I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness. So what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification — and the end is eternal life! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The wonderful fact is, that not only are we forgiven for our sins, but we are also freed from the power of our sins. Though our nature was corrupted as it lived “according to the course of this world” (Eph 2:1-3), it can also be transformed as we walk according to the Spirit of God. Before we were “conformed” from without, now we can be “transformed” from within (Rom 12:1-2). This transformation is not merely outside like those that followed the law of Moses, for Jesus told us that Christian righteousness must “exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees” who followed the letter of the law, but didn’t “walk according to the Spirit” (Matt. 5:20, Rom. 8:3-4, 2 Cor. 3:6-9). We don’t merely clean the outside of the cup, like the Pharisees, but we are cleansed from within by the Spirit of God. When God comes to live in us, He begins the process of reforming and restoring our nature as He intended it to be in the beginning. As we submit to this process, he begins to transform not only our actions, but He begins writing the “righteous requirements of the law” on “our hearts” (Rom 8:4, Rom 2:15). He works in us to “will and to work for His good pleasure“ (Phil 2:13). After forgiving us through the sacrifice of Christ, He begins to conform us to the image of Christ. Continue reading “Understanding Transformation (Sanctification Series #3)”
We are called to complete/entire sanctification unto the Lord as these two passages make it clear:
2 Corinthians 7:1
“Therefore, dear friends, since we have such promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, completing our sanctification in the fear of God.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Continue reading “The Vision of Entire Sanctification (Sanctification Series #4)”
How do we practically walk out sanctification? Though the source of a holy life is God’s enlightening and empowering grace, there are three things we must do to be co-laborers with God in our sanctification.
“So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
First, we must believe that through the death of Jesus Christ we have died to sin, and through his resurrection we now live to God. This is not something we have to obtain by our own power or holiness, it is something we must believe by faith. If we don’t believe that Christ has already won the victory we will quickly quit the race. We will despair as we look upon our own weakness. But if we look to what Christ has done for us and believe that he has saved us from the power of sin by this death and resurrection we will be moved to pray and act accordingly.
Continue reading “The Essentials of Sanctification (Sanctification Series #5)”
…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.
When the people of Israel came out of bondage in Egypt God provided them bread from heaven called manna. But as soon as they crossed the Jordan River and entered the land of Canaan the manna stopped appearing. At that time they begin to work the ground in order to produce a harvest. Some would say the first type of provision was a miracle and the second was natural, but this is incorrect. Wheat coming from the ground is just as miraculous as bread coming from heaven. The Creator provides both by His grace. The difference is not that one way of providing is miraculous while the other is natural. The difference is that in one scenario God provides the food without the cooperation of men, while in the second men have a role to play.
Understanding this distinction can be helpful in understanding how a healthy and steady growth in sanctification occurs. Only God can sanctify a human heart, just as only God can send rain, sunshine and transform the seed into a fruitful plant. But we do have a role to play. Just as the farmer must till the soil, plant the seed and guard the seedlings, so there are some practical things we must do to ensure that what God works in us will develop in a consistent manner. Continue reading “Spiritual Disciplines (Sanctification Series #6)”
Holiness is Not Optional
In Matthew 5:8 Jesus told us that only the pure in heart will see God. And Hebrews 12:14 tells us that without holiness no one will see God. From this we understand that holiness is not optional. Though we are saved by grace through faith, we are saved for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). So we must not make the mistake of imagining that sanctification is just a bonus of salvation which we can take or leave as we see fit. We are saved from sin for holiness, just as the ancient Hebrews were saved from slavery for freedom. If we refuse to walk in the salvation God has provided we will be judged. Continue reading “Necessity of Holiness (Sanctification Series #7)”
The Fear of the Lord
The Bible teaches that the first motivation given for holiness is the fear of the Lord. Psalm 111:10 declares, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” And Proverbs 16:6 teaches us, “One turns from evil by the fear of the Lord.” Repentance is the first thing we are commanded to do to be reconciled to God, and repentance is first motivated by a holy dread of God and His just punishment. Continue reading “Motivations for Holiness (Sanctification Series #8)”
Christ taught that he is the only Master. We are all called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. For this reason many people imagine that they can follow Jesus on their own. But Christ commanded us to “make disciples.” We don’t make them into our disciples in the sense that we are their Masters. But as Paul put it, we must call them to “follow us as we follow Christ.” Christ makes disciples through the Church. A person that has not been discipled through the Body of Christ, has not been discipled by Jesus Christ. A person that insists he will only follow Jesus Christ and not submit to any man, is not following Jesus Christ nor submitted to him. Continue reading “Make Disciples (Sanctification Series #9)”
“…it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”
When we come to faith in Christ, God testifies directly to our spirits that we have been adopted into His family. As we continue to walk with Christ, God continues to confirm our membership in His family by working the character of Christ inside of us. Since no one can desire or perform God’s will on a consistent basis without the saving grace of the Holy Spirit, such desire and performance is a sign of God’s saving power. Continue reading “Divine Fruit (Assurance of Salvation Series #4)”
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…
In our last lesson we learned that saving faith assures us that our sins have been forgiven through Christ. If faith by its very nature brings us assurance, then why do we need anything else? It would seem that the evidence of faith is all we would ever need. But the world in which we live is more perilous, and our natural weaknesses much greater, than we sometimes realize. Our faith, and with it our assurance, can be battered from many directions. For this reason God graciously gives us other ways to be assured of our salvation. These added means of assurance confirm the evidence of our faith. Continue reading “The Witness of the Spirit (Assurance of Salvation Series #3)”
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Convicting grace shows us the consequences of our sin and our inability to save ourselves. This convicting, or convincing, grace should always be accompanied by two commands. The first is the command to repent of our sins; the second to place our trust in Jesus Christ. Convicting grace makes repentance from our sins possible, and repentance makes faith in Christ possible. Before talking about the assurance that faith brings, let’s review how we are led to faith. Continue reading “Faith is the Evidence (Assurance of Salvation Series #2)”