Do Christian Reconstructionists Believe That We Are Sanctified by the Law?
This question needs to be answered in a no/yes fashion. No, Christians are not sanctified by the law if one means that the law is added to faith to save someone (the Judaizing heresy). “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Galatians 2:21). If there is anything that man can do to merit or retain his salvation, then there is room for boasting. The Bible says that rebellious sinners do not even add faith; it too is a “gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law (Romans 3:21-28).
The Christian adds nothing to Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Jesus paid it all. The debt is entirely the sinner’s. The righteousness belongs entirely to Jesus. Jesus’ righteousness is imputed or credited to those who are “dead in trespasses and sins,” apart from any work of the law (Ephesians 2:1). This is called justification, a judicial act of God that happens only once, declaring sinners to be righteous based on the merits of Jesus Christ, His perfect obedience and His perfect sacrifice.
With justification comes definitive sanctification. A supporting text of Scripture for definitive sanctification is 1 Corinthians 1:2: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”
Scripture goes on to talk about progressive sanctification – spiritual growth – comparing it to natural growth: “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:1-3). If justification is a point, then sanctification is a vector, starting at a point and then moving in one direction. Sanctification follows justification as growth follows birth. Paul says that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). We were redeemed “from every lawless deed” so that we might be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). No works or growth, no sanctification. No sanctification, no justification. Sanctification is evidence of justification.
Growth, however, depends on nourishment. The nourishment is “the pure milk of the word.” Sanctification is not simply being “led by the Spirit.” The Spirit uses the word to lead us into sanctification. Scripture is the standard for sanctification. How do we know when we are going through the process of sanctification? Feelings? Emotion? Personal opinion? Sentiment? Extra-biblical standards? The evaluation of others? Peter tells us that we are to “long for the pure milk of the word.” This includes the law of God since it is part of God’s word. In fact, a case could be made that the word of God and the law of God are one and the same, for all that proceeds out of the mouth of God is the law-word of God (Matthew 4:4 quoting the law of Deuteronomy 8:3). Scripture is the very breath of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Whatever God says is law.
For if “everything created by God is good” when “sanctified by the word of God” (l Timothy 4:5), then we ought to assume that we are sanctified by the word of God, the law included. The Spirit uses the Word of God in the sanctification process. “And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1 John 3:24). Notice that keeping the commandments and the Holy Spirit are not mutually exclusive. The Holy Spirit in us helps us keep the law of God and instructs us when we either keep or break His commandments. One way to tell if the Holy Spirit is in you is by the way you treat His commandments.
Take away the law of God and sanctification turns into subjectivism. It is no accident that Jesus said that a true disciple will be known by others by something external, since only God knows the heart: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20); “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10); “so faith, if it has no works, is dead” Games 2:17). We are saved by grace through faith, but saving faith always produces good works.