Sanctification and justification are not just church words that are used by those who have advanced training or degrees in theological studies, but are important concepts that every believer should grasp, understanding fully the work accomplished on the cross and the progress that every Christian is expected to accomplish. These words which hold so much depth are significant of comprehending and therefore fully appreciating what being a follower of Christ truly means. While the God of the universe has provided a way to bring man back into a relationship with himself, He also has placed a significant amount of responsibility upon man to reach for the holiness that the Lord offers. Because man was made in the image of God, it is the responsibility of each to work towards becoming a reflection of God's character.
God is always true to His Word and character. Once He has spoken, His Words are eternal and forever significant. When the Lord pronounced that the judgement for sin would be death, this would be an everlasting, eternal judgement. When sin entered into the world through Adam, the judgement took effect and man eternally separated himself from God. But, God is not only just. God is also merciful. To justify mankind, God himself provided the atoning sacrifice. "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Romans 5:18) Those who believe in Jesus Christ as the means to become justified, are promised eternal life with God. There is nothing that man can do or any work that can be performed that will allow anyone in the human race to justify themselves before the Lord. "For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) God completely handles the justice component of salvation, but the sanctification process is another matter.
Scripture teaches that once man is saved, and men and women are saved through grace, there is a work that still needs to be accomplished within the human being. This work is a process that brings the new believer into a deeper knowledge, and therefore closer relationship with the loving Creator. Because a saved woman or man still lives in a fallen world and resides in the body that is built for this world (and is perishing) and not for eternity, there is eternal spiritual work that needs to be accomplished to equip each believer in representing the One in whose image he or she has been made. This process, after justification, is called sanctification, and is the ongoing process of achieving holiness. The initial response to the difficult task of overcoming the world is often a misunderstanding as to why God does not just immediately make us holy at the point of salvation. There are theological debates that surround this issue, but scripture clearly teaches that those who belong to Christ bear responsibility in their actions. For more insight into the pursuit of sanctification, visit these Bible resources.
In the book of James, the writer explains in chapter two that faith and works go hand in hand and that just as a body is dead without a spirit, faith also is lifeless without work. "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?" (James 2:21) In the book of 2 Peter, we also find a process that is explained in simple terms, giving readers an idea of not only the sanctification process, but of the bountiful fruit that comes as a result of pursuing holiness. "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:5-8)
God pursued man in offering the ultimate sacrifice for sin and bringing man back into a relationship. Now it should be man's pleasure to pursue God in humility and gratitude through sanctification. The pursuit of God is the pursuit of holiness, and when we follow in the paths that Jesus Christ has laid, we find a new and abundant life that gives new meaning to the word holy. "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
Perhaps the most profound reason for submitting, obeying, serving, and pursuing God while on a planet that is consistently turning away from holiness is found in a parable taught by Jesus himself. The story that Christ uses to illustrate his point is found in Matthew 25 and is about a man who gives money (gifts) to his servants according to their ability to serve, and the man journeys to a far away country, leaving the servants in charge of the estate. Upon his return, the master finds that two servants have faithfully increased the estate's wealth while one has does nothing with the gifts given. While the one servant with little to show is reprimanded for being slothful, the other two are told the words that every believer longs within their own hearts to hear, "Well done thy good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the thy Lord."
Obedience to GodObedience to God comes before submissiveness to any civil leadership, although all just and righteous instruction does come from God and deserves a citizen's allegiance as long as that leadership is moral in its requests. Obedience to authority is what makes a nation or community civilized. Without having laws put in place by legitimate civil leaders, chaos would reign. Listening to God and the consequences of not following His instructions are shown quite clearly throughout scripture. Adam and Eve lost their right to live in Eden because they failed the test in following God's instructions. Jesus put it quite succinctly when he said "Render therefore unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's." The Ten Commandments in the Old Testament made knowing the laws of God fairly straightforward. Jesus went for more brevity when he told all people to love God above all else, and to love neighbors as ourselves. Adherence to God's law will always be uppermost in the mind of a Christian. The most dramatic scriptural reference concerning adherence to law appears in Romans 5:19, where it says "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." In other words, because of Adam's disobedience all people are sinners, and because of Christ's resurrection all those who believe are freed from that original sin. Throughout the New Testament there are references to the importance of listening to The Father.
Adherence to leadership within the church is mentioned many times in the letters of Paul. He understood the importance of leadership and authority within the church body to keep the faith among the converted, and bring in new people. There had to be an authoritative body to settle disputes that might come up, and such counsel had to be coming from men who were fully informed on what Godly submissiveness really meant. Obedience to authority enters into every phase of life, all the way down to the submissiveness necessary in the relationship of children to their parents. The leadership that parents have over their children calls for instruction in God's Word. Parents are to correct their children and exert leadership over them, but they are also supposed to love them unconditionally, just as God loves his children. Obedience to God encompasses those things. Even as a boy, Jesus understood the call, and stopped in the temple to visit with the teachers there, asking and answering questions. He told his parents he had to be "about my father's business." Scripture doesn't give readers much information about Jesus' growing up years, but his closeness to The Father must have kept him in submissiveness to authority, especially from his parents. In our time, a lack of obedience and respect has become a problem in families and schools. For more information of important issues, visit our Bible resources.
There are several Internet sites with commentary of Biblical submissiveness and it is surprising just how much has been said on the subject. By going through the Bible from beginning to end, the subject has been researched quite thoroughly, so for anyone wanting to thoroughly understand obedience to God in all its perspectives, the commentaries can be brought up by keying in "Bible Commentary." Submissiveness to God and authority over society are both covered and put in perspective. Without respect to laws, civil or Biblical, there will be lawlessness. Examples of that are in the daily headlines and on nightly TV news. If everyone who wantonly breaks the communities' rules and regulations were made to see the importance of putting God's laws into practice in their lives, society would be dramatically different. It is by obedience to authority that people grow in holiness, and really come to know the Father.
Some people think that by saying that Jesus died for sins and they believe that, there is no need for respect or submissiveness of His commandments. Jesus and the disciples taught Christians to respect and honor God and societal leadership. Submission and adherence to the Father's instruction is a believer's part of the covenant, and living in righteousness and holiness shows love toward God and man. Most people find themselves in constant struggle between the attractions of the material world with its false messages, and the truth of The Father up above. By the power of the Holy Spirit, believers must make a choice of which message to follow. If Christians behave as Jesus taught and completely submit to the Lord's instruction and direction and choosing obedience to God over selfish desires, all will be rewarded. The Father has appointed leadership over people to bring order to society, and people are expected to show obedience to authority. Even Christ is subject to the Father. Penalties occur when civil laws are disobeyed. It is the same with the Father's laws. If believers disobey them without repentance, there will be a price to pay. Central to this view is the love that is supposed to motivate all a person does if they are to be Christians.