Types of Grace: What Grace, Sanctification, and Justification Mean
I can’t count the number of times I have fallen asleep in church.
Whenever someone would preach on sanctification, justification, or grace. It was either way too complicated… or way too boring.
Actually, I think it was a combination of both, which is why I could never get into the messages.
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Even in recent years, coming across messages about the topics on YouTube, I remember asking myself, “I wonder, do these Pastors even believe in what they are preaching?”
I asked myself this because every time I came across sermons on these topics, the scripture that always came to mind was – to not be led away from the simplicity of Christ (2 Cor 11:3).
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV
I couldn’t understand that if you believe in something, how could you not teach it in a simple way?
The Gospel is supposed to be easy to understand.
But, in the defense of the Pastor(s), maybe it wasn’t the right timing for me to get that understanding.
None the less, I was turned off by these messages. It was actually my Daddy himself who was the one who had to teach it to me.
I would like to share grace, justification, and sanctification in a way that is simple and easy to understand, the way my Daddy had to break it down for me. First teaching me about grace, so that I could understand both justification and sanctification.
To give you a little bit of the backstory of how this came about: I was a person who walked in a whole lot of truth.
I struggled with learning how to hear God’s voice, so I often just relied heavily on the word.
Most people close to me thought of me as being judgmental and very critical. It took me years to understand why people perceived me this way.
No matter how much those around me tried to explain it to me, I never got it.
There is a saying: “you are so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good.” I heard that so much after rededicating my life back to God in 2012, that it frustrated me.
But I think God showed me over the years that it’s actually a compliment. But it used to really bother me and make me really sad. To add to it, in 2016, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). This is a bit different from OCD.
People with OCD know they have a problem and want to fix their issues; whereas people with OCPD doesn’t see their issues as problems. They don’t really accept they have a problem even if you tell them what they are doing is problematic.
People with OCPD see nothing wrong with how they do things and believe everyone should do things their way. People with OCPD only decides to get help once they realize they are ruining relationships around them.
There are two traits of an individual with OCPD that really spoke to who I was:
- Preoccupation with rules, lists, order and organization; perfectionism that interferes with completing tasks (Lack of Grace).
- I was very inflexible with morality, values, and ethics (Truth).
By definition, OCPD’ers will force our morals, values, and ethics on ourselves and others. And not only that, we have a way of doing things that works for us and we think it should work for everyone else.
We are very black and white in everything, extremely tunnel visioned.
Now, with that being said, I don’t believe in accepting labels from therapists, because God said we are to live as what He says we are, and not what man says we are.
But I will say, after receiving this diagnosis, for the first time in life I felt understood. This diagnosis helped me understand myself more and it was the foundation for God to help me learn what grace, justification, and sanctification was and to help others understand it as well.
Even after the diagnosis, I was ruining relationships in my life and still couldn’t figure out why.
My lack of grace was starting to affect me and my best friend, and my best friend got my attention one day. I had been praying for God to help me before but after upsetting my bestie, I prayed the hardest I could pray and God immediately started teaching me about these things. Here is what He showed me:
He first showed me that I had 100% truth and 0% grace.
He then showed me Jesus was 100% grace and 100% truth (John 1:14).
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”John 1:14 NIV
Examples included the woman at the well.
Jesus had grace for the woman and truth for the people trying to stone her to death. Then He told the woman to sin no more. He would heal people (grace) and then tell the people to not sin anymore (truth).
And then He went right into breaking down grace in a way that changed my life.
What are Common Types of Grace?
Grace can take on so many definitions but for the purposes of keeping things simple, we will give grace six concrete definitions:
- God’s given ability to overcome anything in your life or have anything that seems to be impossible.
- The actions taken towards an individual after you have put yourself in their shoes on a given situation.
- Unmerited Favor – which is simply underserved support and kindness.
- Order and Organization.
- The ability to complete a specific task/jobs(s) with much ease.
- God given honor and respect from other people.
Let’s break the first three of these down in more detail:
Definition #1: God’s Given ability to overcome anything in your life.
I received this definition from Troy Brewer. God speaks to me through numbers all the time and He is always showing me the number 5. There are so many times where I unconsciously wake up at 5:55am.
Because of this, I wanted to learn more about the number 5 which led me to the first encounter I had with understanding grace. Troy explains that God used the number 5 anytime He wants to show Grace. He used the number 5 to symbolize delivering the Israelites from Egypt.
If you think of all the miracles that God did with Moses and Aaron (God given ability to overcome); snakes turning into a rod, snakes eating the magicians snakes, all of the plagues God sent, killing of the first born son of just the Egyptians, parting the Red Sea and so forth, all of these were God given abilities to free the Israelites and to prove that it was grace.
“So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.[a] The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.”Exodus 13:18 NIV
Another example of God given ability to overcome anything in life includes David. Although he killed Goliath with 1 stone, he picked up 5 stones before doing so (1 Samuel 17:40). God given ability to overcome a giant.
