The first time I heard the terms justification, sanctification and glorification used together to describe the fullness of salvation, I knew a foundation stone in my faith walk had been missing. After listening to years of teachers focusing on ‘being saved’ or becoming a ‘born again Christian,’ I always wondered, “then what?” When I asked pastors this question, I received the same answer, “Jesus is all we need.” With regard to being freely justified by faith, this statement is absolutely true. Jesus’ sacrificial death is the only way a sinner can be declared righteous in the sight of God.
When I asked those same pastors, ‘What do we have that is different and sets us apart from the rest of the world?” I received the same answer. “All we need is Jesus.” For some reason, that response didn’t seem to fill the ‘missing piece’ in my walk.
If sanctification was taught, it was assimilated into justification. Rather than being the next step of a believer’s walk as outlined in Scripture, sanctification fell under the ‘saved by grace’ doctrine and sinful lifestyles became ‘justified by man.’ Just because someone claims to know Jesus doesn’t suddenly change their lifestyle. Look around the Body of Christ and many still walk a defeated life filled with sin. So how do we become sanctified? What does sanctification in a believer’s life look like?
Glorification was never taught except with the rapture doctrine: “Jesus saved me and soon I will be caught up with him in the clouds and be in heaven. This can happen at any moment, so be ready.” Why should I ‘be ready’ if I only need Jesus. How should I prepare to ‘be ready?’ What happens between the the time I get ‘saved’ and am taken up into the clouds? For most believers, the time between being saved and meeting the Lord in the clouds includes the rest of our lives.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Messiah Yeshua…. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith …” (Romans 3:23, 27-28).
The word justify means ‘to show or provide adequate reason for something.’ For example, in a court of law, poor person may ‘justify’ their reason for stealing a loaf of bread; a murderer may try to ‘justify’ his reason for killing his wife. To the individual, their personal reason justifies their action.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam tried to justify his sin by blaming Eve. Eve tried to justify her being deceived by blaming the serpent. Many times believers try to justify sin by claiming certain Scriptures are ‘not for today,’ or ‘we’re not convicted of that yet,’ or worse, ‘that was for the Jews.’ Adam and Eve tried to cover their sin through fig leaves, but no one is justified by what they do or don’t do.
“God made him who had no sin to a sin offering for us …” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Elohim, the yod-hey-vav-hey, became flesh and blood in the person of Yeshua/Jesus who paid the death wage of sin for us. We are justified only by God’s grace through the sacrificial blood offering of the Lamb of God, Yeshua. Putting our faith in his blood is the only justification we have before God. There is no other way and, no other religion in world history offers freedom from the guilt of sin by faith the blood of one righteous person.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Messiah Yeshua” (Romans 5:1).
“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the Truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
According to Thessalonians, we are saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and belief in the Truth. The second step of the salvation process is through the work of God’s Spirit in our lives and how we obey the the Truth of His Word. We move from the ‘born again baby’ stage of a spiritual life and grow into maturity.
“Sanctify them by the truth; your Word is Truth” (John 17:17).
The word sanctify comes from the Greek word hagios and means ‘separation.’ The word ‘saint’ derives from ‘sanctify’. In Hebrew ‘sanctify’ is kadosh or ‘holy’ and means “to set apart for sacred use, consecrate, make holy, and purify.” Even though at the moment of ‘justification,’ we are immediately ‘set apart’ for God, sanctification is a process that takes time.
According to Yeshua, the Word of Truth sanctifies us and sets us apart from the world as God’s people or His saints. By studying the Truth, we learn what God desires us to do or not to do. As we read His Word and obey it, we become more set apart from the world or ‘holy.’ This holiness should be a comparison to Yeshua and his life walk and not a comparison to those around us. Each person is in a different place of sanctification; some walk more slowly than others. What is important is that we’re each on a sanctifying walk grounded in the Truth of God’s Word.
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Messiah Yeshua” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Through His Spirit, God sanctifies us so we are ready when Yeshua returns. We can either allow His Spirit to work out the process or not. The Parable of the Ten Virgins shows that some allow the Spirit and the Light of the Word to prepare them; others do not. The process of sanctification works throughout our entire being changing our our spirit, soul and body. As we grow and move forward in our life of sanctification, we should look less like the world and more like a child of God.
“Who [You] have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Messiah Yeshua … (1 Peter 1:2).
What does it mean to be obedient to Messiah Yeshua? How do we receive the sanctifying “work of the Spirit?”
Yeshua and the Commands
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15).
If we love Yeshua, simply, we will obey his commands. Our love for Yeshua should bring forth obedience to his commandments. According to Colossians 1:15, Yeshua is the visible image of God. This means that Yeshua is the physical evidence of our spiritual God. As such, every command written in Torah, the Prophets, the Writings and the Letters from the Apostles are for us to obey. If we choose to dismiss or make irrelevant any commands of God, the commands of Yeshua, we will not receive the Spirit of Truth about those things. Those commands that we embrace by faith and obey, the Spirit will guide us into all Truth.
