Wednesday, September 3, 2008

justification and sanctification

Titus 2:13-15 Looking for that blessed hope and, and glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
In this passage of scripture, Paul is writing to a fellow minister in the faith, counseling him on how the church is to be run, and reminding and teaching him some fundamental doctrines. We must keep in mind that at this point, the church as we know it was in it's infancy and Satan was doing all in his power to corrupt the truth before it got spread too far. Paul starts out these verses telling Titus to be looking forward to that day when Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior, will appear. I'm thankful that he also took this opportunity to remind Titus of just why Jesus came to die the first time.
The first reason Paul gives is that Jesus came to redeem us from (that is pay for) our iniquities. We know that the scriptures plainly teach that sin pays out wages and those wages are death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. God cannot simply ignore our sins though, the only reason God can offer that free gift is because our debt has already been paid by a sinless one, Jesus Christ. We call this "Justification", basically it means that God as a judge looks at our record and sees that although we once owed a debt, it has been paid, and we are therefore free to enter heaven. Although we continue to sin on occasion as long as we are in this world, all of it has already been paid for if you have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul then gives Titus a second reason that Jesus came to die and that is to purify us and make us zealous to good works. This is called "Progressive Sanctification" and it is the doctrine that over a period of a lifetime God's children live holier and holier lives through the strength of the Holy Spirit. The reason Paul mentions this as a reason Christ died, is because before we are redeemed, we can do nothing but sin, we have no choice. When Christ saves us we now have freedom; not to live however we want to, but to choose the right. As we grow in grace and God teaches us through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the scriptures, we begin to make the right choices with greater frequency. Satan hates this doctrine and has tried ever since Paul's time to eradicate it, but in God's word we have preserved for eternity that Christ came to die to purify us and make us zealous of good works. The one who denies this is saying the same thing that those who teach works salvation are saying, that Christ's blood can't really do all the scriptures say it can do. One crowd says it is not powerful enough in itself to justify you, the other says it is not strong enough in itself to sanctify you. Paul says it is strong enough to do both, and inevitably does both. You did not choose to be justified and you cannot choose whether you want to be sanctified or not, that's God's business!
Lastly in these verses, Paul tells Titus to speak these things with authority, and to let no man discourage him through despite. We cannot stop people from despising the truth, but we can go on, holding fast to the doctrines of Christ, speaking the truth in love. If you stand on God's word than you can be sure you are on the side of the truth, because God will be true and every man (that disagrees with Him) a liar. You may suffer for speaking the truth, but fight the good fight, keep the faith, that you may finish your course with joy. If you are one that has been redeemed, let me encourage you to be pure and zealous of good works, as a faithful servant of Christ.

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