The Bible teaches that a believer receives justification through faith in Christ. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 also Acts 16:30-31; John 5:24). By faith the believer simply accepts God’s free gift of salvation that was offered by Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross (John 3:16). This is an instant experience where God wipes away all past sins and the believer stands justified before the Holy God.
Justification leads to sanctification, which takes place when a person holds to Christ daily by study of the Word and prayer. “For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:5). Thus, the believer cooperates with God’s power. The Christian will allow the Lord to do His will in his life. The only way he stops this process is to cut himself off deliberately and disconnects himself from the Lord. Sanctification is synonymous with the doctrine of “imparted righteousness.”
Sanctification is a life time process. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). God is not interested only in forgiving our past sins. He is mainly interested in restoring us to His holy image (Genesis 1:27).
Restoration can be achieved only through faith in Jesus Christ. “And the God of all grace… will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10). Therefore, justification cannot be separated from the transforming experiences of the New birth and the succeeding growth in sanctification.
The justification in Ephesians 2:8,9 should not be interpreted to mean that a person who has been justified is thus freed from obeying the law or from doing good deeds. The faith by which he has been justified will surely manifest itself in obedience to God. Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
And Paul repeatedly stressed the importance of good works in the life of the believer (1 Timothy 5:10; 6:18; 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 2:7, 14; 3:8; etc.). But he made it similarly clear that these good deeds do not earn justification (Romans 4:2, 6; 9:32; 11:6; Galatians 2:16; 3:2, 5, 10; Ephesians 2:9; 2 Timothy 1:9). They are simply the fruit of it (Galatians 5:22-23).
In His service,