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Justification & Sanctification

“True doctrine taught, and understood, will change attitude and behavior quicker than the study of behavior will change behavior.” – President Packer

I stood here a few months ago and gave a talk on the enabling and sanctifying power of Grace.  In my talk today I wish to take that a step further.  After pondering all week and through prayer I have had one topic on my mind that seems to be fitting for this occasion.  That is the doctrine of justification and its associate sanctification.
Since President Packer says that True Doctrine understood changes our attitudes and behavior, my goal then is that the Holy Ghost today will be the medium that will educate our hearts and desires by teaching us the truthfulness and the application of this doctrine in our lives.  This in turn will help us to change our behavior, attitude, faith, and hope.
Two stories:
I remember hearing story a while back on my mission where someone was relating of an experience they read out of an old church magazine.  He recounted what he read as this: There were 40 bishops assembled at a training meeting where a member of the seventy was presiding and doing the teaching.  At one point during the seventy’s training he asked all the bishops to close their eyes and bow their heads.  He asked them a question; he asked them to raise their hands if they felt they could say yes to this question, “How many of you feel that you are fit for the celestial kingdom?”  Out of those many worthy bishops only 3 out of 40 raised their hands.
The second story comes to us from the New Testament, Matthew 19:20-26.  You will find this story familiar:

“20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
23 ¶Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, who then can be saved?


26  But Jesus beheld their thoughts, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but if they will forsake all things for my sake, with God whatsoever things I speak are possible.”

I propose that the doctrine the disciples at this time did not understand and the doctrine the many worthy bishops of the previous story did not understand is the doctrine of Justification and Sanctification.
I will treat Justification and Sanctification separately and then tie them together.
To understand justification and sanctification we must understand the Pre-earth life.  Before the organization of this earth we lived in God’s presence.  There was a council in Heaven; the prophet Joseph describes a particular aspect of this event that is interesting,

"God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself.”

Due to our several deficiencies we were not capable to be exactly obedient to these laws, which in turn mean that we would never be able to merit eternal life.  But in the infinite wisdom, justice, and mercy of our God our Lord Jesus Christ made covenant with God in the Pre-earth life that he (Christ) would perform the atonement.  Thus the prophet Joseph said,

“An Everlasting covenant was made between three personages before the organization of this earth and relates to their dispensation of things to men on the earth. These personages… are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the Witness or Testator.”

By this covenant the Plan of Happiness and the atonement was made operative, thus the processes of Justification and Sanctification through Grace was made operative.  This plan of salvation provides us the opportunity to make covenants with Christ because of the covenant He made with his Father, these covenants are key.
Now to define justification:  The state of being obedient to covenants, whereby our sins are forgiven is the state of justification.  If we repent and seek our best to keep the covenants we have made; Christ then imputes his righteousness to us whereby we are “perfect in Christ.”  Justification translates from the Greek word dik-ah-yo which means to render or show regard to one who is just or innocent.
Justification in short is to be forgiven of sin, to have the atonement invoked in our life so that we are rendered innocent of any sin.  Moses 6:60 says that the Holy Ghost is the one who justifies us.  President Harold B. Lee makes an observation about Moses 6:60:

“I want to comment about this one statement: "by the Spirit ye are justified." Now I've struggled with that statement, and I have found a definition that seems to indicate to me what I'm sure the Lord intended to convey. The definition that I think is significant says: "Justify means to pronounce free from guilt or blame, or to absolve." Now if the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, is to pronounce one free from guilt or blame, or to absolve, then we begin to see something of the office of the Holy Ghost that relates to the subject about which we are talking: what it means to be born of the Spirit.”

Elder Christofferson makes a similar statement: “The Holy Spirit is the medium through whom atoning grace is applied to remit sins (justification) and sanctify souls (sanctification).”

So to achieve justification is to have the righteousness of Christ and his atonement applied to us through the medium of the Holy Ghost.  It is to be absolved.  This becomes effective as we continually repent and keep our covenants.
Elder McConkie makes this point that will help us transition into Sanctification:

“Everyone in the Church who is on the straight and narrow path, who is striving and struggling and desiring to do what is right, though far from perfect in this life; if he passes out of this life while he’s on the straight and narrow, he’s going to go on to eternal reward in his Father’s kingdom.
“We don’t need to get a complex or get a feeling that you have to be perfect to be saved. … The way it operates is this: you get on the path that’s named the ‘straight and narrow.’ You do it by entering the gate of repentance and baptism. The straight and narrow path leads from the gate of repentance and baptism, a very great distance, to a reward that’s called eternal life. … Now is the time and the day of your salvation, so if you’re working zealously in this life—though you haven’t fully overcome the world and you haven’t done all you hoped you might do—you’re still going to be saved”

Now for the two most sublime verses in the Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:32-33

 32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Verse 32 deals with Justification; Moroni in the next verse makes the point that sanctification is a separate process:
 33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.”

We see in these verses that we are justified by the grace of Christ, once we are justified then we qualify to be sanctified by that same mechanism of grace.  Now to define sanctification:

Elder Christofferson says. “To be sanctified through the blood of Christ is to become clean, pure, and holy. If justification removes the punishment for past sin, then sanctification removes the stain or effects of sin.”

Sanctified in Hebrew translates from kaw-dash which means to pronounce or make holy.  To be sanctified is to be elevated beyond where simple obedience to laws can take you.  This is why the temple ordinances are essential.  This is the meaning of the word endowment (the gift) we make covenants with Christ, we keep those covenants in order to be justified, then we are endowed with the powers of heaven to where we become sanctified! It is all through covenant since no man could reach that state of holiness without the covenant.
Once we understand this we begin to obtain a hope to where we “abound in Good works”, we obtain the highest level of Faith to where we know that our life through our covenants is worthy of the appellation of eternal life.
We begin to have a perfect brightness of hope, “ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.”
Sanctification is a gift, it is to be endowed with the power of God that we are promised in our ordinances.  If we keep our covenants our natures literally change to where we can qualify for the blessings of the city of Enoch and of Noah:

“27 And thus Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; for Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and he walked with God.”

We can become just men made perfect.  We can be one in Christ as he is one with the Father.  All of this is done by covenant.
To come full circle: Once we understand this doctrine we understand it is up to us to Choose liberty and life or captivity and death.  Elder Christoffeson explains:
“It is not that we earn these gifts, but rather that we choose to seek and accept justification and sanctification. Since the Savior paid for our sins and satisfied justice for us, we become debtors to Him rather than to justice. We must therefore meet the stipulations He has established for forgiveness and cleansing. Otherwise, He withdraws His proffered mediation, and we are left to deal alone with the demands of justice, lacking the means to become pure. One must choose Christ to receive what Christ offers.”
No wonder Christ gives us this statement concerning those who do not receive celestial glory in D&C 88:32,

“they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.”


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