How to Live the Victorious Life

2. Psychologically

Justification and sanctification are psychologically related. We may expect that He who made and understands man's nature will work to save him in a way best suited to his deepest psychological needs.

A life of sanctification (fellowship with God) is not possible unless we are first persuaded that we are acceptable and pleasing to God. This persuasion cannot be grounded on our past, present or future performance. God wants us first to know that He is fully satisfied with Jesus. He has found Him righteous, and with Him He is well pleased. What is that to us? Christ is our Representative. He bears our humanity in the presence of God, and God wants us to know that He accepts our humanity in the Person of His Son. In this matter of acceptance, therefore, it is sufficient for us to know that Jesus is accepted. It is this faith which enables us to serve God freely, gladly, and out of spontaneous love. If a believer tries to live the Christian life to either secure or consolidate his acceptance with God, immediately the springs of free, grateful and spontaneous obedience are dried up. God is more interested in the motive of service than the actual performance. When justification by faith is lost, we can only work in the Father's vineyard like the "elder son" in the parable of the prodigal. God's authority is on our backs instead of in our hearts. We keep a careful check on the years of "faithful" service. And we are more in the pigpen than the younger son who is away in the "far country."

Since love is the essence of sanctification (Rom. 13:10), we should remember the teaching of Jesus that he who is forgiven much (justification), the same loves much (sanctification) (see Luke 7:40-47). He who hears the word of justification ("Neither do I condemn thee . . .") is the only one psychologically qualified to obey the command of sanctification (". . . go, and sin no more") (see John 8:3-11).

Says W.G.T. Shedd:
    The strongest inducement for a Christian to obey the divine law, is the fact that he has been graciously pardoned for having broken the law. He follows after sanctification, because he has received justification. He obeys the law, not in order to be forgiven, but because he has been forgiven. 2 Cor. 5:4, "The love of Christ constraineth us not to live unto ourselves, but unto him which died for us." And the love meant, is Christ's redeeming love. 2 Cor. 7:1, "Having these promises [of forgiveness], let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." Because God has blotted out all his past sin, the believer has the most encouraging of all motives to resist all future sin. Had God not pardoned the past, it would be futile to struggle in the future. — William G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology.
Justification also frees the soul for true Christian service. Dr. W.H. Griffith Thomas puts this well:
    It [justification] is also the secret of true spiritual service. The soul released from anxiety about itself, is free to exercise concern about others. The heart is at leisure from itself to set forward the salvation of those around. — W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles, p. 194.
Intro | Legally | Psychologically | Effectively | Positionally | Examples | Need | Principles | Conclusion
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