Justification versus Sanctification

by TheListener 12 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Narkissos


    Since Jesus died for all people wouldn't everyone be justified, perhaps even at birth? Since justification is the legal term it seems that it would cover us in Jehovah's eyes from the time of our sinful birth.

    If justification doesn't occur automatically when we become living beings when does it occur? Does justification only occur when we put faith in the ransom sacrifice? Then those that don't believe in christ's ransom sacrifice aren't justified? Does that mean Christ didn't die for all, but only for those who believe?

    The legal notion of justification is particular and most likely original to Paul (and echoed with some drifts of meaning in post-Pauline literature, whether friendly e.g. Acts 13:38f or hostile to Paul, James 2:21,24f). It is linked to faith (Romans 3:26,28 etc.) and its formal confession (or public declaration, in the NWT) at baptism (cf. Romans 6:1ff). Paul doesn't really mention the "justification" of non-believers, but it is a possible development within the potentially universal scope of salvation (cf. Romans 11:32).

    Sanctification; it seems that most of the reading I've done shows it to occur, or at least begin, at baptism. Although I would say that baptism isn't necessarily mandatory (acts 10:44-48).

    In some of Paul's greetings (ephesians 1:1 for example) he greets the Holy Ones (saints; hagiazo) and the believers (pisto). Would these believers be baptized or unbaptized? Can a baptized believer not be a Holy one because they haven't been begotten by the holy spirit?

    As I said earlier the notions / metaphors of justification and sanctification are different, but that doesn't mean they are not applied simultaneously to the same persons. Note the parallelism in 1 Corinthians 6:11:

    you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
  • Terry

    The standard of measurement for quality, purity and utility is God's opinion.

    The old testament makes behavior the focus of God's opinion vis a vis his laws.

    The new testament makes conscience (how you think and feel) the focus of God's opinion.

    The old testament (pre-Greek influence) is concerned with enforcement policy.

    The new testament (neo-Platonic) makes a distinction between mind and body in terms of transcendence. (i.e. becoming the same nature as God.)

    The best you could achieve in the old testament is ritual expunging of your debts to God and man. Tit for tat (law of the Talon) put a price on everything in terms of payment or exactments (fines/penalties).

    The new testament made man the focus of an overhaul and refurbishment program to renovate his entire attitude and place him on equal footing with god in terms of purity.

    All in all, the new testament has accomodated Greek thought by osmosis. The old testament did not have to account for a soul or spirit the way the new testament did.

    Paul performed the transformation by introducing theories of exchange between the two philosophies (Hebrew/Greek).

    You did not have to be a physical Jew. You could be a "spiritual Jew". You did not have to be physically circumcised. You could have a "heart (emotion) circumcision. Etc. etc.

    Paul skillfully gave people an avenue of approach to God that abandoned primitive tribal ritualism (using Jesus as the annullment).

    Old testament "justification" was replaced by new testament "sanctification". However, it was always a matter of God's opinion.

    The procedures changed; that's all.

  • M.J.


    yes, there are those who apply those "all" statements to a universalist theology. (to a limited extent this includes Russell's Bible Students)

    Then there are those who vehemently oppose such a notion.

    I haven't researched that but you could probably find compelling arguments on both sides.

    Like Narkissos hinted at, it really does seem like the NT canon could be a little more consistent on this question to eliminate the ambiguity...but it is what it is. Ever hear of that uncanonical book (I think it was the "Apocalypse of Peter" but someone will set me straight if it isn't) where it says that even people who go to Hell still will be saved in the end? If nothing else it may illustrate that there were varied views on the whole subject even among Christians in the early 2nd century...

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