It is no secret that I am not a fan of so many of the songs now being sung in our churches today. It is called praise music; but most is little more than not very good Rock&Roll songs. Compared to so many of the great hymns they are mostly lacking in any real biblical meaning. But that is another topic. However, one of those really great old hymns is Rock of Ages. The first verse of that hymn is as follows:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
I want to draw attention to the last line, there, that is, “Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from its guilt and power.” I doubt that most people singing that song even thought about or even less understands what that line says. The hymn in that third line calls upon the blood of Christ to “be of sin the double cure”. So what is to be understood by that? Well first it seems apparent that there is a “double trouble” that needs a “double cure”. What is the double trouble? The hymn itself identifies that as the guilt and power of sin.
On the one hand, sin makes us guilty. Guilt is a wrong relationship with the law of God, involving the liability to punishment. On the other hand, sin gives a sinful or depraved nature. It infects the spirit (and the body) with spiritual weakness and corruption.
Now because the sinner’s problem is twofold -- a “double trouble”, grace as the content of salvation must also be twofold -- a “double cure”. The first aspect of salvation received by the believing, penitent sinner is justification, which solves the problem of guilt and removes all punishment. God as Judge declares that the penalty for sin no longer applies to us. The second aspect of salvation, resulting from the gift of the indwelling Spirit, consists of the divine works of regeneration and sanctification. God as Physician cures the disease of sin that afflicts our natures, thus resolving the problem of spiritual corruption and restoring us to spiritual wholeness.
We may think of justification both as a specific act of God upon the sinner by virtue of which the sinner passes from the lost state to the saved state, and as the continuing state in which the saved person exists. The Christian may say both “I have been justified” (the act), and “I am justified” (the state). Our main concern here is the act. Justification means something God does. Indeed, it means a very specific thing God does. It is true that God also regenerates, sanctifies, and glorifies; but these are not the same as justification. Justification has a distinct meaning. What is this meaning? The noun usually translated “justification” is dikaiosis; the verb “to justify” is dikaioo. These terms are from the same word family as “righteous” (dikaios) and “righteousness” (dikaiosyne), which suggests that justification has something to do with righteousness. The problem is to identify the proper connection between them.
“To justify” means not to make righteous, but to declare righteous, to count or accept as righteous. The state of justification is not an ever-increasing holiness of character, but a complete right legal standing before the law of God and a freedom from the law’s penalty. To count or accept as righteous is the specific words that Paul used in speaking about Abraham being justified by faith. He said, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness" (Rom 4:3). Paul went on to describe what this meant when he quoted David from Psalm 32:1-2; Paul said, "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin" (Rom 4:7-8).
A great deal more can be said about justification, but I will leave it there for now. Under the New Covenant salvation is more than forgiveness of sins. As I noted above, sin causes two basic problems for sinners, the “double trouble”. It makes us guilty and produces an inner sickness, weakness or corruption of the spirit. As I explained above, God’s gracious salvation includes a remedy for each of these problems. In the first part of this “double cure,” justification or forgiveness solves the problem of our guilt. But if that were all there is to salvation, we would still be weak and helpless and held down by the chains of sin. We would be unable to make much headway in conquering our sinful habits, tendencies, and desires.
But maybe that does not matter. After all, if we are justified by grace through faith, are works even necessary? Do we still have to obey God’s commands? Does it really matter whether we keep on sinning or not (Rom 6:1)? We can understand how some may be prompted to ask such questions, since the gospel of grace is so amazing, even radical, when compared with ordinary concepts. But, of course, sin still matters! How could anyone even think otherwise (Rom 6:2)? This is why God has made provision not only to remove our guilt, but also to restore our sin-weakened natures to a state of spiritual life and health. This is the second part of the “double cure” in which God destroys sin’s power over us and makes us pure.
The remedy by which God accomplishes this begins with an event usually called regeneration, and continues with a process usually called sanctification. This aspect of salvation is very different from justification. Whereas justification is an objective, legal change in our relationship to God’s law, regeneration and sanctification references out inward behavior.
