robe the same appears,
When ruined nature sinks in years:
No age can change its constant hue;
Thy Blood preserves it ever new.
“Oh let the dead now hear Thy voice;
Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice!
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness.”
In the last chapter we showed that the doctrine of justification deals with the sinner’s change of relation, or change of state.
We also learned that faith is the instrumental or applying cause of justification. In another place we showed that true faith presupposes penitence, and this again presupposes a sense and knowledge of sin. Again we showed that penitence and faith are the two essential elements of conversion; that where these elements are found there is a change of heart, and the beginning of a new life. This new life is, however, only in its germ. These are the beginnings of new views, new affections, new actions, a new life.
They are of a germinal or seed character. Now it belongs to the very nature of life to develop, increase, and make progress. And it is this development or growth of the new life that we wish now to consider. It is called sanctification, or growth of the soul into the image of a holy God.
It is closely related to justification, and yet clearly distinct from it. In justification, God imputes or counts over to the sinner the righteousness of Christ. In sanctification, God imparts the righteousness of the new life. Justification is what God does for the believer; sanctification is what His Spirit does in him. Justification being purely an act of God, is instantaneous and complete; sanctification being a work in which man has a share, is progressive. Justification takes away the guilt of sin; sanctification gradually takes away its power. Sanctification begins with justification. So soon as the sinner believes he is justified; but just so soon as he believes, he also has the beginnings of a new life.
In time, therefore, the two come together; but in thought they are distinct. And it is of the greatest importance that these distinctions be understood and kept in mind. It is by confounding justification with sanctification, and vice versa, that all the flagrant, soul-destroying errors concerning the so-called “higher life,” “sinless perfection,” etc., are promulgated and believed. It is by quoting Scripture passages that speak of justification, and applying them to sanctification, that this delusion is strengthened. How often have we not heard that precious passage, 1 John i. 7, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin,” quoted to prove entire sanctification. Now, if we understand the Scriptures at all, that passage speaks of the forgiveness of sin through the efficacy of Christ’s blood, and not of overcoming sin in the believer, or eradicating its very fibres and impulses.