The last example I will share is Abraham and Sarah’s ability to have a son.
In Genesis Ch 15, which is 3 X 5 (3 = God (Trinity) and 5 = Grace), Abraham asked how he could be sure that God would bless him with a son?
God said to be sure, they would make a covenant. Remember a covenant is simply an agreement to terms between two parties, like a cell phone contract, or a rental agreement.
God told Abraham that He needed him to sacrifice 5 animals. God was saying that if Abraham ministered grace, He would in return, give him grace (God given ability) to have a son.
Not to get too deep, but when Abraham sacrificed the animals, God showedAbraham He would honor His part of giving Abraham not only a son, but a generation of people who would be captives for 400 years.
God’s sign was both telling Abraham and showing him this would come to pass by the vision of the smoking fire pot and the flaming torch passing the carcasses.
Definition #2: The actions taken towards an individual after you have put yourself in their shoes.
The best example I can give for this definition is what Jesus, God the Son, did on the cross for you and me.
The Bible says Jesus, who is fully God, became a man like you and I, experienced everything we experience, yet did not sin.
He was tempted in every way we were but still refused to give into the temptation of sin.
When He was on the cross, every sin ever imaginable was placed on Him for our sake. Jesus saw what you and I went through, what we face on a day to day basis. He has been in our shoes.
After coming to this earth and living as a man, the action He decided to take was to die on the cross for us. He showed grace by taking our place. It should have been us who died and went to Hell but because of grace, He felt compassion and paid the ultimate price.
In the words of my pastor, we are so valuable to God that Jesus had to die for us! The only price that could be paid for you and I was Jesus dying for us, nothing else created would do.
Do you see the value you have?!
Definition #3: Unmerited Favor
Unmerited favor is simply underserved support and kindness.
The greatest example I can show here is God our Father. He showed the greatest support and kindness as well as mercy by sending His only Son to die in our place.
The compassion He had for you and I, that He would give His only Son. I don’t know one person today who would show that kind of support, to sacrifice their one and only child for me. I’m sure you all get the point here.
So that’s grace. Which leads to justification and sanctification. But what are they?
What are Justification and Sanctification?
Let’s start with Justification.
Simply put: when you accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, because of God’s Grace; God gave you what is called the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17).
“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!”Romans 5:17 NIV
God gave me a vision showing me what the gift of righteousness is.
In the vision, I saw a huge covering or a cloak placed over my spirit. This means God doesn’t see my (or your) imperfections anymore. What He sees instead is Jesus’ perfection. He sees you, your real spirit. And this shines so bright in the eyes of God.
And it was a gift, just like any gift God gives us. Whether it’s grace, salvation, gifts of the Spirit, deliverance, etc. All we have to do is receive it. We can’t work for any gift that God gives us. We just have to say “I believe it, I receive it, and I will walk in it.”
Remember the Bible teaches us that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. Our old life is gone, and a new life has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
God showed me through the gift of grace undeserved favor, support, and kindness. And through this gift of righteousness, I was made new.
It was kind of like a trade. If you trade in your old car and get a new car, the old one is no longer here. It’s gone, not coming back.
The same applies here, only much more important. Because you’re not gaining just a new set of wheels, but a fresh beginning with God. Clean as snow. He no longer sees the old you, just the you that are you now, through Him. And that is Justification.
“Justification sets people free from sin’s penalty; sanctification means being set from sin’s power. Justification is something that God does for us; sanctification is what God does with us. Justification is by grace through faith, while sanctification is by grace applied in life.” (Journal Advocate: Sanctification Always Follows Justification).
Sanctification is really just as simple. When God, through grace, gave you the gift of righteousness, your spirit became new, but not your soul or body. Think about it: when you got saved, in that instance, whwat really changed?
Your body did not change. You looked the same.
Some people may feel it on the inside, but others may not. We cannot physically see or detect a change, but we know that there was. Because it was our spirit evolving, not our body.
This is why we have scriptures like Romans 12:2:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:2 NIV
Take your everyday, ordinary life and consider all the things: sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life. Place it all before God as an offering.
Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into the world without even thinking.
Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it.
Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, and develops well-formed maturity in you.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,”Philippians 2:12 NIV
Most of the issues we work out as Christians on this earth are soulish issue; sin within our souls and body, emotional issues, character issues, thoughts in our mind, etc.
Remember the Bible says out of the heart (soul/mind) flows the issues of life.
Sanctification is the process we have to go through in lining our souls and body up with what God has already perfected in our spirits.
We, through God’s grace work daily to renew our minds and work out our soul salvation to the perfect image of Christ. It’s an adventure, but it’s extremely exciting one with lots of roller coasters, and unexpected events.
I thank God for His gift of grace, and the gift of righteousness. I pray I have done a good job of helping you understand concepts that took me years to get.