Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Divide Between Justification and Sanctification

My wife and I went to a Casting Crowns concert in Charlotte this past Saturday. I have their latest studio album, The Altar and the Door. I had listened to it a few times, but the messages on it just hadn't sunk in. I just haven't taken the time to study the lyrics more closely, which I regret not having done. I appreciated Mark Hall explaining the songs they sung from the album and will be contemplating them more closely in light of scripture.

The title song, The Altar and the Door, is really from a line in the song Somewhere in the Middle which really expresses the theme of the album. It's about the difference between the well-intentioned prayers and offerings made at the "altar" that seem to change when we get up and head for the door.

Justification is God's eternal decree. There is one act of justification that demonstrates this in time. God promised justification to all who trust Him. We can be certain of our justification. Sanctification happens over time. Goc provides sanctification prior to the time we begin to trust Him in order to give us the life we need to have faith. After we realize our justification, God continues to sanctify us as we daily live in Him. Justification is God's absolute provision. Sanctification is His subjective provision. We need sanctification because we continue to sin even after we realize our justification.

Trusting God means that we must be satisfied with His provision. It also means that we cannot be satisfied with where we are.

I am to be satisfied with my house, my spouse, my kids, my job, my church, my income, my ministry... So what justifies change at all? We continue to sin and others continue to sin. So what do we say? Does God perpetuate His purposes through sin? No, but we have a limited understanding of sin. We tend to focus on the actual rather than the intentional. What we intend for evil, God intends for good for we have not surprised God with any sin we commit. Does God allow sin by withholding judgement for a time? No. He works all things according to His good purpose.

So, we must be satisfied for God is good. However, there is a hot earth under the cold oceans. Such satisfaction threatens to erupt when sin is exposed. I rejoice where I am today because of a battle won yesterday, but I cannot be satisfied because I must advance to new ground tomorrow.

We are satisfied at the altar, but we must get up and go. The good news is that the altar doesn't stay. Our lives are the altar upon which our bodies are given as a living and holy sacrifice which is our spiritual service of worship. And so sanctification returns to justification.

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