The term salvation is a summary of all the specific blessings of God in making me His own. This miracle of spiritual birth has a past, present, and future aspect. In 1 Corinthians 6:11, God reminds us of our present condition by using three specific words to describe the fullness of His work in us.
Each phrase in this verse describes an action of God doing His work in the name of the Lord Jesus and accomplishing it by the Holy Spirit. Each is a permanent work that does not need to be repeated. None can be undone by us, nullified by the enemy, or reversed by our Father. This is an act of God demonstrating His faithfulness.
“Washed” does not refer to the foot-washing that the Lord Jesus performed on His disciples, but to the bathing that He spoke of as taking place once – symbolized by baptism. Washed refers to the defilement of sin which needed to be forgiven once for all. It refers to the stain of sin which is present in every person, with the exception of Christ Jesus. When we believed in Christ, we were washed and fully cleansed in the blood of the Lamb.
“Sanctified” simply means to be set apart. We use it in reference to being set apart from sin, and that is the practical out-working of God’s full effort of sanctification. The book of Hebrews reminds us that we are sanctified as believers once and for all. God set us apart for Himself the moment that we confessed Christ as our Savior. This did not stop us from sinning, but meant that we were forever separated from condemnation, death, destruction, and the punishment that we deserved.
“Justified” is our position, because God declares us righteous in His sight. This does not make us righteous, but declares that we are in a right standing before a holy God. We still have a tendency to sin, but God looks at us in Christ and sees His righteousness, and so has the authority to declare us righteous. He wants us to live up to that statement and behave righteously until we are with Christ forever.
These three aspects of God’s work are the act of a moment, and are finalized by His salvation. God moved us and filth and washed, from being slaves of sin to being set apart to God, from standing under God’s condemnation to standing in the righteousness of Christ! JJ