Sanctification by Law or Grace? Which Is It?

That which is enough for justification into Christ is enough for sanctification in Christ!

Bible believing Christians are nearly unanimous in their view that salvation is by grace through faith alone. What many Bible believers are divided over, or ignorant about, is how a person remains saved, otherwise known as progressive sanctification.

Among fundamental Christians there seems to be a growing lack of discernment when it comes to the doctrine of sanctification. Is one who has been justified by grace now subject to obeying the Law? Or worse yet, are church leaders subjecting their flock to their own self-styled rules, regulations, and whims?

The churches in Galatia had been converted to Christ through the gospel preaching and teaching of the apostle Paul. Yet, there were those who came along when Paul had left, telling the people they needed to follow the Law to prove their salvation.

In today’s “Galatianized” church, however, it is not always the Old Testament Law that many will try to get people to follow (though many still do so) but a list of “do’s and don’ts” to prove one’s sanctification. How did Paul respond? O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Gal. 3:1-5 ).

For instance, a typical “fundamental” church may diagnose a sin issue and then prescribe a three or four step way to overcome the particular sin. The major problem with this type of thinking is that it brings all things back to man’s work rather than the work God already provided. Truly, if salvation is by grace through faith alone, would it not suffice us to realize that sanctification must also be through the same method? The answer, of course, is yes indeed!

How? The Law of God confronts us with our sin, even as a believer. In that regard, we do indeed need the Law, not as a corrective measure for sin but as a measuring stick for it. The only real hope is to trust in the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ. When penitent believers remember the grace which had been given to them, as well as the grace that they have, they also remember that they “are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11).” Do not mix Law and grace for salvation or for sanctification!

— Pastor Bob Picard, God's Grace Bible Church, Milllbury, MA. Reproduced in Foundation magazine, Issue 1, 2018, with permission of the author.