Question:

Are we judged based on justification or based on sanctification?

The reason I ask is because of Hebrews 10:26-31. It appears these people have already been justified, but are merely trampling on grace.

I wanted an expert's opinion.


Answer:

It appears you are making a distinction not found in the Scriptures. Your question makes it appear that you believe that justification (being make right before the law) and sanctification (being made holy) come at different points in time. Paul said, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:11). Paul states that being washed (baptized), being sanctified, and being justified are things that happen at the same time. All of these three phrases refer to the point in time when a person is saved. They just look at different aspects of what it means to be saved from sin.

When we commit sin, we are guilty before God of breaking the law (I John 3:4). Thus when we are saved we are justified by God. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:21-26).

When we commit sin, we have corrupted our souls. "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" (II Timothy 2:19-21). When we are saved, we are purified and set apart for a special purpose by God; that is, we are sanctified. "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Hebrews 2:10-11).

When we commit sin, we have dirtied our souls. "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6). By accepting the teachings of God, we are given a way to clean up our lives. "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21). Baptism is a part of this, not the removal physical filth, but spiritual uncleanness. "There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21). That is why baptism is referred to as a washing. "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).

Salvation from our sins is looked at and described from a variety of viewpoints, but they all refer to salvation.

"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:26-31).

The point being made is that when a person has been saved, has "received the knowledge of the truth" and then purposely turns his back on that truth, he can expect to face God's full anger.

Peter described it in this manner:

"For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."" (II Peter 2:20-22).

The reason Peter called it better to have not known is that there is at least some hope of persuading a person out of their sins. Once a person rejects the only way out of sin, there is no more hope.