Justification and Sanctification


Everyone…I moved this discussion over for everyone to get involved.


you said: Anyway, while I’m hunting up that material on a comparison of justification and sanctification (and polishing it up for presentation), I think an important question for consideration is: what does justification most fundamentally mean?–or even (if applicable) what does it most fundamentally relate or connect to?

Born Again: Justification means that you have been declared not guilty or declared righteous… Just as I never sinned. You now have the ability to stand in the presence of God as free from sin and condemnation as though there had never been any spiritual death within your spirit. ( Romans 5:1-2 )

Sanctification means to be set apart or to purify and made holy. When we are born again we are set apart from the world and made holy. Sanctification is the process of being made into the image of Christ.

Instantaneous Sainthood
JRP: Justification == Sanctification

Thanks, BA. I may post the paper I wrote up and edited here to this thread instead, with crosslinks back to the other one. I can foresee a narrower topical discussion on distinctions (or lacks thereof) between the terms, with a different but related discussion on the fundamental concept of justification developing in the other thread. A thread on J&S would be handier for the more narrow discussion, which itself could be pretty complicated and in-depth.

The already established thread, for those who don’t know already, is over here and at this time is entitled “A Lutheran perspective”; although I hope RanRan will agree to its title being changed to something more clearly descriptive of the topic (“Scope and character of objective justification” or something of that sort.)


Here’s my report on justification compared to sanctification in NT scripture. (An OT scripture discussion would be certainly fine with me; but I don’t have a good OT concordance yet for locating verses by Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic terms.)

Okay, at the time I first researched and wrote up this data, I had been talking with a Calvinist–as I said (in the other thread), a good and thoughtful one, who has had a lot of experience in understanding and applying Reformed Theology (Calv flavor, though he would probably also say Luthor’s and Augustine’s flavor and would certainly say Biblical flavor {g}). In discussing my universalism (call it MacDonaldian flavor, though I and MacD would certainly say Biblical flavor {g!}) he was concerned about whether I basically thought that people were too good for God to condemn (not having really read me that much, except where a compatriot of his had quoted me intentionally out of context perhaps–which his compatriot admitted he had done and excused it for a lame reason I won’t go into here… {wry g} )

I affirmed the doctrines of grace and total depravity (meaning as he did that all humanity is in need of God’s salvation), but I went on to apply it according to the typical universalist (and to some degree Arminian) understanding of Rom 11 as well as Rom 5: that just as all have sinned God has saving mercy on all. (Indeed, that just as through the disobedience of one man the many were constituted as sinners, thus also through the obedience of the One the many shall be constituted as just. 5:19) I know his compatriot is extremely well aware, by the way–meaning my friend probably was and is, too–that if Rom 5 is interpreted to really mean “all” in parallel comparison, then universalism (and neither Calvinism nor Arminianism) must be true.

(Without naming names, I have seen this compatriot tag an Arminian apologist on precisely this ground: surely the Arminian didn’t really mean that about Rom 5, because then the Arm would have no way to oppose me, the universalist!—thus, since universalism must be false (as he and the Arm apologist both agreed), the Arm must logically be required to read Rom 5 in a Calv manner instead. The Arm apologist never replied to this, so I don’t know how he himself construed his defense, but I know he remains a virulent Arminian or anyway a virulent anti-Calvinist. :mrgreen: )

Thus I said in regard to any sinner coherently imaginable (up to and including Satan): “I am no better than he, for I too am a sinner. The grace that I hope for myself, the chief of sinners, I better give to him.” (Meaning also that I had better expect it for him, too. I not only had in mind the parable of the tax-collector, as well as many related teachings from the Synoptic Gospels, but also Paul’s rebuke to his Roman congregation readers at the beginning of Rom 2.)

My respondent agreed that so far as this went it seemed logical, but added, “The only difference I guess is that because of God’s grace I am counted righteous because by trusting in Christ alone I receive his righteousness.”