Regeneration is an instantaneous, onetime event that happens in the moment of conversion. Here I am using the term conversion to mean that moment when a sinner passes from his lost state into the saved state. Viewed as to its cause, regeneration is a divine act, a work that God the Holy Spirit performs upon the sinful soul. Viewed as to its effect, regeneration is an inward change in the sinner’s very nature. This is not a legal change, though the change (justification) does occur at the same moment as regeneration. Nor is it simply a moral change, i.e., a voluntary change of mind and heart that the sinner himself accomplishes through an act of his own will as motivated by the gospel. Such a moral change (faith and repentance) occurs prior to regeneration and is a prerequisite for it, but it is not the same as regeneration and cannot of its own power produce regeneration. Rather, regeneration is a metaphysical change, a change that takes place within the very essence of the soul.
Regeneration is an event that happens in a single moment, but its effects are meant to be eternal. It is the beginning point for a process that lasts throughout this life and reaches perfection in heaven. This process is usually called sanctification. The term “sanctification” is part of the word family having to do with holiness. The OT word for “holy” (qadosh) most likely comes from a word that means “to cut, to divide, to separate.” Thus a holy person or thing is one that is separated or set apart from others.
In the NT the main adjective for “holy” is hagios. Variations are the verb hagiazo, “to make holy, to set apart or consecrate, to sanctify”; and the noun hagiasmos, “holiness, sanctification, consecration.” Thus sanctification is basically the same concept as holiness. We should also note that the adjective hagios is often used as a noun, i.e., “holy one.” When used thus of Christians, it is usually translated “saint.”
For Christians there are two main aspects of sanctification, corresponding to the two senses in which God is holy. The first aspect may be called initial sanctification, which refers to the onetime event in which the unsaved person joins the ranks of the saved, the moment in which he is set apart from the world as such, from his old way of life, and from “this present evil age” (Gal 1:4). It is a change of status or change of position in relation to God and in relation to the world. It transfers the sinner from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of Christ (Col 1:13). Just as God in his ontological holiness is ever set apart from and distinct from the creation as such, so does the sinner in his conversion transcend the old (sinful and condemned) creation and become identified with the new creation (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:10). This act of initial sanctification is mentioned in 1 Cor 6:11, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” That it is a onetime event; it is a completed past action. It is not equivalent to regeneration, but it is the result of regeneration and of the justification mentioned here. Being justified and regenerated is the very thing that sets the Christian apart from the world of unsaved sinners. That this initial sanctification is not due to our own efforts is also clear from this verse; it occurs only through the power of Jesus’ name and through the power of the Spirit. Indeed, it may correspond to the concept of being sealed with the Spirit (Eph 1:13; 2 Cor 1:22). A seal is a mark of ownership; thus, the Spirit’s presence marks Christians as being set apart from the rest of the world and belonging to God. See 1 Peter 1:1-2.
Everyone who has been thus washed, sanctified, and justified is a saint, a holy one, a separated one. Saints are not an elite group of especially righteous Christians; every member of the body of Christ is a saint, a set-apart one (Acts 9:13,32; Rom 1:7; 15:25-26; 1 Cor 1:2; Phil 1:1), sanctified in this initial sense.
The second aspect of sanctification may be called progressive sanctification, because it is the ongoing process in which the Christian becomes more and more separated from sin itself. This aspect of sanctification is not a change in status or relationships, but a continuing transformation of our inward character and mental attitudes, as well as our outward behavior and conduct. This is how we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18), and “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). In this aspect of sanctification, we become more and more like God in righteousness and holiness of truth (Eph 4:22-24). Our pattern and goal are God’s own holiness, as we are commanded to imitate his perfect moral character: “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet 1:15-16). As Jesus says it, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Our goal is to “share His holiness” (Heb 12:10) or to “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4) in this moral sense. We are to purify ourselves, even as he is pure (1 John 3:3). See Luke 1:75; Rom 6:19,22; 2 Cor 6:14–7:1; 1 Thess 3:13; 4:7.
There is really so much more to be said about justification and sanctification, but this is already too long and probably will not be read by most.
It is however my brief answer that I promised yogi. I want all to know that much of this I have taken from Jack Cottrell in his excellent book, "The Faith Once For All", available from College Press Publishing Company.