Tag Archives: Sanctification

Spirit-Filled Souls Are Sanctified Souls

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Romans 6:22

This is the will of God, even your sanctification.

1 Thessalonians 4:3

Sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit which delivers us from the control of sin and transforms us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. God takes worldly thinking, fleshly habits, and unrighteousness behavior and convicts us of our wrongful thoughts, breaks our selfish patterns, and transforms our sinful actions through the Word of God, sacraments, prayer, circumstances, and Spirit-filled worship.

Sanctification is the progressive work of the Holy Spirit which creates Spirit-filled souls. He removes sinful imperfections as we are daily enabled to put off the bondages of sin and put on the life of Christ. Walking in the Spirit is actively attained for it involves continuous choices of faith and obedience. We passively receive the empowering of the Holy Spirit, but we purposely choose to appropriate his power for victory over the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil.

Fire is the chosen symbol of Heaven for moral passion. It is emotion aflame. God is love; God is fire. The two are one. The Holy Spirit baptizes in fire. Spirit-filled souls are ablaze for God. They love with a love that glows. They believe with a faith that kindles. They serve with a devotion that consumes. They hate sin with a fierceness that burns. They rejoice with a joy that radiates. Love is perfected in the Fire of God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Acts 2:1-4).

Samuel Chadwick, The Way of Pentecost (Berne, Indiana: Light and Hope, 1937), 21.

HT: Holiness Data Ministry

He Loved Me in My Sin

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

1 John 5:4-5

Jesus loves us as we are, but also loves us not to leave us as we are. He loved us in our sin, he loves us and forgives us of our sin, he loves us to deliver us from our sin , he loves us to give us victory over our sin, and he loves us to empower us to live apart from sin. Thank the Lord for his continual grace and patience in our fallenness.

The Savior did not love me that I might continue in my sin: He loved me in my sin that He might rescue me from my sin. From my sins, yes; from the penalty due to my sins, yes. But that is only half of the Gospel: from my sin. He died that I might live a life of holiness, delivered from my sin. He did not only die that my past might be forgiven and forgotten, and that I might go to heaven when I die; He died that the period in between forgiveness and heaven might be crammed with all the glory that our almighty Savior can pour into it.

Leith Samuel, “Grieve Not the Holy Spirit,” Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed. Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 260.

His Part, Our Part

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Phil. 2:12-13

When Evangelicals and other communions debate the nature of justification by faith alone, the Apostle Paul’s singular phrase, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12-13) is much discussed. Did Paul mean that our salvation is faith and works? Paul’s use of the word, “work,” is often sighted as proof that salvation is not “by faith alone” (Rom. 4:5). According to some, faith with works following achieve our acceptance before God on the Last Day.

However, the Apostle Paul’s use of “work” is not a work of accomplishing or earning our salvation: an attempt to achieve through our own efforts acceptance with God. No, this “work” is a living out of the life of faith: the indwelling Christ empowering us to make righteous choices and to live selfless lives.

How do we know what the Apostle Paul meant by “work”? In the writings of Paul, he never used justification (i.e., our acceptance with God) synonymously with the word, “salvation.” [Frank Thielman, The NIV Application Commentary: Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), 137] Salvation for Paul is not acceptance with God; but sanctification, our growth in Christ.

How are justification and sanctification different? Justification is a looking to God that receives Christ death as our death, his righteousness as our righteousness, and his life as our life. By grace through faith, we stand accepted before God.  Sanctification is progressively grasping Jesus’ victory over our sin by applying that victory in our daily attitudes and actions. Sanctification is living a life that is pleasing to God by being transformed into the image of Christ. Justification is a past event. Whereas, sanctification is an ongoing process.

The “fear and trembling” of which Paul speaks is a fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is not a fear of punishment, but the dread of hurting or breaking God’s heart by disappointing his plans and purposes for us. Our responsibility according to Paul is to pursue holiness of heart knowing that one day we must give an account to God for our life choices.

In turn, God promises divine enablement, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). “Work” here in the Greek means to energize and this energy produces the desire and ability in us to delight in God’s will and obey God’s word.

In summary, Philippians 2:13-14 teaches that human responsibility and divine empowering simultaneously cooperate together with the Holy Spirit to enable us to obey the words and do the works of Jesus.

Will you begin now? He may be working in you to confess to that fellow-Christian that you were unkind in your speech or act. Work it out. He may be working in you to give up that line of business about which you have been doubtful lately. Give it up. He may be working in you to be sweeter in your home, and gentler in your speech. Begin. He may be working in you to alter your relations with some with whom you have dealings that are not as they should be. Alter them. This very day let God begin to speak, and work and will; and then work out what He works in. God will not work apart from you, but He wants to work through you. Let Him. Yield to Him, and let this be the day when you shall begin to live in the power of the mighty Indwelling One.

F. B. Meyer, The Epistle to the Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1979), 110.

The Secret of a Believer’s Holy Walk

 

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14 ESV

Holiness is not legalism, holiness is the desire of our hearts to reflect in our lives the attitudes and actions of Jesus.

