We know that we must be saved to be given the armor of God. So why is God giving us a helmet of salvation? The only answer that makes sense is that salvation must be made up of different phases. Guess what? It is actually made up of three different phases.
Let’s See What Scripture Has to Say
Salvation does in deed consist of 3 phases: justification, sanctification, and glorification.
The helmet goes on the head so we must be concerned with the part of salvation that deals with our souls – “I want,” “I think,” “I feel.” Or put in simpler terms our behavior matters. How we live our life after accepting Jesus as our Savior matters.
How we live our lives after being justified (made right with God – our spirit is changed) and before we are glorified (receive our new bodies) matters.
The 3 Different Phases…
We obviously can’t be talking about justification because that is done for us by Jesus. This happened the moment that we accepted God the Father’s offer to receive the payment Jesus made on our behalf for our sins. Once we accepted this payment, we became the righteousness of God in Jesus. Our sin penalty was payed and our eternal security was achieved. We became a new creation (1 Corinthians 5:17), a child of God.
As a child of God we are able to receive the armor of God. Justification means to be declared righteous. It is our position before God. Justification is what Christ did for us. It takes place immediately and is complete upon conversion. It means that the believer that just accepted Christ or the saint that has known Jesus for many years are justified in the same way. Justification means being totally justified in the sight of God.
We need to remember that it is not through works that we are justified. Our work is motivated by the grace God has poured out in our lives.
We must be talking about sanctification. When the Father drew us to Jesus and we accepted Jesus our spirit was immediately changed and we became a child of God. We also know that when Christ returns we will see Him as He is in His glorified state because we will have our new bodies.
Sanctification is the ongoing work. Once God declares a sinner righteous, He immediately begins the process of making that sinner more like His Son. The Lord does this through the work of His Spirit, through the power of His word and fellowship with other believers. The first thing that begins to happen is that God takes away our desires for sin; He renews our mind and changes our lives. This ongoing work is called sanctification.
Sanctification involves work, so empowered by the Holy Spirit that we fight against sin, we study Scripture and pray. We flee temptation when we are faced by it. As we trust the Lord and strive for holiness, we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. As we practice sanctification – Christ works within us. In contrast justification happens once for all, upon conversion. Sanctification is a process. We will be more sanctified as we continue in grace motivated obedience.
Sanctification is the process of changing our souls one decision at a time. This is where we get to work with the Holy Spirit to demonstrate the mind of Christ. We already have the mind of Christ in us because we were saved. Just like we have muscles when we are born, but they will not build (become stronger) unless we exercise them. The same with our character. It must be developed by how we respond to all the trials, tests and good times that happen in our lives. Do we respond in a godly manner or do we respond from our old human nature? God is all about choice.
Sanctification will be seen by others through our behavior. This is where we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). This is where we bring into captivity every thought that is against Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:4-5); this is where we have our minds transformed by the washing of God’s Word (Romans12:1-2).
2 Peter 1:3-11
2 Timonthy 2:21-26
Romans 8:29 God predestined us to grow into His likeness, but this doesn’t happen at the moment we are saved. While we are redeemed by the Savior’s precious blood and immediately have a new heart, our transformation is a lifelong process.
The Holy Spirit enables this journey. Growth is impossible without Him, regardless of our efforts. Yet we can welcome or hinder His transforming hand.
One way we give God willing access to our lives is by obeying this mandate in Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
Everyone chooses either a biblical or worldly philosophy as his or her source of truth–and that choice shapes the mind and spirit. Therefore, the Lord tells us to immerse our mind in Scripture, allowing Him to mold us into His beautiful image.
The Bible story about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness illustrates this principle. After saving them from Pharaoh’s abuse, God did not bring them immediately to the Promised Land. The Lord knew doing so would bring sinful ways with them. Instead, He led them to the wilderness and gave the Ten Commandments. Only after they learned to obey and turn to almighty God were they ready for the next step.
The process of sanctification isn’t always pleasant. In fact, it’s often painful for us, just as it was for the Israelites. In God’s amazing wisdom and love, however, He knows what we need to leave our old ways that lead to death. And He builds new character in us–full of life and joy.
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law . . .” – Romans 3:20. None of us can earn God’s approval and love by our good works. None of us can add to the finished complete work of Jesus on the cross. He paid the price of our sins.
Our participation in the process of sanctification comes only after we have been totally accepted and made right before God through faith in Jesus. Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Christ, of growing in holiness. This process begins the instant you are converted and will not end until you meet Jesus face to face in glorification.
We also can’t be talking about glorification. This is also done by God. 1 Corinthians 15 lets us know that this change will occur for us when Christ returns. Sin will now be completely absent and we will be perfect. What a glorious day that will be.
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
I am saved
I am separated from the penalty of sin
the change occurs in our spirit
After accepting what Jesus did for us on the cross we are declared righteous in Him.
We have passed from being separated from God to being united with Him.
We become a child of God.
Our eternal security is sure.
I am being saved
I am being separated from the power of sin
Happens in our soul (I want, I think, I feel.)
I am developing the character of Christ in my actions
His thoughts our becoming our thoughts, His love is becoming our love, etc.
This is where we learn to be over comers and bear fruit.