That was his emphasis, by the way (on ‘counted’); so I wanted to ensure that we both were agreeing that God is not merely counting us as righteous (in the sense of pretending we are righteous when we are not doing righteousness at all) but is judging us as actually righteous (even if only partially so in combination with remaining unrighteousness) when we by God’s grace and through His empowerment do righteousness (such as trusting in Christ and cooperating with the Holy Spirit).

At that time I was simply staying on the topic of God judging us in righteousness, and was not bringing up the question of technical distinctions (if any) between justification and sanctification (whether within ‘Reformation Theology’ or otherwise.)

So in my reply I wrote, “I would only add (or maybe just clarify) that trusting in Christ (as Abraham did) is in fact a righteous action–one we couldn’t do without the operation of the Spirit in us leading as well as empowering us to do so. True, my cooperation with the Spirit is righteousness, too (which again the Spirit leads us as well as empowers us to do), and so long as I refuse to receive His righteousness, I am not doing righteousness. But the point is that God (in any person) is hardly having to pretend I am doing righteousness when I trust in Christ thanks to the Spirit of the inheritance in my heart crying “Abba! Father!” and interceding for me with words too deep for groans.

“God, fairly judging, accounts (or reckons) that as righteousness, because it is righteousness.”

And I went on to say that I didn’t think any of this would be rejected in Calvinist theology (having Calvin’s own comments from his remarks on 1 John in mind, though I don’t think I mentioned them specifically at that time. But they were in view because the topic was originally on the question of whether, and/or to what extent, God loves the “reprobate”–a topic obviously affected by how 1 John’s statements, about God being love, are interpreted.)

His next reply was, “the Reformed have traditionally not called the act of faith a righteous action, though we would agree that we cannot put our faith in God unless the Spirit empowers us to do so. This is a principle point in Reformation theology. We would deny that ‘my cooperation with the Spirit is righteousness.’ So, we would say that God counts the act of faith as righteousness not because it is righteousness, but because the object of the faith is righteousness. His righteousness is imputed to us, our sin and guilt to him on the cross. But there could be a nuance or definition I’m missing out on.”

Unfortunately, I’ve lost all the original emails we exchanged on the topic, so I’m working from a late email I saved (for later reference–like now for example :mrgreen: ) where I traced back how we had gotten to the point where we were. From what I can tell, he had then made reference to Calvin’s commentary on 1 John (now bringing in the topics of justification compared to sanctification); and I replied (now lost) something about the content of Calvin’s commentary in relation to our topic; after which my respondent asked for some clarification.

And that sets up the original context for the rest of my discussion after this point. :smiley:

(I would be entirely happy for him to show up and discuss these matters on the forum; and in fact I intend to alert him that I’ve deployed this paper here, so that he can do so if he has the time and inclination to do so.)

The first thing I noted, was that Calvin says nothing about justification per se in his comments on the relevant portions of 1 John (about the doing of righteousness); and his one remark about sanctification is not about the doing of any righteousness by man but rather about our old man being crucified in Christ and the Spirit mortifying the flesh by means of repentance. “This [destruction of the reigning power of sin] belongs to the sanctification of the Spirit.” But the place from Romans which Calvin is referencing by this remark, uses neither one nor the other term, but rather follows portions where the same action of God through, in and as Christ on the cross, has been called “justification”. (Rom 6:1-7)

The point was that what Calvin in his commentary on 1 John called “sanctification”, was actually called “justification” in the portion of Romans that Calvin was referring to as ground for his comment.

I was not (and transferring over to ‘current grammar’ now) am not meaning to say that justification (and/or sanctification) is irrelevant to the doing of righteousness; far from it. I am only noting that even Calvin (of all people!) could speak of the doing of righteousness (by the elect) and affirm (very strongly) that it is in fact the doing of righteousness, without speaking of technical distinctions between justification and sanctification per se. In fact, he can speak of something as sanctification in reference to a place where St. Paul calls the same thing justification.

