“For those God foreknew
he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son.”
That verse in Romans sets the bar pretty high, does it not? The way Peter puts it is “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
Our salvation is a process of gradual and lifelong transformation into Christ’s image. The big theological word for this wonder is sanctification, which John Piper defines as:
“….progressively becoming like Jesus. Gradually becoming like Jesus, or becoming holy. Becoming conformed to the image of Christ. Little by little, over time — from conversion till Jesus comes back, or you die — you are in the process of sanctification, becoming sanctified, becoming holy.”
This coming Sunday, Kenny Clark will show how Peter links our salvation with behavior (the actions that set us apart), proving that we are indeed “aliens and strangers.”
The question is often raised, “I thought we are justified. If we’re declared righteous in the sight of God, then why is sanctification necessary?”
C. H. Spurgeon had a helpful explanation of how these two relate to each other:
“Justification is by faith alone. It was while we were yet enemies that we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son; it was while we were ungodly, while we were sinners. There is no question about that; it is a cardinal doctrine, a first great principle.
“But justification is only one step, an initial step, in a process. And the process includes not only justification but regeneration and sanctification and ultimate glorification. Justification and forgiveness of sins are not ends in and of themselves; they are only steps on a way that leads to final perfection. And that is the whole answer to the problem.
“Some Christians persist in isolating these things, but they are not isolated in the Scriptures. “Whom he called, them he also justified and whom he justified, them he also glorified!” “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption!”
“There is the whole process. And the truth is, that if you are in it at all, you are in at every point. We cannot divorce justification and forgiveness from other parts of truth. And the remaining steps are put very clearly before us in the First Epistle to the Corinthians: “Such”, says the Apostle, having given his terrible list of sins — “Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).”