Our outline of Romans:
Rom 1:1-7, Greeting and benediction;
Rom 1:8-15, Desire to visit Rome;
Rom 1:16-17, Theme of the letter: the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God;
Rom 1:18-5:11, Justification and the righteousness of God;
Rom 5:12-8:39, Sanctification and the righteousness of God;
Rom 9:1-11:36, God’s righteousness and Israel;
Rom 12:1-15:13, Practical Application of God’s righteousness;
Rom 15:14-16:27, Conclusion.
Rom 5 forms two consecutive chiastic structures:
1a) Rom 5:1, We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, having been justified by faith;
1b) Rom 5:2-4, Standing in grace accessed by faith, our future hope is the glory of God;
1c) Rom 5:5, The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit;
central axis) Rom 5:6-7, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly;”
2c) Rom 5:8, The love of God has been demonstrated by Christ dying for us while we were still sinners;
2b) Rom 5:9-10, Having been justified by His blood, our future is not wrath;
2a) Rom 5:11, We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have been reconciled.
1a) Rom 5:12, Wrath reigned: sin entered the world, and death through sin, in Adam;
1b) Rom 5:13, Sin is not imputed where there is no Law;
central axis) Rom 5:14-19, Contrast: Adam’s offense resulting in judgment, condemnation, and death / Jesus’ righteousness resulting in the free gift of grace, justification, and life;
2b) Rom 5:20, The Law entered that the offense might abound;
2a) Rom 5:21, Grace reigned: righteousness entered, and life through righteousness, in Jesus Christ.
We were to have a change of topic in this chapter, from justification, to sanctification. Justification is imputed righteousness, our legal status before God which sets us in right standing. Justification allows us to escape the wrath which Adam’s sin placed all men under.
Sanctification, on the other hand, is righteousness that is not merely imputed, but walked out in the life. It is an increase in righteous works and acts. Justification is a single, historic act: all of us can remember the time we bowed our knee and said Yes to Jesus. It was the historic moment in time when the blood of Jesus as the Passover Lamb was brushed over the doorposts of our hearts, making atonement or covering our guilty verdict which required condemnation and judgment for our sins.
Sanctification is an ongoing process, continually present. It is our daily obedience to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit within us. It encompasses our life long pursuit of learning the ways and thoughts and God, and aligning our thoughts and our ways to match His.
Sanctification is a result of justification. The historic act of justification, when it meets a human heart which places trust in Him, through the Spirit makes a new creation of that heart. It is from the heart, that thoughts and actions flow to be walked out in life. It is from that change of heart that sanctification increases in a person’s life. He is daily changed more and more into the image of Christ.
We could not earn justification. While we were still God’s enemies, Christ died for us. This act of love changes every human heart it touches. Sanctification might superficially be thought of as something we earn. Once we are in covenant by grace through faith, just as Abraham was, we obey, just as Abraham did.
However, we cannot even earn our sanctification. Have you ever heard the phrase, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” God pours His grace out on our hearts, and His grace so influences our hearts, that it becomes our nature to choose His thoughts and His ways. But the source of that sanctification is His grace, and not our effort. On that day, no flesh will be able to boast before God.
There is a balance here, as with everything else. When we learn by reading His word or by hearing it taught in church, that lying is wrong, then the next time we are faced with an opportunity or temptation to tell a lie, we have a choice to make. If we choose not to lie, if we choose righteousness, of course with the aid and help of the Holy Spirit, of course because of the grace of God poured out onto our hearts, then we have “worked out our own salvation (i.e., sanctification) with fear and trembling,” (Phi 2:12).
So many today use grace as an opportunity for the flesh. A license to sin. Where there is no sanctification, no increase in righteousness walked out in the life, there has been no justification.
For further reading:
romans 5, the demonstrated love of God