Not that I expect Calvin, of all people, noticed this. :wink: But the irony is not only palpable; it is deeply instructive.

Leaving Calvin and his peculiar and inadvertently illustrative example behind: what do I find when I start looking through the New Testament?

I find there to be a verb-process of hallowing and a (noun) result of holiness; terms which are frequently translated ‘sanctify/ing’ and ‘sanctification’. I find this same distinction between process and result in the references to justification, too, although the interrelation may be more complex. Furthermore, the verb descriptions for justification (less often for sanctification) may have the judgment of God in view, or the action of God in leading sinners to be truly righteous (whether still mixed temporarily with unrighteousness or ultimately with no unrighteousness at all), or even both actions of God (the leading and the judging) in view.

Even conceptually, the term sets themselves (holy/hallow, and just/justify) don’t seem to be logically separate in any significant way. To hallow (sanctify) is to make or pronounce holy; to be holy (including by analogy from its root in dedication, to be faithfully dedicated–in this case to God) is to be just; to justify is to make or pronounce the object just. On this ground, we could expect the term sets to be talking about the same process, deed, state and judgment.

Now, I do find (and logically distinguish) some distinction between process, fact and verdict; the key difference between my position (being developed so far) and large branches of Reformation theology (with lead-ins from Roman Catholic theology), is that there are two processes (with attendant facts, and verdicts): first justification, then once that’s accomplished sanctification.

But there is no such double process in view for the elect in Acts 20:32. Nor at Acts 26:18. Nor at Rom 6:19-23. Nor at Rom 15:16. Nor at 1 Cor 1:2. Nor at 1 Cor 1:30 (where the context would tend to indicate what my friend was calling ‘justification’ is instead called ‘sanctification’.) Nor at 1 Cor 7:14. Nor at 2 Cor 6:14-7:1. Nor at Eph 1:3-12 (which has a lot to do with being designated and chosen beforehand to be presented holy and flawless). Nor at Eph 5:25-27 (ditto). Nor at Col 1:21-23. Nor at 1 Thess 3:12-13. Nor at 1 Thess 4:3-8. Nor at 1 Thess 5:23. Nor at 2 Thess 2:13-17 (which involves a preferential call from the beginning). Nor at 1 Tim 2:15. Nor at 2 Tim 2:21. Nor at Heb 9:13 (where the context would tend to indicate that what my friend called ‘justification’ is being called ‘hallowing’ or ‘sanctification’). Nor at Heb 10:10,14 (perhaps even more emphatically ditto by context). Nor at Heb 10:29. Nor in Heb 12 (which speaks of partaking of Christ’s holiness among many other things). Nor at 1 Pet 1:1-9.

(I am willing to discuss any of these in much more detail as desired, by the way. But I am expecting that anyone making a tolerably close check will quickly see that no such double process is in view at any of these points. Anyway, I didn’t find them there. Detailed discussion, and even detailed correction if possible, is entirely welcome. :slight_smile: )

It might be replied that even if no such double process is in view at any of those (numerous) points, they are still testifying to two different processes–it would just happen that they never testify to both processes at the same time.

Fortunately, there are a few times when NT authors talk about both justification and sanctification in close proximity. Even better, the two authors represent (slightly) different NT text-sets (Pauline and Johannine). So if we should have a doctrine of a double process, or a double action, justification and then sanctification (or vice versa?), these places ought to testify to it, and not to something else instead.

1 Cor 6:11 has three statements in triple repetition emphasis, “And some of you were these. But you were bathed off; but you were hallowed; but you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” The verb form for hallow and justify is the same in both cases; it would be proper to translate the verbs a little differently in each case (you are hallowed, you are justified; or you have been hallowed, you have been justified), but the tenses should be identical in each case either way. More importantly for our purposes, though, the emphatic {alla} or conjunctive ‘but’ in each case, shows that the phrases are intended as rhetorical equivalents: you were once one of these, but!–but!–but!

