The Galatian false teachers Warn Those who Won’t work for Sanctification
Galatians 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I now LIVE TO God. Galatians is not only about justification but also about how we live the Christian life.
Like the Galatian false teachers, those who say “sanctification” is by works are not saying that sin causes people to lose their justification. They are not at all denying imputation. They are simply saying that there’s MORE to the Christian life than justification.
They are merely saying that you need to be sanctified also, and unlike justification, they say, sanctification IS by works. Since both justification and sanctification are the results of “union” with Christ, they remind us, we need also a “righteousness of Christ” which is now found in us.
This of course means that salvation takes time. You can’t be justified at once, because you need to be sanctified to be justified, not of course that sanctification is the basis for justification, but “union with Christ” means that you have both, and for both you need time.
The Holy Spirit giving you righteousness on the inside will depend on your working at it, and for that you need the rest of your life. And since you are not on your death bed, you need to know that your judicial success on the last day depends on your working.
The Galatians parallel is real. Both parties in the dispute are open to the idea that some in the other party are lost, never justified, not even Christians. The “you can be sanctified also (by works)” party is saying sanctification is the evidence of justification. You are not justified by circumcision, but sanctification is by circumcision, and if you won’t get sanctified (more), then that means you were never justified, because both are the results of “real” union with Jesus “the person”.
Paul is the other person in the Galatians controversy. He also thinks some in the other party may not be Christians. If you get yourself circumcised to get a blessing, it doesn’t matter if it’s for justification or sanctification, “Christ will be of no profit to you.”. Don’t do it. I warn you. Don’t attempt to be sanctified by works.
If justification is by grace but sanctification is by works, then Christ died in vain for sanctification? No, that’s not what Galatians 2:21 says. If any part of salvation is by works, then Christ died to NO purpose.
Paul doesn’t seem to be a balanced “perspectives” kind of guy. He doesn’t agree to disagree about how sanctification works. Paul doesn’t say: well, some of us are just more “gospel awake” than others who tend to be a bit “legalistic”. Paul insists: if the extra stuff (sanctification, rewards, punishments) depends on law, then Christ died in vain.