A Brief Primer on Justification
by Jules Grisham
When someone sets their faith in Jesus, God justifies them (declares them totally innocent, perfectly righteous in his sight, only for the sake of Christ, “just-as-if-I’d” never been guilty or unrighteous.
Justification entails a complete and instant change in status, but no change in nature.
Sanctification entails a progressive change in nature.
Justification is declarative, forensic; it is an act of God, imputed to us all at once.
Sanctification is transformative, renovative; it is a work of God, imparted to us over time.
Everyone who believes in Jesus has been justified, by God’s gracious declaration, on the basis of what Jesus has done for them, as received by the instrumentality of faith.
Everyone who believes in Jesus is being progressively sanctified, though never perfectly in this life, by the operation of the Spirit working in and through us, applying Christ to us, making us more and more conformed to the image of Christ, who is the perfect and exact image of God.
Imagine a circle to represent each believer. The outer line around the circle is like a membrane of imputed righteousness which totally covers us (having been justified), even as the life within continues to develop and grow (being sanctified).
Christian life is a process and a progress by which we become more and more conformed in nature to what we were declared to be all at once in status. And only when we enter at last into the presence of God will our sanctification be complete, and be perfectly righteous, perfectly conformed, inside and out, to the image of Christ (i.e., glorified). Amen!
Justification entails a DOUBLE TRANSACTION:
Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us;
Our sin is imputed to him.
2 Corinthians 5:21:
He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become, in him, the righteousness of God.
Justification entails a DOUBLE IMPUTATION:
Christ’s “passive” obedience (his death) is imputed to our account (so that our sins are forgiven);
Christ’s “active” obedience (his life) is imputed to our account (so that we are deemed righteous).
He was delivered over to death for our sins, and was raised to life for our justification.