Three Hints of Sanctification

In the Recovery Version’s outline of the book of Romans, 5:12 marks a major turning point in Paul’s epistle. Before this point, he has laid out the situation of fallen man and then shown God’s righteousness in justifying those who believe the gospel, based on Christ’s redemption. From this point, there is a turn to the matter of sanctification. The footnote on sanctification in 6:19 is important here:

Sanctification (see note 23 in ch. 1) involves not only a change in position, that is, a separation from a common, worldly position to a position for God, as illustrated in Matt. 23:17, 19 and in 1 Tim. 4:3-5; it involves also a transformation in disposition, that is, a transformation from the natural disposition to a spiritual one by Christ as the life-giving Spirit saturating all the inward parts of our being with God’s nature of holiness, as mentioned in 12:2 and 2 Cor. 3:18.

It’s this second aspect of sanctification, the ongoing work of Christ within the believers, that Paul spends much time explaining in this section, culminating in the wonderful revelation of Christ living in the believers in chapter 8. I recently appreciated seeing three hints that show us that Paul is shifting to speak of God’s work not mainly related to our position, but to our disposition.

The Resurrected Christ

In 4:24-25, Paul connects justifying faith with Christ “who was delivered for our offenses and was raised for our justification.” By His death on the cross, Christ redeemed us. Surely His resurrection serves as a proof of this justification, but Paul’s view of the resurrection was not limited to it being an important historical and theologically interesting event. He had met the resurrected Christ, and he had realized that Christ lived in him. Christ’s resurrection was a living reality to Paul, changing his inward being. “As the resurrected One,” the note on raised concludes, “He is in us to live for us a life that can be justified by God and is always acceptable to God.”

The “Much More” Salvation

The next hint is in 5:10:

For if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life, having been reconciled.

Here Paul situates reconciliation in the past as an accomplishment of Christ through His death. This reconciliation has brought together the holy and righteous God and man so far sunk in the depths of sin as to be the enemy of his Creator. While marveling at this reconciliation, Paul powerfully points us to something beyond our initial experience of salvation in Christ. Much more we will be saved in His life! What a hope for those who believe, both today and tomorrow! Note 4 on this verse says:

To be saved in Christ’s life is to be saved in Christ Himself as life. He dwells in us, and we are organically one with Him. By the growth of His life in us, we will enjoy His full salvation to the uttermost. Redemption, justification, and reconciliation are for the purpose of bringing us into union with Christ so that He can save us in His life unto glorification (8:30).

Sin or Sins?

Finally, Romans 5:12 marks a change in Paul’s language related to sin. Before this point, he deals with the problem of sins, the acts that separate us from God outwardly. Beginning from this point, however, Paul has much to say about sin, the inward nature from which sins come forth.

In this section of Romans, the problem is not just what we do, but what we are. These three hints point us to a deeper problem, but also a deeper solution. In this context, Paul shows us “much more” salvation in Christ’s life being worked out in many wonderful ways. I’m looking forward to digging into these next few chapters!


This post draws heavily from message 11 (mp3 download) of the Life-study of Romans podcast series.


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