Day-by-day holiness is Jesus’ active obedience becoming our present obedience by the power of the Cross through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

Holiness is the Life of God in us: we trust the indwelling Christ who changes our hearts. The Holy Spirit creates right attitudes producing right character leading to right conduct in and through us.

The secret of a believer’s holy walk is his continual recurrence to the blood of the Surety, and his daily intercourse with a crucified and risen Lord. All divine life, and all the precious fruits of it, pardon, peace, and holiness, spring from the cross. All fancied sanctification which does not arise wholly from the blood of the cross is nothing better than Pharisaism.

If we would be holy, we must get to the cross, and dwell there; else, notwithstanding all our labour, diligence, fasting, praying and good works, we shall be yet void of real sanctification, destitute of those humble, gracious tempers which accompany a clear view of the cross.

Horatius Bonar, “The Root and Soil of Holiness”

The How of the Christian Life

Sanctification by Faith

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rom. 15:13

Being made right with God is by faith. Growing in grace and holiness is by faith. The Christian life is a life of faith. No formula. No checklists. No programs and procedures. The Christian life is faith in the person: Jesus (John 6:29). We stand on his promises, his victory, and his resurrection power. The how in the Christian life a is moment-by-moment trust in Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12: 2).

The unity of what salvation is: a single piece, and yet a flowing stream. I became a Christian once for all upon the basis of the finished work of Christ through faith; that is justification. The Christian life, sanctification, operates on the same basis, but moment by moment. There is the same base (Christ’s work) and the same instrument (faith). The only difference is that one is once for all and the other is moment by moment.

The whole unity of biblical teaching stands solid at this place. If we try to live the Christian life in our own strength, we will have sorrow; but if we live in this way, we will not only serve the Lord, but in place of sorrow He will be our Song. That is the difference. The how of the Christian life is the power of the crucified and risen Lord, through the agency of the indwelling Holy Spirit, by faith moment by moment (Rom. 15:13).

This is our calling through the agency of the Holy Spirit. We are not called to serve God just any way, but to know joy and peace in believing.

Francis A. Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer : A Christian Worldview, Vol. Three: True Spirituality (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1996), 273. [paragraphing mine].

 

What Motivates You?

Pleasing Him

So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.

2 Cor. 5:9

True motivation: our one desire is God, our one hunger is to love him, and our one reason for living is to please him.

We believers do need to be challenged to a life of committed discipleship, but that challenge needs to be based on the gospel, not on duty or guilt. Duty or guilt may motivate us for awhile, but only a sense of Christ’s love for us will motivate us for a lifetime.

Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994), 24-25.

HT: Of First Importance

 

What of Justification and Sanctification?

Righteous Status and Growth in Holiness

It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Romans 4:24-25

Justifying grace is God’s undeserved, loving commitment to rescue us from his wrath and judgment. In Christ, God delivers us from sin and transports us into his loving kingdom of forgiveness.  Justifying grace calls us to trust Jesus Christ as our savior, the one who has taken all our sin and just judgment upon himself. When we trust Christ by faith, his work of forgiveness begins by releasing us from our debt, transforming our hearts, and freeing us to live for him.

When we look to Christ in faith and believe that his death was our death and that his punishment was our judgment, we receive by God’s grace his righteousness. This righteous declaration is forensic in that the legal charges against us have been dropped and we have been declared in right standing with God. To be credited as righteous is to be conferred a legal standing of being forgiven and no longer liable to punishment.

Sanctifying grace is Jesus being the desire, ability, and power in us to respond to every life situation according to the will of God. Jesus is our desire for he works in us a hunger for holiness. Jesus is our ability for he enables us to make godly choices. Jesus is our power for he strengthens us to overcome the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil. Grace is the person, Jesus, living his life in and through us empowering us to live a righteous and holy life (2 Cor. 9:8, 2 Cor. 12:1-10, Titus 2:11-14). Sanctifying grace is Jesus living his life in us: this is the normal Christian life (1 Jn. 4:9).

Justification describes the position of acceptance with God which he gives us when we trust in Christ as our Saviour. It is a legal term, borrowed from the lawcourts, and its opposite is condemnation. To justify is to acquit, to declare an accused person to be just, not guilty. So the divine judge, because his Son has borne our condemnation, justifies us, pronouncing us righteous in his sight. ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Rom. 8:1).

Sanctification, on the other hand, describes the process by which justified Christians are changed into the likeness of Christ. When God justifies us, he *declares* us righteous through Christ’s death for us; when he sanctifies us, he *makes* us righteous through the power of his Holy Spirit within us.

Justification concerns our outward status of acceptance with God; sanctification concerns our inward growth in holiness of character. Further, whereas our justification is sudden and complete, so that we shall never be more justified than we were on the day of our conversion, our sanctification is gradual and incomplete. It takes a few moments only in court for a judge to pronounce his verdict and for the accused to be acquitted; it takes a lifetime even to approach Christlikeness. (paragraph editing mine)

John Stott, Your Confirmation, rev. edn. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1991), 38.

