Wednesday night I talked to the people of the church a little bit about Justification and Sanctification. There were some questions, so I want to expound on it. I got some examples and language from the book A Sure Thing, by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
Justification is ‘God’s acceptance of unacceptable people’ Sin has made us unacceptable. But in a stunning, unbelievable act of grace, God makes us acceptable. Because of the mighty, painful, sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross, God does a kind of gracious arithmetic to solve the problem of sin. He subtracts our sin and adds the righteousness of Jesus instead. God himself makes us acceptable to him. And it is just if I’d never sinned. Justified. Justification.
But you and I know there’s still work for God to do. In one way the work is done. We are saved. But John Wesley said that Sanctification begins where Justification leaves off and they are two cords of the same rope. When we are saved, sanctification begins. God begins a work in us. And scripture says, He who has begun a good work in us will carry it out to completion. Think of it this way. Justification is like someone giving you a trumpet or a set of golf clubs. Sanctification is like the long process of learning to play well. So we are saved, and then the Holy Spirit begins to work on us and we have to allow it. Sometimes it’s joyful, sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes you get blisters practicing golf or trumpet so much (on your hands or lips, respectively). Sanctification is the lifelong process of learning to live like Jesus. And it depends on us depending on the Spirit.