Admittedly, if justification comes first and then sanctification, the rhetorical construction wouldn’t necessarily have to reflect that order here. But for whatever it’s worth, the order of mention doesn’t reflect the theory of a justification first then sanctification as a processional order, either.

Rev 22:11: another case of poetic repetition of equivalents for emphasis. First “Let the injurer injure still; and let the filthy be filthy still.” Then “and let the just do righteousness still; and let the holy be hallowed still.” There is a distinction between action in one phrase and a state in the other (both for evil and for good), but no affirmation of an accomplishment of justification first and then an accomplishment of sanctification.

At none of these places so far, then, is God presented as first ‘justifying’ a sinner and then afterward ‘sanctifying’ the sinner (or vice versa, for that matter). In fact, the verb ‘justify’ rarely even shows up near the verb for ‘sanctify’. Not at Matt 12:37, where Jesus declares as a principle, “For by your words shall you be justified, and by your words shall you be convicted.” Nor at Luke 18:14, where the tax-collector who humbles himself is justified by God. Nor in St. Paul’s sermon in Acts 13:39. Nor at Rom 2:13, where the doers of the law (not merely the hearers) are justified by God. Nor in the great declaration of justification from Rom 3:9-5:21. (It may however may be the switch from the term ‘justify’ to ‘sanctify’ afterward throughout the rest of the epistle, which gives the impression there are two processes being described, one subsequent to the other. But the application of the two terms is still actually similar; which is why Calvin, speaking of what is called ‘justification’ prior to Rom 6:6, can call it ‘sanctification of the Holy Spirit’ in his comments on the doing of righteousness in 1 John. It is not called by either term at or around Rom 6:6, by the way.) Nor at 1 Cor 4:4. Nor in, oh, all of Galatians. :mrgreen: Nor at Titus 3:1-7 (which is expressly about salvation by the grace of God and not by works). Nor at Ja 2:20-26.

A (relatively) fast but complete scan of the New Testament scriptures shows that if they teach such a “logical separation” (as my friend called it) between justification and sanctification, it is at least not a very obvious teaching. Rather, the two terms, and their cognates (where the cognates have some distinction of process, deed, state and judgment), are typically used interchangeably in the scriptures (at least in the NT; perhaps there is some sequentially occurring double-process testified to in the OT?) – as is demonstrated in the few places where the terms actually occur in close relation to one another.

It might of course be said that first there is the sacrifice of the Lamb, and then justification and sanctification of the sinner. However, the historical event of the crucifixion represents the slaying of the Lamb from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). The priority is still ontological, not (in any primary way) temporally sequential; the Son does not first begin being self-sacrificial for sinners on the cross. And again, the scriptural testimony does not really have a strong logical distinction between justification and sanctification in the acceptance of Christ by faith.

Certainly, God declares us justified when we accept Him by faith, which acceptance is a historical action on our part; but this belongs to the category of judgmental reckoning: God vouches that we are doing what is just: the Righteous One declares we are indeed doing righteousness. Our own righteousness? No–there is no righteousness than God’s righteousness.

(The “alien” righteousness is not–despite some Reformation theologians and apologists–the righteousness of God, which is the only true righteousness, but rather any attempts of ours to be the standard of righteousness or to find righteousness anywhere other than from God. Thus we alienate ourselves from Him. But “let God be true though every man a liar” as St. Paul declares, and “if some do not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be!”)



When the penalty had been paid, man stood before God justified or declared righteous… not guilty. Man now has the ability to stand in the presence of God free from sin and condemnation as though there had never been any spiritual death within his spirit.

