The Word of God in speaking of the work of Christ and what it has done for us not only says, “being now justified by His blood” (Rom. 5:9 KJV), regarding Christ as the great Paschal Lamb; but it also says, “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once” (Heb. 10:10), looking at Him as the great burnt offering, the One who died to fulfill God’s will. Forgiveness, Justification And Sanctification All Christians believe that their sins are forgiven. Although equally revealed in Scripture, many, however, do not know that they are perfectly justified before a righteous God and still more have never heard that they are now perfectly sanctified by the same work that put away their sins. This ignorance would not matter so much if the words meant pretty much the same thing. But, not only are they distinct in themselves, they differ in their results.
A man may owe a large debt. If this debt is forgiven, he is free from all penalty. If another pays the debt, he is justified from it. All this, however, does not fit or entitle him to enter the mansion of his creditor on familiar terms. But the work of Christ has done all three of these things: by it we are forgiven, and thus saved from hell; by it we are justified, and can now stand before a righteous God; and by it we are sanctified, so we are fitted appropriately to enter the presence of a holy God.
A Righteous And A Holy God
“Righteousness” is spoken of in Romans, “sanctification” in Hebrews. The scene in Romans is the throne and a righteous God. In Hebrews, the focus is the sanctuary and a holy God. In Romans the point is the guilt of the sinner; while in Hebrews, his defilement. With regard to the sacrifice of Christ of which both books speak, Romans sets before us its perfection as meeting the righteous claims of God, whereas in Hebrews we get its eternal character in being offered once for all.
On these two foundations our peace rests. Christ’s work must be perfect so that we may have a standing at all before a righteous God. It must also be of eternal efficacy that this standing may never by lost.
God’s Will, Christ’s Work, The Spirit’s Witness
Justification and sanctification alike stand on a threefold basis. In Romans we are justified by the grace of God, by the blood of Christ, and by faith – the operation of the Spirit (Rom. 3:24, 5:1-9). In Hebrews we are sanctified by the will of God, the work of Christ, of which the Spirit is the witness (Heb. 10).
Righteousness and sanctification are both the combined work of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father’s will and grace gave the Son, the Son’s blood and work accomplished our redemption, and faith and the witness of the Spirit cause us to accept this work – without which all were in vain.
God’s Righteousness, Not Mine
True righteousness is divine, not human. The righteousness of works had already been sought in vain for 4,000 years (Rom. 1-3). Both the Jews who had the law and the Gentiles who were a law unto themselves failed, and the judgment is summed up in these words: “Therefore by the deeds of the law [by works of any kind] there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20). Now a new righteousness apart from every kind of law is manifested, a righteousness not of man but of God!
It is most important to be clear on this: Righteousness comes to me through Christ’s death and resurrection, not through His spotless life. Indeed, it is only in dying that He takes up my cause as my Substitute. It is here I am first connected with Him. So truly is this the case that through all the epistles we hardly hear of the life of Christ before the cross at all. The only two passages that really speak of it are Philippians 2:7-8 and 2 Peter 1:16-18. In neither of these portions is there any question of Christ as our substitute, but it is Christ as our example!
God Is Just And Justifies The Sinner
Righteousness is twofold in Romans 3. God’s forbearance and grace had been shown in the passing over of the sins of Old Testament saints in spite of His own words that the soul that sins shall die. But His righteousness had not been manifested (3:25). He now shows the righteousness of His own character by the cross of Christ, both in His past forbearance and in now freely justifying the believing sinner. This last act is said to be the righteousness of God upon all them that believe. Hence, we get two things: first, that God Himself is just, and secondly, that He is the Justifier of him that believes (3:26). The finished work of Christ on the sinner’s behalf, accepted by God as seen in His raising Him from the dead, has set God free to show His grace in righteousness. Mercy and truth, and righteousness and peace, have thus met together at the cross for the first time (5:1), and God no longer forbears with the believing sinner, but justifies him freely by His grace (3:24).
Seven Eternal Realities
In turning now to Hebrews 9 and 10, one thing that strikes us is the words “eternal” and “for ever.” We find that Christ’s offering was once forever, and that therefore He is seated forever; hence we have eternal redemption, and are perfected forever (9:12; 10:10,12,14). We also read that there will be no more offering on Christ’s part, no more remembrance of sins on God’s part, and hence no more conscience of sins on our part (10:2,17-18). On these seven eternal realities our faith rests. Now the sanctification spoken of here, like the righteousness in Romans 3-5, is perfect and complete, absolutely independent of our state so that even the Corinthians who were in anything but a holy state, could be addressed as “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” Let us glory in our perfect justification and holiness in Him who of God is “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).
The perfection of Christ’s work enables every believer to rejoice in the absolute certainty of entering that very glory from which he was hopelessly excluded by nature. Even the worshiper, who in Old Testament times was rigorously excluded from God’s presence is now made, by the infinite value of the work of Christ, so holy that he is able to come right into the holiest of all, standing in Christ without a spot.
Let us then glory in the work of Christ. Nay more, let us boast in Christ Himself through whom we are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Let us never harbor even for a moment a wretched unbelieving thought of His perfect work. Never, never allow a doubt to arise regarding your salvation in which you have had no part procuring, but which from first to last is the perfect work of the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
By Alfred T. Schofield (adapted)
|The work of Christ has done all three of these things:
• We are forgiven … thus saved from hell.
• We are justified … can now stand before a righteous God.
• We are sanctified … to enter the presence of a holy God.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org