Picture a courtroom. You are the defendant, guilty of a crime you can't deny. You can almost hear the judge's gavel falling, signaling your doom. But then, a surprise twist: your lawyer, whom you've never met before, steps in and takes your place. He accepts the verdict, the punishment, everything. He pays your fine out of his own pocket and you are declared innocent, justified, by the judge. You are free to go.
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1)
The moment you believe in Jesus Christ, you are justified and declared righteous by God. Jesus, your cosmic lawyer, stepped in, took your place, paid the fine, and made you free. The sins you were once guilty of are now washed clean by the blood of Christ. Your justified status is instant and remains forever. This courtroom verdict changes your eternal standing before God, from guilty to justified.
Now let’s go back to that imaginary courtroom. How might you respond to that lawyer, a stranger who paid your penalty? You strike up a conversation and find that your law savior is a fantastic counselor. You pour your heart out to him, explaining that you want to change—you want to leave your life of crime behind, but you need help. He offers to give you the help you need. The daily help is a process called sanctification.
"It is God's will that you should be sanctified…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
The moment of justification is the beginning of a journey of change toward holiness. You can either embrace it and chase the change, or you can resist it. Jesus wants you to do the first, not the second. Like a loving lawyer who gives his client lifestyle advice for daily living, Jesus leads us toward the change we need. Whether we succeed or fail our salvation is secure, but sanctification will require the tenacity of a committed disciple.
Sanctification is your growth in holiness, your journey in learning to live righteously. It involves rejecting sin, adopting God's standards, and living in a way that honors Him. While we are declared righteous in justification, we should seek growth toward righteousness in sanctification. It's an ongoing process that continues throughout our lives.
How does the courtroom analogy clarify the concepts of justification and sanctification for you?
Can you identify moments or decisions that have been pivotal in your sanctification journey?
What steps will you take to continue your growth in sanctification?