17 April 2018Romans 5:1-11 (Justification and sanctification)
“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (v. 5)
Psalm: Psalm 40:1-10
Paul builds on yesterday’s passage by writing that, because we are justified or reconciled to God through faith in Jesus, this has consequences. Believing in Jesus is bound to change us. Such a transformation is not an optional extra; the change in a believer comes as naturally as night follows day because of having a living faith. Using different words, ‘sanctification’ naturally follows ‘justification’.
Some Christians find sanctification a rather long word as well as a difficult idea, but Paul makes it clear that ordinary humans, believing in the love of Jesus, are all able to travel towards holiness. Paul actually spells out different stages in such a personal pilgrimage: suffering produces endurance, which in turn produces character and then hope – which in turn does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured into us (verses 3-5). We are not earning God’s approval by doing such things or going through such stages. The pilgrimage with Jesus, the journey into holiness is simply a natural response, with thankful hearts, for all that he has done for us.
Many readers will have been on long walks or pilgrimages of different kinds. The hope of a final destination is always there, perhaps with the promise of a cup of tea or a warm fire! But to get to the end of each day’s journey, there is the obvious need to keep moving forward, even when the going gets tough. However, if I take time to reflect on such days, what so often surprises me are the times when I realise that God/Jesus had been accompanying me: conversations filled with grace, acts of selflessness, reminders of creative wonder. Yes, the destination was important, but so was the journey!
William Barclay wrote that the death of Jesus changes our status with God – we are justified; and his risen life, journeying with us through thick and thin, changes our state – we move towards holiness. For both changes, thanks be to God.
- Make time today to reflect on recent events - those with whom you have talked, events mentioned on radio or TV or computer, what you can see from your window. In what ways has God been present and speaking with you?
- Blaise Pascal says “The serene beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world next to the power of God.” Be encouraged to live today, with thankful hearts, to be beautiful for God.