I have come to realize over the last few years that most people confuse the doctrines of justification and sanctification and as a result find justification for worldliness and setting aside any challenge to the way they are living.
I have heard other people either say or seen them write such things as the following:
"God does not judge us on the basis of how we behave".
"God loves us all the same".
"God is only concerned about the inside".
"Personal separation does not make one more pleasing to God".
There are numerous variations of these statements.
The problem is that all of these statements are true in one context and false in another.
In the context of justification they are generally true. In the context of sanctification they are generally false. The problem arises when people take what is true in the context of justification and apply those truths in the context of sanctification.
Justification has to do with our standing before God as lawgiver and judge. In our natural state we are all condemned before the law. Having recognized our perilous state and desiring to flee the wrath to come we repent towards God and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and we are justified. We are declared, by judicial pronouncement, justified before the law and right with God as our judge.
For everyone who has repented and believed the gospel we are all equally justified. What we do or don't do beyond that has no bearing on our justification. No one is more justified than anyone else. We can never be more justified than we were the very moment of our salvation! In justification we are all viewed equally just before the law irrespective of our behaviour or attitudes. Before God as our judge we are all equally innocent. No one is perceived better than anyone else for we are all perceived as being blameless and irreproachable.
Once we are saved we enter another relationship with God. He becomes our Father and we his sons. The reality of this relationship has no consequences on our relationship with God as judge and lawgiver. Nevertheless the new relationship does introduce a new dynamic. As children we are not all equally obedient. Let me hasten to add, none of us are obedient as we ought to be. But......some of God's children are more obedient than others. In this context we are not all equally pleasing to God. We do not all have the same intimacy with God. We are not all walking at the same level of fellowship with God. Can it be that some actually miss the contrast the Bible makes between the spiritual and the carnal believer, the worldly and the holy believer, the committed and the uncommitted believer? Would anyone dare to argue that God was as pleased with Demas as he was with Paul? That he was as pleased with Ananias as he was with Barnabas? That he was as pleased with the church of Corinth as he was the church of Philippi?
There is a real misunderstanding when people arm themselves with the glorious truths of justification and plunder and pillage the glorious truths of sanctification. When they take the terms legalist/legalism which by their very nature have application in the area of justification and apply them to the area of sanctification. When they will not admit that in justification we are declared righteous before the law and in sanctification we desire to keep the law to please the Father not to pacify him as a judge. While we can never pacify him as a judge we can please him as a father! The first has reference to justification, the latter to sanctification.
Acts 13:39 - And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
2 Timothy 2:21 - If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.