When God could declare man righteous and legally freed from spiritual death, He had the right to impart life, His own nature, to the spirit of man by faith…being Born Again or spiritually reborn from above. :wink:


Before there was man or sin the Lamb was slain. Man has always been justified. At and by His call we realize our justification. God makes the call on everyman and as Jesus demonstrated upon His death he made the call in the realm of the dead. God is God of the living and the dead and his arm reaches into all realms that all might be saved and gathered into the Father, as All in All.

Only vain ignorance proclaims less!


He declared us justified at the Cross! What does faith have to do with it? Or the idea that I control God like that? And ‘accepting’ WHAT exactly? That Christ didn’t actually take my sins away at the Cross until I believe it?

Trust me, the dead aren’t responding or ‘accepting’ - they’re dead - yet they will be resurrected and they will confess Christ.

It baffles me that you think God is so impressed with your faith that justification hinges on you and your righteousness (your faith itself) and not on Christ - who won of your justification in the first place.

Your essential message here has been: “Have faith in your faith” What dangerous advice! Truly, you have made faith the work that justifies and if justifies, saves. We save ourselves now?



A justified person is one who is free from any charge of guilt, and therefore has a right standing before God. It is a change in a man’s standing before God. It is a change from guilt and condemnation to acquittal and acceptance. Even if the guilty sinner is forgiven his sin and pardoned from its penalty, how can he be justified, declared not guilty? Justification is an act of God. It is the free gift of God’s grace “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24). With the sinner, God not only forgives, but justifies. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is without guilt in God’s sight. Justification is our title to eternal life. Forgiveness of sin removes its penalty-death; justification gives its reward eternal life. Therefore justification consists firstly of the forgiveness of sin and the removal of its guilt and punishment and secondly the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and restoration to God’s favour. The forgiven sinner is not like the discharged prisoner who has served out his term and is discharged from further punishment but with no rights of citizenship. The repentant sinner receives back in his pardon, the full rights of citizenship of heaven, as if he has never sin before.


I intended this thread to be about the topic of the relationship between justification and sanctification; certainly, that was what my paper was about! (It was even what BA’s initial comment was about, on which he created the thread. But I would have made a new thread for the comparison topic anyway.)

The comments so far would be better topically posted back in the earlier thread (with reference to my report, where you’re bothering to quote from it), considering that they are more about the basic meaning of justification.

Also, you could stand to read my paper more closely, Ran. You’re skipping some important portions, where I say something rather different than you represent me as saying and meaning. (For example, the end of that brief paragraph from which you snipped my remark out of context. :unamused: But I’ll give you a fair chance to adjust before I reply.)



I agree with Jason. This thread was created to come to an understanding of justification and sanctification.

Btw, you have to accept the gift of the cross by faith to be justified and sanctified.


Not so, you have to accept the declaration of the cross by faith in order live out of justification and sanctification. The reason why faith is required to live out of righteousness, is because we cannot see it by any other means. We are already declared righteous and justified, but the righteous and just will live by faith. It is all a matter of from which side you are view, viewing as the world or viewing as God through His Son.



Do you want to add what you believe Justification and Sanctification are? Without accepting the gift of the cross by faith there is no justification or sanctification to live out. You must first receive it by faith and then live out. :wink:


The word ‘receive’ in is not ‘accept’, as in “the act of one accepting” but ‘recieve’ it is who was “the one in recipient of”. Since these things are promises based on inheritance, it is kept in trust by the One who has given it. You don’t have a choice to receive it, it is already yours.

If you accept that you have this inheritance in trust, you are able to live out of this promise; if you do not accept that you have this inheritance in trust, you are unable to live out of this promise. Whether or not you accept it or not has no relevance on whether you actually have it in trust.

Verily Verily, you can live a poor man rejecting the fact you have a billion dollars in your bank account, or you can accept the fact you have a billion dollars in your bank account. Since the billion dollars is in trust to you held by an executor, it is not your choice on whether or not you actually have a billion dollars in that bank account. You are rich, even if you choose to live in poverty.

