Can you separate Christ’s work of sanctification on the cross from a disciple’s work of justification here amongst the world? That was the question (well, one of them) I posed in yesterday’s post.
Was Christ’s sacrifice on the cross enough for our salvation (deliverance from our sinful nature), sanctification (consecration to God as a child and heir) and justification (validation and accounting of our faith and belief)?
Well, yes . . .
At the foot of the cross, when I look up and see my sin—my very flesh—nailed to those wooden beams with Christ, there is nothing I can or need do beyond the realization and acceptance of God’s grace, freely given, yet costing everything.
“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.” (Romans 3:25a)
“For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross.” (Galatians 3:1)
As far as my salvation and my sanctification, in the eyes of God, within the work of Jesus, it is well and truly finished.
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.”
. . . . and, no.
Since the very nature of Christ’s ‘work’ on the cross was for the cleansing of man’s iniquities, “so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life”. And, if I am now separated from the sinful nature that imprisoned me here in the world, then I no longer need work to have God see goodness or Christ in me. God, by his own volition, chooses to no longer see me at all, but only the image of Christ within me. I, along with my sinful flesh and imperfect nature, have died to Him.
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
And yet, does that mean I no longer ‘work’ at all, for any reason whatsoever? (I’m of course speaking of acts/works of righteousness and not 9-5, day-to-day toiling.) I realize that some will say, as does the prophet Isaiah, “When we display our righteous deeds [to God], they are nothing but filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) Our ‘righteous deeds’ are useless to our salvation, irrelevant to our sanctification, and “filthy rags” to justification in God’s eyes.
But, what of the world’s eyes?
What is our responsibility in showing ourselves justified by faith to a fallen creation; to people far from God, entrapped in sin, addiction, hopelessness, anguish and fear?
“….how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14)
If, through the gift of salvation, God chooses only to see Jesus in us, and “Jesus” does not extend His grace, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to the “least of these”, can God truly see Jesus at all? And, if God indeed can not, what hope is there for the world to see?