Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 17 Number 8 August 2015
Page 2


Forgiveness, Justification & Sanctification


“Redemption” and “forgiveness” are synonyms. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). “Forgiveness” means “pardon” (Biblesoft’s).

Mortals must have a willingness to forgive their fellow men, or else God will not forgive those who are unwilling to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:35). An unwillingness to forgive others will render one’s prayers void (Mark 11:25-26). However, preceding forgiveness, sinners must repent. “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). We cannot truly forgive those who because of their impenitence God has not forgiven, but we must be willing to forgive. Those who have repented and have been forgiven by God, the child of God must forgive likewise. “This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him” (2 Corinthians 2:6-8).

Christians must be forgiving of one another as well (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). Consequently, when we also repent of our sins, God will forgive us of our sins, too. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The Christian’s forgiveness is obligatory toward those who repent. However, brethren often, by their actions, refuse to forgive the penitent; this must not be the case with the children of God. With what treatment we treat others, God will likewise treat us regarding our own sins (Matthew 7:2). The erring child of God can seek forgiveness through penitence and prayer (Acts 8:22), and the non-Christian can achieve forgiveness or salvation from past sins through faith followed by baptism (Mark 16:16).


Two related Greek words are translated with the English word “justification” three times in the New Testament (Romans 4:25; 5:16, 18). One of the Greek words (Romans 5:16), “dikaioma,” means “‎a statute or decision” (Biblesoft’s), and the other, “dikaiosis,“ means “acquittal” (Biblesoft’s). We are primarily interested in the latter, an acquittal for our sins only possible through the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25 KJV). “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Romans 5:18 NKJV).

Note, though, that the words “the free gift came” are not in the original and have been added. While justification can neither be purchased nor earned, it certainly is not free given the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made to make it possible. Furthermore, although in a sense justification is free to humanity, justification is only available conditionally. Only those who have been justified have received justification, and one is justified by “grace” (Romans 3:24; Titus 3:7), by “faith” (Romans 3:28; 5:1), by Christ’s “blood” (Romans 5:9), “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 6:11), by “Christ” (Galatians 2:17) and by “works” or active, obedient faith (James 2:21, 24-25).

Several principles work harmoniously together regarding the salvation of souls. Whereas “justification” is an acquittal for sins committed, “redemption” is a buying back of the sinner. Yet, we are saved by obedience (Hebrews 5:9) and by baptism (1 Peter 3:21).


The Greek “hagiasmos” is translated as “sanctification“ five times in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2). It means the state of purity (Biblesoft’s). “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Our Lord Jesus Christ is the source of true wisdom, of righteousness, of sanctification and of redemption. Almighty God desires you and me to be the personal recipients of wisdom from above, real righteousness, sanctification and eternal redemption. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). The sanctification of a soul is something that occurs through divine and human participation. Humans cannot be saved without the divine participation, and the Godhead will not save souls without human participation. The human side of the participation leading to sanctification manifests itself in “belief of the truth” and “obedience.” “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:2).

Precious souls are “sanctified by the truth” (John 17:19), “sanctified by faith in Me [Jesus]” (Acts 26:18), “sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:16), “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:2), “sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 10:10), by “the blood of the covenant” [Christ’s blood] (Hebrews 10:29) and “sanctified by God the Father” (Jude 1). Christians are those who have been sanctified (Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Corinthians 1:2). Synonyms for “sanctification” are “washed” and “justified” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

The “word of truth” is the key to human sanctification (John 17:17, 19). By it, our Lord has sanctified the church. “That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26). Jesus used His own blood in the process of sanctification. “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate” (Hebrews 13:12).

Many words speak to the salvation of souls and work together to provide a fuller and complete concept of human redemption. Those who are Christians are saved, justified, redeemed, sanctified, washed, etc.

Works Cited

Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.


Be Ye Holy

Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor

Rodney NulphAre you holy? Do you desire to be holy? It seems that holiness has become an “undesirable” lifestyle among many who profess Christianity today. In fact, holiness is sometimes looked down upon, evidenced by phrases like, “He thinks he is holier than Thou” or “He thinks he is just Mr. Holy.” While some may disdain holiness, God demands it of His followers! How does one become holy? Obviously, holiness begins at the point of complete obedience to the Gospel. However, many believe that holiness ends there as well. Holiness is the faithful Christian’s life-long pursuit. To scattered and dispersed Christians, God gave the divine recipe for pursuing holiness. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16).

Firstly, holiness is pursued by a change in one’s attitude. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” This imagery, “…gird up the loins of your mind…,” would have been common phraseology to first century saints. The picture here is that of a person attempting to engage in a serious race, which would be impeded by the long flowing garments that were customary of Eastern culture. To “gird up the loins” was to “pull up” the garment so as to be able to properly and successfully compete. Here, this imagery is used of “girding up…the mind.” There is a change in our thinking that must take place in pursuing holiness. We take seriously, hence, “be sober,” this race that will end at “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Holy people think differently (Philippians 4:8)!

Secondly, holiness is pursued by a change in one’s actions. “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.” Simply stated, holy people do not live like they once did! Holiness demands that we live “obediently.” Sadly, far too many believe that they can live holy on Sunday and live like the world the rest of the week; that type lifestyle is hypocrisy not holiness! We must be crucified to sin and the old lifestyle to which we were accustomed (Romans 6:1-6; Galatians 2:20). Holy people live differently!

Thirdly, holiness is pursued by a change in one’s authority. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” Holy people no longer listen to the status quo or to their own selfish lusts, but the authority by which they are governed is a higher authority. We strive to be holy because God has called us to be holy! That is reason enough. Since God has called me to be holy, I want to stay as far away from ungodliness as possible. Holy people obey differently!

God demands holiness of His followers. He always has (cf. Leviticus)! We are living in unholy times and in an unholy world. Holiness requires a daily pursuit to be “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). Are you holy? Do you desire to be? “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

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