"My Thoughts"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Justification vs. Sanctification

Justification vs. Sanctification OR Grace vs. Works

This is a subject that in my lay experience seems to cause much confusion and not only among Christians but along those “seeking” and those who have struggled or have been judged by others much in life.

I have seen many non-Christians or struggling Christian (such as myself) turned off by hard line beliefs of many Evangelical Christians that often miss the context of the Bible and many verses and only seem to understand Justification/Grace, but miss Sanctification and the works that pour out from Grace.

On the other side, many Christian and non Christians do not seem to understand the importance of Justification/Grace coming first.

First I will Start with What I feel is a misunderstanding by many Evangelicals and Charismatics:

I will start off with what I feel the Bible as a whole is clear on and that is we all born with a sin nature, have free will, that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the ENTIRE world, and that as true believers in heart (not head belief) this will show in our works (which may vary from hidden to easily noticed).
The last one and possible two is where many Evangelicals (at least those I have met or listened to sermons to) seem to fall short

Often many Evangelicals seem to only seem to preach from Paul’s writings/Scripture, and miss how the Book of James lays out the importance of proving Justification via works.
As well, one of my favorite verses from Luke 25 (the story of the Good Samaritan) outlines in absolute clarity in my opinion how justification of Loving the Lord God with all your mind Heart and Soul is followed by the sanctification of “Works”
See my previous post where I quote the parable of the Good Samaritan:
Standing For Truth

I recently heard an otherwise excellent Evangelical pastor state that Isaiah 64: 6
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
is proof that God thinks little of our works.
HOWEVER in reading many commentaries of this verse, not to mention noting that many non-Christian struggles with this verse in the way many Evangelicals interpret it is clear to me that this view is out of context.

The context is that of God’s people (& possibly non believers as well) who have engaged in sin and have more of a mind belief in God rather than a truly saved Justified acceptance of God’s Grace (through the finished work of Jesus) and think that their works can set them right in God’s eyes, which of coarse they cannot.
See this page webpage for the whole chapter:
Isaiah 64 (New International Version

Even in one of Paul’s Epistles; Galatians 2 (New International Version), where it is clear to me how God views us vs. how man views us I see one missing aspect of this passage in its message. In the passage Paul is condemning Peter for separating himself from the Gentiles.
What is missing from some interpretations IMO is that Peter is being in part criticized for his separation from the Gentiles for reasons of IMAGE, which goes back to the story of the Good Samaritan where many might look the other way for the sake of image.
I can say from my life experience that this has hurt me and my family considerably and this problem continues to this day in our life where image is more important than Sanctification via works, but then why would many not think this way when many have the incorrect view (IMO) of Isaiah 64?

Often judging is from looking externally by others who are very image conscience; however often trials are allowed by God (see the Book of Job however I also believe since we were not created to be “robots”, often it is simply chance as Ecclesiastes 9:11 shows:
Ecclesiastes 9:11 I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

This is where many in Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches stray in my view and again cause those of us both Christian and non-Christian to struggle

It is also noteworthy that the Book of Job states this: "he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil", which does not mean his works have saved him, but God certainly gives him credit in the same way as Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan

Where many Christians miss the importance of Justification/Grace first over Sanctification:

I heard a message from my own Pastor from Jeremiah 33:14:
'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.

15 " 'In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.

16 In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it [c] will be called:
The LORD Our Righteousness.'

He made the point of how we are all stewards of Christ’s and are to provide justice in this world.
However from my reading while I partially agree, I think these verses are more pointing to Christ’s second coming and we will all fall short due to our sin nature, furthermore I feel this view could lead some to believe that our works save us when Justification comes before Sanctification.

Again I will quote Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes 7:20 There is not a righteous man on earth
who does what is right and never sins.

I think it is important to show our love for what God/Jesus has done for us by utilizing our God given talents to help others, I just think it is important to show this should be God centered as a Justified believer first, as well justice does not only come from helping those in need, but by also standing by those being judged or treating in evil ways by authority which I am sad to say I think my own Pastor missed this point (based on actions I have seen him take as to my family that I will not mention here).

I will also add from my reading of these verses in Jeremiah and commentaries about it, as well the bible as a whole is that only Jesus will bring true justice into the world upon his final return, and although believers can certainly do their part in bringing about justice, we has imperfect humans will not always succeed.
That does not mean we should not try, but we should seek justice by seeking the Lord first (which is often missed IMO by those taking a more humanistic approach) and as well opening our eyes to the truth about others (which is often missed by those taking a more Evangelical/Baptist approach in my experience).

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