07 June 2014

Justification and Sanctification

Both justification and sanctification have many elements in common and are part of the same process of helping us come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. Both require the atoning sacrifice of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And both require that His grace be imparted upon us. Both are on-going processes rather than a single event—although there appears to be a time, in the future, when both justification and sanctification are imparted in a fuller and more complete way upon a person who has been faithful and endured to the end.

Justification seems to be related to specific human acts revolving around what we do, say and think. For instance, anything we do, if we do it in righteousness—or often even with a righteous desire which falls short of righteousness (through God’s tender mercies and loving kindness)—may be justified by the Holy Ghost. This may be any brief and finite action we take, such as giving a talk at Church, bearing a testimony, forgiving someone who has hurt us, speaking a word in kindness, feeding the poor, or showing mercy.  

We often feel the strong presence of the Spirit at those times, confirming that our offering before the Lord has been accepted. For instance, if we share a testimony humbly and teach by the Spirit “the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say” (D&C 100:8b). I believe that usually we will also receive a confirmation by that same Spirit, “Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together” (D&C 50:22). Longer efforts may, in the same way, be justified or be accepted by the Lord, such as serving a mission, magnifying a Church calling, being faithful in our employment, or having a temple sealing ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Of course, we are not aware of all the positive effects of our actions in this life. To summarize, then, it is what we do together with the eternal effects of the atonement of Christ—wherein the imperfection in our offering is coupled with the perfection in His Holy offering—that brings about justification, or the acceptance of this offering we brought to the Lord.  

While justification has to do with a stamp of approval—or the acceptance of our offering before the Lord—sanctification appears to be the long process wherein we are transformed into a different, holier being. Wherein we begin to become like the person we hope to someday be. Like justification, we can never do this on our own merits. Rather, it is through the grace of Christ as the result of His holy expiatory sacrifice, after we “have expended [our] own best efforts” (Grace, LDS Bible Dictionary), that we are slowly changed or sanctified that we may in time enter into the presence of the Father. Satan attempts to discourage our efforts by pointing out our weaknesses. Yet the Holy One of Israel is continually inviting us to turn unto Him, put our trust in Him and become His disciples. As with justification, we also have manifestations of the spirit—such as a great joy and feelings of gratitude—that help us understand that indeed this transformation is beginning to take place.    

1 comment:

Terry said...

The Book of Mormon prophet, Lehi, told his righteous son Jacob: "Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men" (2 Nephi 2:3). Lehi said that Jacob would be redeemed because Christ is righteous. He did not say that Jacob would be redeemed because Jacob was righteous.

Lehi continues, "Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered... There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise" (2 Nephi 2:6-8). Lehi explains that we will be saved through the merits, and grace and mercy of Christ. Our merits will never save us. Only Christ's merits and His grace will. His merits will save us; He asks us to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit.