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Questions in this section...

How is a person justified?

What shows that I am forgiven?

Was the person in Romans 7 converted or not?

Could I be condemned by birth with no hope?

What is justification and sanctification?


Question: How is a person justified?

“I would like to know about justification by faith; how one is justified.”

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“We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28) We are justified by faith, by believing that God can and will forgive us (make us innocent) if we confess our sins to Him. (1 John 1:9) We cannot be justified by keeping the law. We keep the law, not to be saved, but because we are saved. Obedience is the fruit of faith. Keeping the law can never save anyone, but not keeping the law can cause a person to be lost. (Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 22:14)

For a thorough study on this subject, please request the April 2000 issue of Present Truth and the tract “God’s Plan to Save You.”

This question and its answer were printed in the June 2001 issue of Present Truth.

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Question: What shows that I am forgiven?

“If you commit sin and pray to God for forgiveness, what are some of the things which will show that you are forgiven?”

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First of all, we must believe that God forgives us regardless of what outward signs indicate that He has forgiven us. God has promised that He will accept us if we come to Him. Jesus said, “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37) And John wrote, “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) We have these promises, and we can rely upon them 100%. It is “impossible for God to lie.” (Hebrews 6:18) When we come to Him we must believe that He accepts us because He has promised. When we do this we can never be lost, never.

However, there is a difference between presumption and faith. Faith is dependence upon the Word of God only to do what that Word says. Presumption is expecting that God will do something for us even though we have not met the requirements to receive what we expect to be done for us. One of the requirements for forgiveness is faith. We must “ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” (James 1:6, 7)

Another requirement is acknowledging that we have done wrong. David admitted to God, “I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalms 51:3) Another requirement is sorrow for sins. David wrote, “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” (Psalms 38:18) Another requirement is a determination to stop your sinful practice. Solomon wrote, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) If you have met these requirements, then you must believe with all your heart that God has heard your prayer and has forgiven your sins. Accept the pronouncement, “thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” (Isaiah 6:7)

This question and its answer were printed in the November 2001 issue of Present Truth.

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Question: Was the person in Romans 7 converted or not?

“Please help me. I have a problem about this chapter in Romans 7:1-25. I am confused about this chapter. Was this person convinced or was he in conviction? Was this person converted or not? Do unconverted people delight in the law of God? (Romans 7:22) When we look at verse 18 it looks like this person was convinced. Was he? While in verse 24 he cries for deliverance. This term “wretched” is used twice in the Bible—also in Revelation 3:17. What makes me say that this person was convinced is that you won’t see that you are wretched unless you are convinced. Please help me. I am confused.”

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You brought up some excellent questions: ones which have been debated over many times. If Romans chapter seven was all that was written about the gospel we would be left with no hope of victory in this life. This chapter portrays a man who wishes to do good, but finds no power in himself to do good, and continues to do evil instead. This is a very miserable condition, one which I can personally relate to, having been there myself. Fortunately, Paul does not end his letter to the Romans with chapter seven. Chapter eight really gives us the key to victory. Even at the close of chapter seven, after Paul cried out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” we read the following answer: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…” (Romans 7:24, 25)

Chapter eight begins with these words, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4) Here Paul contrasts the inability of the law to change a man with the power of Christ, through His Spirit, to transform a man. The difference is as high as heaven is above the earth. In chapter seven Paul described a man who knew what was right, and even wanted to do what was right but had not found the ability to do it. Paul was describing the condition of a man after he has been enlightened by the Spirit of God enough to realize he is a wretched sinner, but before he has fully surrendered to God, and found the power to overcome the sins that beset him.

I know this condition, because I experienced it during my conversion. Several years ago the Spirit of the Lord revealed to me my wicked condition. I had an overwhelming desire to give up my wicked habits, but I found myself lacking the power to overcome. I told all my friends that I had now decided to quit my evil habits, but over and over again I would find myself practicing the very things I  had decided to quit. I was horrified by how little strength I had to overcome my evil habits. At that time I was very ignorant about the Bible. I continued in this condition for about one month, after which my father gave me a little book entitled “Steps to Christ” that shed amazing light upon me, revealing to me how I could give my life to Christ and repent of my sins. From that point until now I have experienced the power of Christ in my life to overcome sin. I have committed sin since that day, for which God has graciously forgiven me, yet my life has been completely changed since I invited Christ into my heart.

After Paul described this intermediate condition between conviction and victory he wrote, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Romans 8:13) Paul in no way indicated that a Christian should be satisfied with the experience of Romans chapter seven. He continued his letter by showing the absolute necessity of moving out of Romans chapter seven into the victorious life of Romans chapter eight.

I hope this helps to answer your questions.

This question and its answer were printed in the February 2002 issue of Present Truth.

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Question: Could I be condemned by birth with no hope?

“I’m wondering if I might be one of the people who’s condemned regardless of what they do. I’ve seen several references to the fact of the Tribe of Dan being omitted from the 12 tribes in Revelation 7:5, and I am wondering if, being of Celtic descent which is likely to be the tribe of Dan, if I might be a condemned person by birthright. Do you have any thoughts on the omission of Dan from the tribes “sealed”?
    “There are also many verses stating or implying that those who God is pleased with are blessed with abundance—stated in different metaphors, and I’m certainly not blessed with abundance, so I do wonder sometimes if I’m just condemned from the get-go.”

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My dear friend, Jesus said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37) There is no such thing as a person who is condemned regardless of what they do. The Bible says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15) It also says of Christ that “he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

Christ paid for every sin of every individual who has ever lived, or ever will live, on this earth. It is not God that originated the idea that some are doomed no matter what they do, but this thought proceeds from the father of lies, the devil himself. We can accept Christ’s promise that if we come to Him He will not cast us out, and “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) These promises are not for a select few, but written for all. The Bible says that God’s righteousness is offered “unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22, 23) Don’t hesitate to come to Christ in faith, believing that what He said is true, and trusting that if you confess your sins He will forgive you as promised and accept you as His child.

Regarding the tribe of Dan being omitted from the list of the 144,000 that are sealed. These tribes of Israel mentioned are not literal tribes, for Paul wrote, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:27-29) The list of the twelve tribes in Revelation 7 are descriptions of characters rather than literal blood lines. The tribes of Dan and Ephraim are not mentioned, not because of who their parents are, but because the characters they represent are not permitted to enter heaven. If your character matches that of Dan, and you refuse to give your heart to Christ, then you will be lost.

The Bible tells us about the sins of Dan, and if we follow them, we will be guilty of his sins. King Jeroboam set up two golden calves, similar to the one worshiped by the Israelites at the base of Mount Sinai. One calf he set in Bethel, and the other he set in Dan. (1 Kings 12:28-30) These idols remained for many years, causing the downfall of many people. Dan was well known for its false gods. In Amos 8:14 we read, “They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.” (1 Kings 12:28) The tribe of Dan worshipped a false god. If you are worshipping a false god, you are as guilty as was the tribe of Dan many years ago. Also, if you worship the true God, and have accepted Christ as your Saviour, even if you are a descendent of Dan, you will not be held responsible for his sins, and you will live forever with Christ. God has promised, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” (Ezekiel 18:20)

Regarding the idea that earthly riches proves God’s blessing and earthly poverty proves His disapproval: This could not be further from the truth. This is exactly the misconception the Jews had, and was expressed by the disciples when Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” When His disciples heard this, “they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26) The disciples thought that if a man was rich it was sure evidence that he was in favor with God, so when Jesus said that a rich man will hardly enter into heaven they thought that would surely exclude the poor. With the parable of the rich man and Lazarus Jesus taught that the poor who are faithful to God are more favored in heaven than the rich who despise God and have no love for their fellow men.

There are many examples in the Bible of God’s people who were destitute of earthly riches, but highly favored of God. Jesus said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) Jesus and His disciples were very poor, yet highly favored of God. John the Baptist seemingly had none of this world’s goods, but Jesus said he was the greatest prophet. Elijah was destitute of this world’s goods, forced to sleep in the wilderness, yet he was so highly favored of God that he was one of the two men God took to heaven without seeing death. (2 Kings 2:11) The opposite can also be demonstrated. Many rich men have been some of the most wicked people in the Bible. Earthly riches does not indicate God’s favor, nor does earthly poverty indicate God’s disapproval.

I hope this helps to answer your questions, and I pray that you will believe God’s Word and accept Christ as your Saviour.

This question and its answer were printed in the March 2002 issue of Present Truth.

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Question: What is justification and sanctification?

“I am misunderstanding when studying about these lessons—justification, sanctification, glorification. I know a little about justification; that it only takes a short time and sanctification; that it takes a long time, but how do these work?”

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In the Christian life, justification is being forgiven of sins of the past. This justification a person receives from God the moment they repent, and in at least one sense of the word they are sanctified at that moment as well. (See Romans 3:24-26; 1 Corinthians 6:11.)

The word sanctify can have different meanings depending upon the way it is used. Many times in the Bible inanimate objects are said to be sanctified. For example, some things that can be sanctified are: a field (Leviticus 27:16), a house (Leviticus 27:16), an altar (Leviticus 8:11), a mountain (Exodus 19:23), etc. In these cases, and in many cases where people are said to be sanctified, it signifies a dedication of a person or a thing for sacred purpose. When we ask God for forgiveness and receive His Spirit we are sanctified, set apart, to do service for God.

However, there is a deeper meaning to sanctification at times when it is used of people, which signifies a process that is the work of a lifetime.

Paul wrote, “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.… If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:19-21) Here the word sanctified carries the meaning of a man being so dedicated to Christ that he has “ceased from sin.” (1 Peter 4:1)

This sanctification is accomplished in us through the work of the Spirit of God in our lives and through belief of the truth. Paul wrote, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

Belief of the truth has a great deal to do with the work of sanctification. Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth… And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” (John 17:17, 19) As more truth is revealed to us, and we obey it, the more we are sanctified from all wickedness.

Let me give an illustration of how the truth sanctifies us. When I first gave my heart to the Lord and asked Him to forgive my sins, I still had many bad practices that I did not know were wrong, yet they needed to be corrected. I had received justification, and in a sense I was sanctified—set apart to serve God. I had given up drugs, alcohol, and a long list of other wickedness, but I still had hair down to the middle of my back, I listened to some of the most ungodly music, I didn’t really know what it meant to keep the Sabbath day holy, and I had many other problems that needed refining. As I learned the truth from God’s Word on some of these points, God was able to purify me from these habits. I had already been justified, but now I had begun the process of being sanctified, and this process is still taking place in my life today. God is still tenderly leading me into all truth to sanctify me wholly.

Regarding the continuing work of sanctification, Paul wrote, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

Glorification is something that takes place at Christ’s return when the dead in Christ are raised to immortality and the living righteous are changed. Jesus explained this when, just prior to His death and resurrection, He said, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” (John 12:23) Christ was glorified at His resurrection. “These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.” (John 12:16)

Paul spoke of glorification as a future event when he wrote, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17)

In the Christian life, justification is being forgiven of sins, sanctification is dedicating ourselves to God, as well as and the lifetime process of learning more truth, obeying that truth, and allowing the Spirit of God to give us the victory over every sin; and glorification is the physical change that we experience at Christ’s second coming.

I hope this helps to answer your question.

This question and its answer were printed in the July 2002 issue of Present Truth.

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