks of a change of the disposition of the heart that causes a believer to choose to not willfully sin. Wesley connected this with perfection. By this he meant a maturity in his Christian walk where he did not willfully choose sin. Even after that, a believer would gradually grow in sanctification. This is called a second work of grace.

We find many places that brother Branham speaks of the three works of grace. He emphasizes that a person can be justified without being sanctified, and sanctified without receiving the Holy Ghost. Then later he begins to show how people can be anointed with the Holy Spirit on their human spirit but not in their soul. Prior to the opening of the seals brother Branham taught the distinction between the new birth and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. We find that after that time he taught that they are one in the same act, that we are born again BY the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Then we are to add word on top of word, growing in our faith and being transformed by the renewing of our mind. It is the baptism of the Holy Ghost that places us in the body of Christ. Let’s look back at 1 Thessalonians 5:23 which Wesley uses to show entire sanctification as well as in Hebrews 6:1, “going on unto perfection.” Both of these verses are applicable to the end time. Paul writes, may God sanctify you wholly and preserve your entire spirit, soul and body. What other time in history could we find God preserving our body unto the coming of the Lord?

I cannot find anywhere after the seals that brother Branham spoke clearly about the true experience of God being first in becoming justified, secondly having a second experience of entire sanctification and lastly, going on to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The transforming power lay within receiving the Holy Ghost and we receive that after we believe. A person with the nature change behaves and acts with the nature of God. This experience of “perfection” that Wesley emphasized was a partial realization of an end time truth. The true church at the end time experiences a growth to perfection in preparation for the rapture. Throughout the church ages they had a partial realization of the Word, but at the end time when the true faith is restored back to the church, we have a perfect realization. Sanctification is a work of the Holy Ghost which comes by faith and is a gradual process throughout the lifetime of the believer. It is a transformation from glory to glory as our minds are renewed. Yet at the end time there is a perfection that the church is to grow into. In Ephesians 4 the church is to advance “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” In Hebrews 6:1 we are called to “go on unto perfection.” In Philippians 3:14 it is called pressing “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” In the Stature of a Perfect Man brother Branham tells us, “this Church has got to come to perfection, in order to bring the resurrection.” We grow into this stature by adding to our faith, virtue, etc. A growth into perfection by process. I will close with two quotes from brother Branham.

”We’re coming now to the perfection, because the people has to come to this in order for the Rapture. That’s what’s holding it away right now, is waiting for that Church to come into that Perfect Raptured Faith. Looking for it. It means a lot of shaving down for me, it means a lot for you, but together we’ll make it by the grace of God.” [5]

“It’s a perfect place calling you to that perfection, and you have to be perfect to get there. The Bible said so. Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” It’s a perfect Kingdom, so it must be a perfect people come. Because, you have to stand and be married to a perfect Son of God, and you must be a perfect Bride. So how can you do it through anything else but the perfect Word of God, which is, “The Waters of separation, that washes us from our sins”? Amen. That’s right. The Blood of Jesus Christ, think of It, the dripping, Bloody Word. Amen. The Blood, the—the Word of God bleeding Blood, to wash the Bride in. Amen. Yes, sir. She stands perfect, virgin, unadulterated. She never sinned, in the first place. Amen. She was trapped into it. See?” [6]

[1] Sermon 43, John Wesley

[2] Sermon 43, The Scripture Way of Salvation

[3] Sermon 83, On Patience

[4] Letters to Mr. Walter Churchey, of Brecon

[5] 63-0825E, Perfect Faith, Rev. William Marrion Branham

[6] 65-1205, Things That Are To Be, Rev. William Marrion Branham