Today we will be considering Catechism sections 1992-1995, which further describe and define justification.
Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. (Emphasis added)
This section restates what we have already seen: justification is merited for us by Christ, and makes us actually holy before God.
Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:
> When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight. (Emphasis added)
What is important to note here is that God does not impose salvation on us against our wills. He made us rational beings, which implies intellectual freedom, and He does not stomp all over human nature in order to force us to be saved. The greatness and mystery of Divine Providence is that God works out His purposes without breaking or compromising the natural order He has established. By His grace we are empowered to cooperate with Him in our justification by living holy lives and by freely assenting to the truths He has revealed, and above all by loving Him.
Justification is the most excellent work of God’s love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. … (Emphasis added)
Again, justification is given to us. We do not obtain it on our own. It is the gift of God to creatures who do not deserve it and who could never have attained it by their natural powers.
The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the “inner man,” justification entails the sanctification of his whole being. (Emphasis added)
I am pretty sure I have said this before but the radical division between justification and sanctification which the Reformers created was, I believe, a direct consequence of Luther’s scrupulosity. I am no Luther scholar by any means but to my layman’s eyes it seems pretty obvious that Luther could not accept the idea that he was fully reconciled to God by the Sacrament of Confession. He wanted assurance of salvation separated from personal holiness because he could not accept that he was actually forgiven in Confession and restored to God. (This paragraph is subject to revision or removal in the event that I am presented with sufficient reason to realize that my opinion is mistaken.)
But I digress.
The primary things to be learned from this portion of the CCC is that justification and sanctification are one thing, and they are given freely to us by God, and that He empowers us to cooperate with His grace.
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