Now since you may not actually see this inheritance to live out of it, you must accept it based on faith. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

One who believes in conditional salvation and eternal torment could never accurately understand what it means to live by faith, since what they receive is based on works, and wages based on works are owed, not given. Especially since the faith we live by has never been ours, but was given to us by Another.



Again, if you wish to add what you believe biblical justification and sanctification are…that would be wonderful. If you want to argue the fact the book of Romans and most of the NT teach justification by faith…please go to the other thread.


You demonstrate you do not know what it means to accept anything ‘by faith’ and as a result, your understanding is different. Righteousness and Justification is not granted by good works, therefore there is no expectation of righteousness or justification which will ever come by good works. That is why, it is ‘by faith’ and if by faith then it is not of anything you can do since it God’s work already bestowed upon all by His Grace and Mercy. Quitting treating faith like a work which deserves wages, and begin understand faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see and you will understand the Gospel.

It is you, who has chosen to argue as it was you who made this statement: “You must first receive it by faith and then live out.” and I am ensuring there is no confusion. That which is received, does not come by acceptance.

It is you, who has chosen to argue as it was you who made this statement: “you have to accept the gift of the cross by faith to be justified and sanctified.” and I am ensuring there is no confusion. We have already received justification and sanctification by the gift of a cross, and since it is not based on anything we did and not based on our choice, it is by faith can we live this out.

You do not have the authority and you have lost any credential to tell someone where they can post something.


Jason, I admit to skimming. I also believe that brevity is a virtue. :wink: Not that I possess such a virtue myself - if I were to have written a Gospel is would have been 900 pages long - your’s, in that many VOLUMES.

But I did quote what you SAID - and I did not think out of context. Which was:

“Certainly, God declares us justified when we accept Him by faith…”

What did I miss in that quid pro quo?



Ahh. You want to hi-jack the thread and make accepting Jesus by faith and make that a work. Old Calvinistic Jedi mind trick ( I used to be one). Create a new thread Craig and let us discuss it.


If you think-so, it was you who guided this discussion and you could have just not replied with the statements you did, but you did. You will be banned from here sooner or later, the only one playing tricks here, is you.

I am not a Calvinist, no have I ever been one. I disagree with all points of TULIP.

God is sovereign and we have the ability to make choices when they are present to make.

Universalism dictates that all are saved or in the progress of being saved (Justification and Sanctification). This is not a Calvinist position, this is a Universalism position.

Since you do not understand the Universalist position, you can only relate it to what you think it ‘sounds’ like: Calvinism. You are the one who is in error by your assumptions.

There is no such things as Total Depravity. There is no such thing as unconditional Election. There is no such thing as Limited Atonement. There is no such thing as Irresistible Grace (Calvinist definition of Grace). There is no such thing as preservation of the saints (Calvinist definition of preservation).


To bring further color to this conversation about justification I think it would instructive to discuss the apparent disparity between justification by faith (reference in Romans 4:1-9) and justification by works through faith (referenced in James 2:14-21).

Let’s take a look at the Romans passage first:

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

Paul’s argument in the previous chapter is that *“by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” *(Romans 3:20), and in this chapter he demonstrates how Abraham BEFORE THE LAW, believed God and it was counted unto for righteousness. Well, what exactly did Abraham believe? For this, one must go to the source in Genesis 15:

“And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

Here we have the promise of God that Abraham, who was concerned that he would have no heir to the point of considering his servant Eliezer as heir, that he would bear a seed that would produce offspring as vast as the stars of heaven and the sands of the sea. And it is the belief in this promise that is counted for righteousness to Abraham. And we see the fruition of this promise in the birth of Isaac. Abraham only had to trust God that what He had promised, He would do. There is no works involved with that belief. Abraham was justified by faith.
However, when we come to James, we find Abraham is again used as an example:

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

How does one solve the dilemma of justification by works, and not faith alone?
The key here is in the use of the same scripture how *‘Abraham believed God and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.’ *Because in this example we see to the sacrifice of Isaac, not his birth, which is a major difference in application.

