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Declared and Growing - NCC 32

New City Catechism  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  32:37
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Merlin Carothers, author of the book Prison to Praise, had firsthand experience of what it is like to be declared righteous. During World War II, he joined the army. Anxious to get into some action, Carothers went AWOL but was caught and sentenced to five years in prison. Instead of sending him to prison, the judge told him he could serve his term by staying in the army for five years. The judge told him if he left the army before the five years ended, he would have to spend the rest of his term in prison. Carothers was released from the army before the five-year term had passed, so he returned to the prosecutor’s office to find out where he would be spending the remainder of his sentence. To his surprise and delight, Carothers was told that he had received a full pardon from President Truman. The prosecutor explained: “That means your record is completely clear. Just as if you had never gotten involved with the law.”

Well, we have come to our 32nd q&a in the new city catechism which reads:

Question 32 What do justification and sanctification mean?

Justification means our declared righteousness before God. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness.
Both definitions involve the word righteous - The quality, state, and characteristic of being in the right.
We will begin by breaking these down into the two separate terms tonight and bring them together as we close.
Turn with me please to Romans 3:20-30
As you read through the first several chapters of Romans, you find pretty quickly that Paul is on a role when it comes to laying out our need of salvation and God’s means of providing that need.
In Romans 1, Paul declares that the righteous will live by faith and that God’s wrath abides on the unrighteous.
In Romans 2, Paul explains how God is completely right in how and who He judges because He is God. He also highlights that Jews and Gentiles are equally guilty before God.
In Romans 3, Paul takes his defense of God’s judgement a step further explaining that all are sinners but God’s righteousness is applied to those who believe in faith.
We pick up in v. 20...
Romans 3:20–30 KJV 1900
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
v. 20 - Paul gives the purpose of the Law - to bring about our knowledge of our sin.
v. 21 - “But now”, expresses God’s complete revealed plan in Jesus. Something that wasn’t fully understood beforehand, but was taught.
When was it taught previously?
By the law and the prophets. Righteousness by faith was always God’s plan.
v. 22 - This right standing is extended to all who believe. - there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek.
v. 23 - There is no difference, because all come short of God’s perfection.
v. 24 - We are justified by grace (demerited favor) through the redemption that is in Christ.
Acts 4:12 NKJV
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
v. 25 - God set it up, that this Jesus would be the propitiation (payment) by the shedding of his blood. His sacrifice was sufficient because He is righteous.
Further, His righteousness was for the remission of sins that were past, showing the forbearance of God. Meaning - those who lived in sin before Christ were saved by faith, just like us, but prior to the sacrifice. God was patient with them, knowing the ultimate plan that Christ would fulfill.
v. 26 - Christ is just (right in judgement) and the justifier of those who believe, THEREFORE
v. 27 - How could we boast.
We aren’t justified by holding up the law of works. We simply live by the law (principles) of faith.
Therefore, Paul says
v. 28 - we are justified (declared right before God) apart from the works of the law
vv. 29-30 - Regardless of background - God justifies those who come to him in faith.
So, justification means our declared righteousness before God. - Not by our own doing, but because of the finished work of Christ. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
If then, we are declared righteous by faith because of God’s grace, it is His Grace too that enables our gradual growth in righteousness.
Paul explains this process further in Romans 6:15-23
Romans 6:15–23 KJV 1900
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
v. 15 - So we know according to the previous chapters in Romans that we are under grace. Not held to a list of requirements for a right standing before God. Therefore since we are considered right, and that won’t change, then I will just go live in sin - Paul says, God forbid!
vv. 16-20 - Paul breaks sanctification down in to one simple truth - submission.
Which part of your personhood are you going to submit to?
To your flesh?
v. 21 says the end of that choice is death
To the Spirit?
v. 22
Romans 6:22 NKJV
22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
v. 23 - the cost of living in sin is death - that’s all your flesh can produce
The cost of choosing to submit to God is everlasting life.
Sanctification then is that gradual growing process that is enabled by God’s grace that is the continual choice to submit to His leading.

Question 32 What do justification and sanctification mean?

Justification means our declared righteousness before God. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness.
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