The Differing States of Sanctification, and the Unique Perfection of Justification

Taken and adapted from the, “Works of the Late Reverend Robert Traill”,
Volume III. Sermon VI

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“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” 

 –Galatians 2:16 (ESV)


Justification, I say, is perfect…

…and admits of no degrees, admits of no decays, admits of no intermission, nor of any intercession but sanctification admits of all these.  When I say justification is perfect, I mean, that every justified believer is equally and perfectly justified.  The poorest believer that is this day in the world, is justified as much as ever the apostle Paul was.  Every true believer is as much justified now, as he will be a thousand years hence.

Justification is perfect in all them that are partakers of it, and to all eternity; it admits of no degrees; and the plain reason of it is this— the ground of it is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, and the entitling us to it is by an act of God the gracious Judge, and that act stands for ever.  If God justifies, who is he that shall condemn (Romans 8:33)?  Sanctification is an imperfect, incomplete, changeable, thing.  One believer is more sanctified than another.  I am apt to believe that the apostle Paul was more sanctified the first hours of his conversion than any man this day in the world.  Sanctification differs greatly as to the persons that are partakers of it and differs greatly too as to the same man.

A true believer, a truly sanctified man, may be more holy and sanctified at one time than at another.  There is a work required of us, to be perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1), but we are nowhere required to be perfecting righteousness in the sight of God.  God hath brought in a perfect righteousness, in which we stand, but we are to take care and to give diligence to perfect holiness in the fear of God.  A saint in glory is more sanctified than ever he was; for he is perfectly so, but he is not more justified than he was.  No, a saint in heaven is not more justified than a believer on earth is, only they know it better, and the glory of that light in which they see it, discovers it more brightly and more clearly to them.