This is one of the powerful truths about obeying the commands of God – His reason for the command will not be not understood until it’s obeyed. For example, it’s only after remembering to keep the Sabbath day holy (sanctified) as God created and commanded it that He sends His Spirit of Truth and the understanding of the why of the ‘day’ begins. If we choose not to obey a command of God (one we have deemed irrelevant or ‘not for us’), then Yeshua doesn’t ask his Father to send His Spirit and we do not receive the understanding for the command and we do not move forward in our sainthood.
“Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Yeshua did” (1 John 2:4-6).
Our ‘set apart’ lifestyle is proof of God’s Spirit living in us, convicting us of sin and transforming us into His saints. We can’t say we are one of God’s children and live in rationalized disobedience to Him.
“Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that the lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us” (1 John 3:24).
The best way to obey Yeshua is to live as he did. He never broke one command of his Father. In fact, he taught that those who teach others to obey the commands will be great in the Kingdom and those who teach others to break the least of the commands will be least in the Kingdom (Matthew 5:17). When we imitate him in our lives, we will not only obey the commandments, but will become set apart as he was for his Father.
What Adoption Means
An adopted child may have had a lifestyle contrary to their new family. They may not resemble the family physically or have any understanding of their new way of life. However, they have received a new name, a new home, and new parents. They must now conform to the image of the family taking on the family rules. If they love their new father and mother, they will obey the family rules and will begin to look like a member of the family. There will be peace between siblings and the parents. If they do not love their new parents, they remain a family member due to ‘adoption,’ but as they go out into the world, they will not be recognized as part of the family. If they do not honor their ‘adopted’ parents’ house rules, they will create grief and pain for the entire household.
When we are born again, we are adopted into God’s family and become as natural children. We are to look like members of His household and learn His family (Kingdom) rules so the world can see that we have a new life and lifestyle. This is the essence of sanctification and is a lifelong process.
“Look, I am coming soon. My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:12).
Yeshua promises eternal rewards for what we do in our walk of sanctification. How much did we ‘count the cost’ and walk in the ways of our Father? How much did we allow the sanctifying work of the Spirit and the Word of Truth to work in our hearts and minds? How much determines our reward from Yeshua when he returns, including being least and greatest in his Kingdom.
The Hope of Glory
“And those he predestined, he also called those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:30).
The definition of ‘glorification’ is ‘to give glory, honor, or high praise, to exalt.’ Glorification is the culmination of salvation when those who have been justified and sanctified are resurrected with a new immortal body. When that day of glory comes, we will assemble before Elohim to praise, honor and magnify Him for all eternity. This is the hope of glory; this should be each ‘saved’ believers vision for eternity and the coming Kingdom on earth.
“So all of us, with faces unveiled, see as in a mirror the glory of the Lord; and we are being changed into his very image, from one degree of glory to the next, by Adonai the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
In eternity, there will be degrees of glory based on the works of sanctification in the physical realm. There will be those who glorify Elohim in robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. They will hold palm branches and shout, “Salvation belongs to our God” (Revelation 7:9). Others will receive “fine linen, bright and clean to wear” which is evidence of the righteous acts of the sanctified ones” (Revelation 19:8). An inheritance will also be given to those who lived according to the will of God in His Word. It will be an inheritance in proportion to the glory of Messiah within each of us.
“Also in union with him we were given an inheritance, we who were picked in advance according to the purpose of the One who effects everything in keeping with the decision of his will, so that we who earlier had put our hope in the Messiah would bring him praise commensurate with his glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).
The glorification of the saints, of us, will ultimately result in the glorification of Elohim. His sovereignty through His mercy and justice will be experienced in an unparalleled way. The gathering of the glorified Body of Messiah will be an event unlike anything ever witnessed in all of eternity with Elohim’s creation. Praise and worship will be like nothing that has happened before in all of eternity past, present or future.
“On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people [saints] and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you” (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
“Furthermore, you who heard the message of the truth, the Good News offering you deliverance, and put your trust in the Messiah were sealed by him with the promised Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit], who guarantees our inheritance until we come into possession of it and thus bring him praise commensurate with his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Being freely justified by faith in blood of Messiah is an ‘amazing grace’ first step toward complete salvation. It brings us into Messiah’s Kingdom, it sets us onto a path of life for eternity. Becoming sanctified through the Spirit of God and His Truth gives us life abundantly now and sets us apart from the world as God’s children growing into maturity and Messiah’s Bride. With the return of Yeshua and his calling forth of his people, our hope of glory will be fulfilled in the eternal Kingdom. We will know the fullness of salvation and what it fully means to be saved and born again into the Kingdom of God.
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