Salvation is, of course, the process of being rescued or delivered. In the teachings of Jesus, there if, in fact, three salvations, although, we generally focus on one. The first is being saved from the penalty of sin. The second is being saved from the power and effects of sin in this life. The third is being saved from the power and effects of sin for all time. The theological words for these processes are respectively: justification, sanctification, and glorification.
Each of the processes follows the order given above. A person will never need to “clean up their act” in order to be justified. A person will always be going to through the power and effects of sin in this life. Defeating sin for all time will only come at the end.
Some people become concerned that the process of justification will be reversed because they continue to experience the process of sanctification, and the process is unsuccessful. In other words, “God is going to get mad at me, because I keep falling into sin. He is going to revoke his justification, if I don’t stop falling into ‘ABC.’”
There are several false assumptions here. One, “ABC” is somehow a worse sin than all the others. Condemnation before God’s law comes from breaking God’s law … any part of God’s law. People especially think about this concerning certain addictive or sexual sins. Sins is sin. God does not tolerate any wrong doing. God condemns all wrong doing.
People talk about all sorts of addictions nowadays. Alcohol, drugs, sex, and gambling are the most common. But addictions also include: aspirin, adrenaline, attention, work, hoarding, food, shopping, television, video games, and money. Evidently, if something exists, people can get addicted to it.
The truth is, there is only one addiction. People are addicted to sin. And they will continue to be addicted to sin until Jesus returns. If we are not addicted to one thing, we will be addicted to another. If we are not addicted to opium, then maybe it’s adrenalin or endorphins.
Two, God is somehow surprised or unable to deal with all this sin. God has a solution for sin. It is called “grace.”
Let’s not be mistaken. I am not saying we should ignore sin, or not be serious about sin. I am saying we should be more serious about the gospel and grace.
Understanding and living in our salvation is a defense against the devil. He wants us to view God as a harsh judge. He want us to live in fear. He wants us to focus on ourselves as failures, and our inability to live right, instead of God, others and God’s grace, given to live right lives.
Sanctification is a process that will take all our lives. And at the end of our lives, we will still have not made it. But God continues to work with us. God continues to be active in our lives. If God is still active, still encouraging right behavior of any sort, then God is still encouraged with us. God still believes we will make progress. God believes in us. And we should believe in, what God believes.