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Frank Jamerson

   A creed says: “They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word  and  Spirit  dwelling  in  them…Although sanctification (is) inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other it is subdued…” (Presbyterian Confession of Faith, 1956 edition, pg. 40,123). This doctrine is sometimes called “the second work of grace.” The first work is justification and the second is sanctification.

   In order to understand the Bible teaching on this subject we must have a clear definition of the two words. Justification is defined as “the act of pronouncing righteous” (W.E. Vine). His basic definition of sanctification is “separation to God.” Obviously, the  words describe two aspects of salvation, but they do not describe a first and second work of grace. Is a person  pronounced righteous (justified) at one point and separated to God (sanctified) at a different point?

   Notice some things the Bible says were sanctified, or made holy. Moses was “standing on holy ground” (Ex. 3:5), the temple was called “the holy place” (Mt. 24:15) and Jerusalem was “the holy city” (Mt. 27:53). There were various times that were called sanctified, or holy: the Sabbath (Dt. 5:12), and the fiftieth year (Lev. 25:10-12).  People were called holy, or sanctified: the firstborn of men (also of animals, Ex. 13:2), the priests (Ex. 28:41), the nation of Israel (Dt. 7:6), and Christians in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2).

   When is a person sanctified or set apart? Jesus said the Corinthians were “washed...sanctified… justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). This did not mean that they could not commit sins (read 1 Cor. 1-3!), but they had been called by the gospel and “obtained the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:12,13).  He told the Ephesians that they had been sanctified and cleansed “by  the washing of  water by  the word” (Eph. 5:26).

   As a result of being justified (forgiven) and set apart from the world (sanctified) believers are to “grow in grace and knowledge” and “be holy in all your conduct” (1 Pet. 1:14,15; 2 Pet. 3:18), but that is not a “one...two” (or first and second) act. It is a continual process. The beloved apostle John said, “If we (that includes himself) say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8).

   The doctrine that those who receive “the second work of grace” (which they call sanctification) lose all desire to sin is contrary to the truth. We are forgiven (justified) and set apart (sanctified) and should “walk in the light as He is in the light” and if we do that and “confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:7-9).


                       Copyright Midway Church of Christ 2014    This page last modified July 03, 2014