Let’s take a closer look at Romans 5:1-5 together…
v1 – “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”
According to this verse, when are we at peace with God? In the moment that we are justified by putting our faith, our trust, our hope in Jesus and in His saving work on our behalf. We are saved, reconciled, restored – we made right with God in that moment.
v2 – “…through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”
So for those of us who have put our faith in Jesus, here we stand – on the right-hand side of the vertical white line. And in Him, we look forward to the day of glorification.
v3-5 – “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
There is a war raging on the right side of the line. There is a struggle within our soul: between our old sinful way of life and the new holy character that God’s Spirit is forming in us.
Some days – it is so hard. And other days, on this journey with Jesus, it is more amazing than we ever dreamed possible! What’s going on? Why does it feel like this?
- The old, sinful nature is dying – and it does not die easily
- The old claims that death and hell had on our souls have been broken – but they do not let go without first digging their claws in on their way out.
- Our old weaknesses to temptation – they do not like to go down without a fight.
But brothers & sisters, they WILL go down. And they do go out of our lives. And they will fully & finally die away in Jesus’ Name.
If we will continue leaning on Jesus, if we will continue to trust in Him with every area of our lives (Colossians 1:23) – just as we did with our initial moment of salvation when we were converted, regenerated, and justified – if we will surrender to, and cooperate with, the Spirit that has entered our lives through this process, then God tells us in His Word that
- He will graciously enable us to “work out our salvation” (Philippians 2:12),
- and to be “more than conquerors through Christ who loves us” (Romans 8:37),
- and to “give life & meaning & purpose & victory to our earthly, mortal existence” (Romans 8:11),
- and “to be transformed from glory into ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18),
- and to have both our “will and our conduct” transformed “according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
We Christians have one more big churchy word for all of this: this continual process of dying to our old sinful ways (Galatians 6:14) and of growing in holiness and victory. This continual process in the life of a believer is known as SANCTIFICATION.
This is the process by which God’s Spirit forms His holy character in us. And it can be quite a struggle. There is a war waging within our soul:
- The power of sin is waning(>), and the power of holiness is growing(<).
- The sin nature is dying off(>), and the spirit of adoption is being more fully realized(<).
- Our bondage to sin is being broken(<), and our freedom in Christ is growing in strength(<).
This white line here – at conversion & justification – it shows that there is a clear breaking point for the power of sin (Romans 6:11-14). But sin does not lose all its power immediately. Its power begins to diminish as soon as the believer submits his/her life to the Spirit that is now alive and at work within them – the Spirit of Christ that is redeeming them, strengthening them, setting them more & more & more free in Jesus.
Here, at this point of conversion & justification, the believer still has a long way to go to be entirely sanctified. But the journey has begun:
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation; the old things are passing away(>); behold, new things have come(<).” –2 Corinthians 5:17
So what is sanctification? It is the cooperative working between you and the Holy Spirit within you, where the power of sin diminishes unto death, and the power of the Spirit grows into abundant life.
It’s hard work, but it is what we were made for. And the promise of Jesus is that He will help us do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
We talk a lot about needing to care for our own souls, and that’s true. But no one cares more for your soul than Father God. He cares even more about our soul’s health than we do! He paid for your rescue before you even existed (Romans 5:6-11). Your soul-care is a cooperative work between you and the One who made you, and He cares more for you than you can fathom!