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Sanctification – Week 8 / February 20th
“By that (the New Covenant) will we have been sancti-
fied through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ
once for all.”
Sanctification is that holy progressive work of the Spirit of God, whereby, because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, the Christ follower is transformed into the image of Christ. As scripture puts it; we change from glory to glory.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Corinthians 3:18.)
A work that is complete
The atoning work of Jesus is once for all, all sufficient and all powerful. From God’s perspective we are already justified, sanctified and glorified.
“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God- and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption-that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans8:29-30) The call of God over the believer is to walk these truths out. This “walking” is called sanctification or discipleship! Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up the cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
A work in process
We are to see or consider ourselves as fully delivered from sin and imperfection seated now in Heaven with Christ. This is the exhortation that Paul gives us in the book of Ephesians. “But God….even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-6) We therefore see ourselves free from the power of any besetting sin or addiction! “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”(Romans 6:11) And, “For sin shall not have dominion over you.” (Romans 6:14) In other words we are to press forward, by the grace of God, to make our heavenly position an earthly reality! Or, to put it another way; by an unfolding process, we close the gap daily between what God says about us and what indeed we are. “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) In this “pressing toward” I avoid legalism and license! I am a slave of Jesus and I love it! (Romans 6:18)
A work of perfection
Are you perfect? You should be! Christian perfection constitutes living at the place of sanctification or transformation to which God’s Holy Spirit has brought you. It’s all about going forward spiritually and not looking back! We call this progressive perfection. John Wesley preached this doctrine very powerfully and was often misunderstood. He was not teaching instant perfection but progressive perfection! In other words do not backslide! Reflect the character of Jesus that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you.
“Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” (Philippians 3:16)
If you keep looking at Jesus you will keep changing. One day we shall see Him and be like Him! (I John 3:1-3)
A work of active appropriation
Christ’s character does not “rub off on us!” No, it is put on or appropriated by a decision of the will! In scripture this is not a suggestion but a command.
“…..that you put off…….the old man (woman) which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind (adjust your thinking or will) and that you put on the new man which was created according to God…” (Ephesians 4:22-24) Your mind is crucial to this process as it triggers your emotions which in turn drive your actions. When you agree with God, by obedience to His Word, His Holy Spirit guides your emotions bringing transformation to your actions. So Peter encourages us to “gird up the loins” of our minds (1 Peter 1:13) and Paul, in Romans, calls upon us to be transformed “by the renewing of our minds.” (Romans 12:1-2) As you look by faith upon Jesus, reflected in the pages of scripture, and allow the Holy Spirit to shine upon your sinful imperfections, you must obey and change by an act of your mind! Remember, very often it is not that we cannot change but that we will not! The power that lives in you is greater than anything on earth or in your heart.(1 John 4:4) You can change and must; for if you do not you will not ever see the Lord.
A work that honors God
As we have noted the Bible says that without holiness we shall not see the Lord.
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
Sanctification is truly the will of God for our lives (1Thessalonians 4:3) and it gives full expression to our verbal claims to love Jesus and be transformed into His likeness. It is something we embrace with joy since being in Christ we are taught to hate sin and loathe even the garment stained by it. (Jude 23) It is our longing desire and earnest expectation that we shall increasingly walk as Jesus walked!
‘He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1John2:6)
A prayer for the week:
Dear Lord Jesus, by dying on the cross for me You demonstrated a love for me that is truly amazing and beyond comprehension. You have transformed my life and, by this act of redemption, given me a longing to be like you and thus to be changed every day into your likeness. Help me to wait upon you so that, as I see you with the eye of faith, in the power of the Holy Spirit, I may be changed and bring honor and glory to your wonderful name.