HT: Langham Partnership

 

Performance Orientation

Striving and Trying for God

Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.

Gal. 3:2 NLT

Performance orientation is attempting to earn God’s acceptance and love by our trying, striving, and laboring.

We suffer great exertion and struggle tremendously in our Christian walk. We long to live by the precepts of the Christian life. On a good day, our attitude and actions suggest some degree of Christian commitment. We think by our performance that God is obligated to bless us and reward us for walking according to his standards. We think of ourselves as “good little boys and girls” and that good things always happen to good people.  On our good days, we walk in self-righteous pride, and on our bad days, we plod along in discouragement and despair.

We have reverted back to living under the Law, we think we earn the blessing of the Holy Spirit by our performance. We think we deserve God’s rejection by our failures. We become frustrated with the Christian life, the up’s and down’s, the elation and the despair.

We have forgotten grace. We have forgotten that the Christian life is a person and that Jesus’ work on the Cross performed all we would ever need to be accepted by God. We have forgotten that Christ perfectly lived the law and died in our place that we might be accepted by God. We have forgotten that the Christian life is lived by faith trusting every day that Christ’s Cross has taken all our failed performances and nailed them to a tree.

We must remember that we are not accepted before God based on our performance, but we are accepted because of Christ’s beautiful performance on the Cross. We don’t perform the Christian life to be loved by God. We perform for God because know that we are loved and accepted in Christ.

We can begin each day with the deeply encouraging realization, I’m accepted by God, not on the basis of my personal performance, but on the basis of the infinitely perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.”

Jerry Bridges, Holiness Day-by-Day (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2008), 6.

 

 

“He Came to Make Us What He Teaches We Should Be”

The Sermon on the Mount

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matt. 5:3 NIV

It’s just impossible! Absolutely impossible! I thought to myself as I read the Sermon on the Mount for the first time. I can’t, and no one can, live and obey Jesus’ directives in this sermon. Three chapters of loving those who hate you, laying down your life for those who persecute you, and forgiving those who have used you. Not only are Jesus’ words difficult to keep, but also, these admonitions should be obeyed out of love with a joyful heart. This sermon is impossible to live. But, that’s the rub.

We can’t live the Sermon the Mount in our own power. We must be poor in spirit desperately needing God’s strength in our weakness (Matt. 5:3). We must be mourners, a people who grieve the state of our fallenness yearning for help (Matt. 5:4). We must hunger and thirst for righteousness for we have no means within ourselves to overcome the world’s influences, sin’s grip, and the devil’s temptations (Matt. 5:6). The Sermon on the Mount is lived not by being adequate, but by being available. That is, available to Christ’s all-powerful and sufficient grace (2 Cor. 9:8; 12:9).

The Sermon on the Mount can only be lived by trusting Christ to live his life in and through us (1 John 4:9). Only Christ successfully lived the Sermon on the Mount and he can do it again in us (Col. 1:27). By summary, the Sermon on the Mount is what our lives look like when Christ is having his way in us.

Beware of placing our Lord as Teacher first instead of Saviour. That tendency is prevalent today, and it is a dangerous tendency. We must know Him first as Saviour before His teaching can have any meaning for us, or before it can have any meaning other than that of an ideal which leads to despair. Fancy coming to men and women with defective lives and defiled hearts and wrong mainsprings, and telling them to be pure in heart! What is the use of giving us an ideal we cannot possibly attain? We are happier without it.

If Jesus is a Teacher only, then all He can do is to tantalise us by erecting a standard we cannot come anywhere near. But if by being born again from above  we know Him first as Saviour, we know that He did not come to teach us only: He came to make us what He teaches we should be. The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His way with us (emphasis mine).

Oswald Chambers, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, electronic ed. (Hants, UK : Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1996), 10.

 

Simple Faith

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Heb. 11:6 NLT). 

Faith is a response of the heart which receives what God has already done for us in Christ. Faith is relying on God’s character, standing on God’s promises, believing God’s Cross, and obeying God’s Spirit with a certainty that surpasses physical sight and human reasoning. Faith ignores bad circumstances, negative feelings, or discouraging thoughts to stand on God’s word and walk in his ways (Isa. 55:8-9). In short, faith simply believes what God says is true.

Just as salvation is by faith, so also is the exchanged life. Just as we accept the Lord Jesus by faith as Savior, so by simple faith we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Just as we took the Lord as our sin-bearer, we take the Holy Spirit as our burden-bearer. Just as we take the Savior as our penalty for sins that are past, we take the Holy Spirit for power over indwelling sins that are present.

The Savior is our atonement, the Holy Spirit is our advocate. In salvation we receive newness of life, by the Holy Spirit we find life more abundant. In each case the appropriation is by faith, and by faith alone, wholly apart from any feeling on our part.

V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret: Twenty Lives That Reveal a Touch of Eternity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 152.