Man's Two-Fold Problem with God: Sin's Guilt and Sin's Power
Humanity's primary issue in relation to God stems from the pervasive presence of sin, which manifests itself in two distinct ways: sin's guilt and sin's power. Sin's guilt refers to the culpability that every individual bears before God due to their transgressions and disobedience (Rom. 3:23), while sin's power denotes the enslavement and dominion of sin over human lives, leading to a perpetual state of moral corruption and spiritual death (Rom. 6:12-14). The double cure offered by Jesus Christ, therefore, aims to address both aspects of humanity's sin problem, providing a comprehensive solution that restores the believer's relationship with God.
The Double Cure: Justification and Sanctification
The double cure consists of two essential components: justification and sanctification. Justification addresses sin's guilt by declaring the believer righteous in the eyes of God through the imputation of Christ's righteousness (Rom. 5:1; 2 Cor. 5:21). Sanctification, on the other hand, deals with sin's power by progressively freeing the believer from the dominion of sin, leading to a life characterized by holiness and conformity to Christ's image (Rom. 6:6-7; 2 Cor. 3:18). These two dimensions of the double cure together constitute the comprehensive solution provided by Christ's redemptive work for humanity's dual problem with sin.
The dual nature of the double cure can also be understood through the biblical imagery of blood and water, both of which flowed from Jesus' side upon his crucifixion (John 19:34). The blood of Christ symbolizes his atoning sacrifice, which saves believers from the guilt of sin by securing their forgiveness and justification (Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:14). Conversely, the living water represents the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, who washes and keeps believers from the power of sin, enabling them to grow in holiness and righteousness (John 7:37-38; Titus 3:5).
Biblical Examples of the Double Cure
1) Romans 6:1-14: In this passage, Paul addresses the transformative power of Jesus' atoning work in setting believers free from sin's dominion. He emphasizes the believer's identification with Christ's death and resurrection, which is symbolically enacted through baptism (Rom. 6:3-5). By virtue of their union with Christ, believers are no longer slaves to sin but have been liberated to live in righteousness (Rom. 6:6-7, 11). Paul concludes the passage by exhorting the believers to present themselves to God as instruments of righteousness, resisting sin's power in their lives (Rom. 6:12-14). This passage demonstrates how the atoning blood of Christ, through the believer's union with Him, sets them free from the captivity of sin's dominion.
2) Hebrews 9:11-14: The author of Hebrews highlights the efficacy of Christ's atoning blood in contrast to the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant. Christ's sacrifice, unlike the blood of animals, is able to cleanse the believer's conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb. 9:14). In this passage, the atoning work of Jesus is depicted as having a transformative impact on the believer's life, setting them free from the dead works of sin and empowering them to serve God in holiness and righteousness. This example underscores the liberating power of Christ's blood in breaking the captivity of sin's dominion in the believer's life.
3) Colossians 2:13-14: In this passage, Paul discusses how the atoning work of Jesus has set believers free from sin's guilt. He writes that believers were once dead in their trespasses and sins, but God made them alive together with Christ, forgiving all their trespasses (Col. 2:13). Paul goes on to explain that the legal record of debt, which stood against the believers due to their transgressions, has been canceled and nailed to the cross of Christ (Col. 2:14). This passage demonstrates how the atoning blood of Jesus has provided forgiveness and removed the guilt of sin, setting believers free from the condemnation and consequences associated with their transgressions.
Faith in Jesus Christ: An Appeal to Save from Both Sin's Guilt and Power
When an individual places their faith in Jesus Christ, they appeal to him not only for salvation from sin's guilt but also for deliverance from its power. A genuine faith in Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, does not merely seek pardon from the consequences of sin but also desires liberation from sin's dominion and influence (Rom. 6:17-18; Gal. 5:24-25). This holistic understanding of salvation underscores the comprehensive nature of the double cure, which encompasses both justification and sanctification as essential components of the believer's reconciliation with God.
Christ's deliverance from sin's power involves a radical transformation of the believer's heart and mind, which extends to the alteration of their affections, including their love for sin. This transformation is primarily carried out by the Holy Spirit, who indwells the believer upon their conversion and continually works within them to conform their desires and inclinations to the will of God (Ezek. 36:26-27; Rom. 8:5-9).
The process of sanctification, which progressively liberates the believer from sin's power, is intrinsically tied to the renewal of their affections. As the Holy Spirit enables believers to grow in their understanding of God's holiness, their love for sin decreases, and they become increasingly repulsed by that which dishonors and grieves God (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:22-24). Consequently, the believer's love for righteousness and godliness deepens, as their desires and affections are realigned to reflect the character of Christ (Gal. 5:22-25; Phil. 2:12-13).
An essential aspect of this transformation of the believer's affections is the cultivation of a love for God and His ways. Jesus emphasized the significance of loving God with all one's heart, soul, mind, and strength as the foremost commandment (Mark 12:29-30). As the believer's love for God grows, their love for sin diminishes, as they increasingly recognize the destructive nature of sin and the beauty of holiness (1 John 2:15-17; Ps. 97:10). In this way, Christ's deliverance from sin's power not only changes the believer's behavior but also transforms their affections, leading to a genuine and enduring love for God and righteousness.
Moreover, the believer's union with Christ further reinforces this transformation of affections. As they abide in Christ and His Word, their love for sin is replaced by a love for the things that please God (John 15:4-5; Col. 3:1-3). The intimate relationship between the believer and Christ results in a growing conformity to His character, which includes the reshaping of their affections to align with God's desires (Rom. 6:11; Eph. 5:1-2).
In conclusion, the concept of the "double cure" provides a profound understanding of the multi-faceted solution offered by Jesus Christ in addressing humanity's dual problem with sin. By examining the intricacies of justification and sanctification, as well as the biblical examples from Romans 6:1-14, Hebrews 9:11-14, and Colossians 2:13-14, the Bible highlights the comprehensive nature of the double cure. Through the redemptive work of Christ, believers are liberated from the dominion of sin and absolved from the guilt of their transgressions, underscoring the transformative power of the salvation provided by Christ's atoning blood.