“If we bring only the aftermath of our sins to the cross, and not the whole of them, our very enthrallment with them, to the cross, then we create this division between justification and practice.”
In this article: here, Dr. Rosenbladt has identified correctly that in the history of the church, this tension between grace and legalism has been the main debate. Right on! Grace is a scandal, and forgiveness appears always to transgress justice. I have a few minor differences with Dr. Rosenbladt on trivial semantic things, but he is exactly right.
In the last post, we pondered that when we inwardly mythologize Jesus’ suffering and death, when we make it more of a theoretical point of doctrine than a real person experiencing real suffering, our redemption becomes a theoretical point of doctrine as well. The more we reflect that a real price was paid, that true and justified wrath was executed on our behalf, the more we lose our taste for those things so punished, and the less division we put into our idea of being ‘washed’ and being ‘sanctified’ and being ‘justified’. It is interesting how Paul seems to view these things as monolithic:
11 And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:11, NASB).
Does this mean I am putting some back door works idea into the gospel? Of course not. As I’m always saying, if your idea of redemption doesn’t lead to the Romans 6:1 question you are not really teaching the gospel. However, the degree to which we still practice or harbor sin, is the degree to which we have not for ourselves seen that particular sin as incurring God’s good wrath, and the degree to which we still harbor love for that forbidden pleasure. I love what Augustine says in the Confessions:
And, not indeed in these words, but to this effect, I cried to thee: “And thou, O Lord, how long? How long, O Lord? Wilt thou be angry forever? Oh, remember not against us our former iniquities.” For I felt that I was still enthralled by them. I sent up these sorrowful cries: “How long, how long? Tomorrow and tomorrow? Why not now? Why not this very hour make an end to my uncleanness?”
Saving faith says, I agree with Your wrath Lord, I trust in Christ’s blood as Your judgement of it, over my whole existence. Sanctifying faith is no different, it says, I agree with Your wrath for this particular sin, I trust in Christ’s blood as Your judgement of it.
If we bring only the aftermath of our sins to the cross, and not the whole of them, our very enthrallment with them, to the cross, then we create this division between justification and practice. We are in totality forgiven, and if there is any progression in our walk, it happens because we bring a deeper and deeper part of our desire and enthrallment with sin under His blood and become washed more. If there is a work of the Spirit within us, this is certainly a part of it.
2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.
3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
(1 John 3:2, 3, NASB).