Sometimes we find individuals who have difficulty in understanding the difference between justification by faith and sanctification. Mrs. E. G. White makes this very clear and simple when she says:
"The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed. The righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven; the second is our fitness for heaven." -Review. and Herald, June 4, 1895.
Perhaps an illustration will aid in grasping the distinction: Here is a wooden post. It is painted on the outside to cover up all the stains and spots, thus to beautify and perfect its appearance; but the paint does not change the inside of its structure. How different with a vine. The sap flows from the vine into the branches, and imparts new life within. It does not simply cover up the outside, but changes the inside. The paint changes only the exterior, while the sap changes the interior.
We may say that the paint was "imputed" to the post to cover up the defects. Similarly, righteousness by faith was imputed to us to cover up all our past sins and hide them forever. This is our justification. But we need still more. In order to live a victorious life we must have the righteousness of Christ, which is His life, imparted to us, as the sap is imparted to the branches. This is our sanctification. The Lord does not want us to continue sinning, that He may continue to cover up our sins; but He desires to impart to us His life, His divine nature, that we may live a life of victory in Him. Take another illustration: In its natural condition iron is cold, hard, and black. Can this nature be changed? Yes, not by painting it over on the outside so that it looks red and warm, but by placing it in the fire. Then, when the fire gets into the iron the nature is changed. It is no longer cold, hard, and black, but hot, soft, and glowing. And so long as it remains in the fire it retains its new, or imparted, nature,
Thus with us. By nature our hearts are cold and black; but, like the iron, we must be in Christ and Christ must be in us. Then His love will warm up our cold, black hearts so they will glow fervently with love divine. By being in Him and remaining in Him, our natures are changed. "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Rom. 5:10.
Thus, "the righteousness by which we are justified is imputed," as the paint was imputed to the post to cover up the spots; but "the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted," as the sap to the branches or the fire to the iron. It changes our very natures, and thus we are sanctified in Him, who "is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." 1 Cor. 1:30.
Buenos Aires. Argentina. S. A.