It seems that whenever I read Romans 4-8, I always have the same conundrum: it’s hard (at times) to tell where Paul is talking about justification (us being covered by Christ’s righteousness the moment we turn to Him in faith) versus sanctification (us being made more righteous through the Holy Spirit living within us).
But I almost wonder if that is how it is meant to be. It’s kind of like what a mentor taught me about John 15, where Jesus talks about the vine and the branches: you can’t tell exactly where a vine becomes a branch.
In the same way, perhaps, seeing that we are justified in Christ compels us to walk more holy, while walking by the Spirit is the sign we are justified completely in Christ. So they sort of inform and feed each other in a way that is not so easy to say THIS is justification and THAT is sanctification.
Of course there is a difference. But they are both essential parts of our Christian life, and both are tied with each other in various ways.
Reminds me of Hebrews 10:14 – “By a single offering God has perfected for ALL TIME those who are being perfected/sanctified” Shows the truth of both. God declares us perfect in Christ the moment we believe. But as a result, we get His Spirit within, and live out a more and more perfect/holy life. Only those who have that evidence of a life change (being perfected by the Spirit within) are the ones who are ACTUALLY justified/totally forgiven in Christ. That sanctification is THE PROOF we have been justified.
Last thought on this: I love seeing this dual aspect in the Passover Feast.
The 1 Lamb:
- provided perfect blood that covers the house so they were spared from God’s wrath
- was eaten (so dwelled inside them) as sustenance for them to actually walk out of Egypt
Jesus is that Passover Lamb:
- His sacrifice spares us from God’s wrath.
- His life is now within us, by his Spirit, for the lifelong journey of leaving our old life in Egypt and pressing on to the Promised Land