“[I]t is not only justification but sanctification that has been merited by Christ. The merit of Christ, then, does not make sanctification optional but in fact a necessary part of salvation. Your sanctification is rooted in the merit of Christ. Christ has not only merited the right and title to heaven for his people, he has also merited the regeneration and progressive sanctification of his people. Both are grounded in the merit of Christ.
“You can see the connection between imputed righteousness and sanctification in Romans 8:9-13.
“The Roman Catholic Church rejects the notion that the ordinary Christian can and should have full assurance that they will go to heaven. They argue that this will lead to license for sin. It will breed carnal security. For if heaven is already in the bag, then why bother living a holy life? But the paradox of the gospel is that it is precisely the opposite. Only if you have full assurance of your right and title to heaven on the ground of the merit of Christ can you begin to fight against your sins. Only the believer who is fully assured that they are glory-bound is able to get up after they have sinned and move foreward in the confidence that their sins do not condemn them.
“The imputed merit of Christ, then, so far from leading to license for sin, is in reality the only way the believer can have any hope of fighting against sin and making progress in sanctification.