Since Abraham was already justified by faith by believing God for an heir that would produce countless offspring, that faith will now be tested upon the sacrifice of Isaac. We know the story in Genesis 22 where Abraham and Isaac climb Mount Moriah and just as Abraham is about to bring down the blade to kill his son he is stopped by a messenger for God to spare his child and kill a provided ram in his stead. The test is complete and Abraham is justified in that work, because of the initial faith He had in God on the original promise. His faith is real.

We really have to get into what must have gone through Abraham’s mind as he received instruction from God to sacrifice Isaac. Surely the thought had to cross his mind as to how God’s promise to him back in Genesis 15 would be fulfilled in Isaac if he is to be killed before he could marry and produce the sands of the sea. Why on earth would God tell him to do this? Abraham was blinded to the results. He didn’t know how God was going to keep his promise. And it would forever torture his soul if Isaac would perish.

Consider the alternative. What if Abraham refused to obey God and not take Isaac up the mountain? He would be disobedience to his calling. He would not be blessed of God. And even though he would spare his son, he would live a mundane life without the blessings foretold in Genesis 15.

So in essence, Abraham decided to leave the results up to God. It was His problem, though I’m sure Abraham would be saddened seeing his son killed. But the point here is that the works (in Abraham going through the sacrifice) justified his faith. Faith became an active agent in Abraham’s life. And this is what Peter meant when he said;

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”- I Peter 1:7

Abraham honored God despite the circumstances from which he could see no way around them. God tried Abraham and he was justified in his work that proved his faith.

“He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” - Romans 4:20-21

When James makes the argument of justification by works through faith, he’s not dismissing justification by faith as stated in the Romans passage, but that the same initial faith Abraham had has to be tested in order for that faith to come into fruition.

Look at how James demonstrates this faith by works. He first appeals to the scripture: *“If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:” – James 2:8. * Keeping the law is a good thing, and essential to understanding the heart of God. But it involves cooperation in fulfilling the law properly, not having respect of persons, and not giving lip-service as opposed to serving others in love. Anyone can say they love someone, but how is that love manifested? Without a demonstration of that love, it is vain words. So faith without works is dead. You can have faith in Christ to save you initially, but how can that faith in christ be sustained if you are not willing to obey Him? You will be exactly like the devils who also believe in Him, but do nothing.


He drags us through the cross, because we have absolutely no [size=150]“will”[/size] for such, or for that mater, anything else.

Willing, who in hell is ever willing!. When God lays you low by the love of His fiery judgements, you can only but obey Him. When will we ever learn to rest by knowing it is God working in us for His pleasure and all our steps are ordered. We will realize that when we cannot get off the floor and He reaches down and lifts us. So the trials that bring death, to even the idea that we have a will, come until it can be said of us, like it was of Enoch, [size=150]“we are no more.”[/size] To desire a will outside of His, is to desire to see our own vain reflection in the mirror. Take just a little bit of will which some propose and you break His will. Can you not see this! Oh, such futility in man, that it can only be matched by his vanity. So it be, the unenlightened man caught between vanity and futility blindly chases his tail until God pulls him out of His little self absorbed circle and into the great circle of His light and rest.

Faith is always the driver of fruitful works, and faith is but the substance of God that moves into man, through man and back out of man returning to God.

Let the [size=150]“not I”[/size] of the following scripture burn up all our works. [size=150]IT IS ALL HIM![/size]

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I WORKED harder than all of them–yet [size=150]not I[/size] but the grace of God that was with me. 1Cor 15:10



Could you clarify this for me? What do you mean by “alien” righteousness?

btw, I’m still working through your post–lots of material to consider there–and I’ll probably have some comments when I’m done.

Dondi, I appreciate your post too! Good thoughts to think on. :sunglasses: