A person, who have been corrupted by sins, can have his sins washed away when he accepts by faith Christ’s death on his behalf. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). And when in gratitude, he confesses, forsakes and repents of his sins ( Romans 3:24–26; 4:3, 5), the Father justifies him from his sins and he stands innocent before Him (Romans 4:8). This is the negative side of justification, the forgiving of past sin.
The positive side of justification (Romans 4:3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 22) is the believer’s realization that God has not only washed away his sin but has also given to him the righteousness of Christ which fills him with joy and hope for the future. For he sees that the Lord is concerned with his forgiveness and also with his restoration of fellowship.
God desires to treat the believer as if he had never sinned. Therefore, from that point on the sinner is to be treated as God’s child (1 John 3:1, 2). When the Father sees the transformed sinner, He only sees the pure garment of Christ’s righteousness with which the repentant sinner has been dressed, and not his sin-stained rob of sin (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:17–19, 21; Hebrews 9:15; 1 Peter 2:24).
Then, the justified sinner gets baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). For baptism by immersion is the outward sign of his inward experience of removal of sin. By this act, the sinner places his faith in the atoning blood of Christ for cleansing and redemption (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:14, 22; 1 John 1:7, 9; Revelation 1:5). Baptism is the sign of a self-renunciation, of the death of the old man and of his burial in the watery grave.
The Lord has done everything possible for the reconciliation of the sinner. Now the sinner knows that the perfect character of Christ, which has been imputed to him in justification, will from now on be imparted to him in sanctification which is the change in his character to resemble the character of God. This process of sanctification is a lifelong process of growth in grace and the knowledge of God (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).
Thus, while justification deals mainly with the past, sanctification represents the start of a new life of love and obedience. A Christian has been called out of the world to serve God. He has been “washed” and made acceptable to the Father through faith in the cleansing blood of His Son. As his sins have been forgiven, the Holy Spirit through the Word of God begins the work of developing in him a character like that of Christ (Romans 7:24, 25; 8:1–4, 11; 12:1, 2). Thus, the believer is under a moral obligation to live a life of continual obedience to God’s will (Revelation 14:12; John 15:14).
In His service,