Does justification mean becoming instantly perfect?  

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Justification and Sanctification

Some wrongly appropriate the benefits of justification to the process of sanctification (reaching towards perfection) because the difference between the two terms is not clear to them. The Bible teaches that a person receives instant Justification (clearance) for all his past sins when he accepts by faith Jesus Christ as a personal Savior. At this point, God declares that person righteous (Romans 3:28; 5:1).

Justification then is followed by Sanctification, which is a progressive process of cleansing by the Holy Spirit to overcome all sins (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Peter 1:2). The Holy Spirit does not reveal all the weaknesses of the person at one time but rather leads the believer step by step to towards perfection.

Therefore, when the Holy Spirit convicts the believer of a certain sin, he must immediately confess, repent, and forsake it by God’s power. The goal of sanctification is to reflect God’s image (Genesis 1:26,27) in the Christian’s life (2 Corinthians 3:18). For more on the difference between justification and sanctification, check the following link.

Perfection of Character

Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The word perfect in Greek is “teleios,” which literally means, “one who has reached the goal.” In Matthew 5:48, Jesus does not speak of absolute sinlessness at conversion. For example, the Bible states that Job was “perfect” (Job 1:1). This word does not necessarily imply absolute sinlessness. But it signifies, rather, completeness, integrity, sincerity.

At each stage, as the Christian yields to the convictions of the Holy Spirit and obeys what the Lord reveals to him, he will be found perfect in God’s sight. Thus, the man who is “perfect” is the one, who has reached the degree of spiritual development that Heaven expects of him at any given time. Jesus Himself hinted that the representation of belief should be adapted to the various stages of Christian growth (John 16:12).

The apostle Paul speaks of “them that are perfect” (1 Corinthians 2:6) and of “as many as be perfect” (Philippians 3:15). At the same time, he realizes that there are new heights to gain and that he himself has not reached the ultimate perfection. “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13). The apostle’s goal was the divine standard held before him.

Yielding to the Holy Spirit

The key point in the work of character development is daily submission to the Lord. In an effort to reach God’s goal of perfection, the Christian should grow daily in knowledge of the truth. This requires a continual feeding upon the spiritual “milk” (Hebrews 5:12, 13). He must keep his relationship with Christ strong through daily study of the Bible and prayer. Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).

What the Lord wants from us is ‘perfect’ love. If we love Him so much that we would rather die than deliberately disobey like Daniel (Daniel 6), that kind of trust and love is Christian perfection. Abraham loved the Lord over any other human relationships, and this was shown when the Lord asked him to offer his son Isaac (Genesis 22:12). This strong connection to the Lord or walking in the Spirit like Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22) is Christian perfection.

Is Victory Over Sin Possible?

With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). God supplies the believer with all the grace he needs to have perfect love at every stage in his Christian walk. Paul declared, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). When God’s commands are followed, the Lord makes Himself responsible for the triumph of the work of cleaning in the life of the believer. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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