||2013-12-13 10:54:59, 조회 : 1,691, 추천 : 376
| Chapter 8 |
Holy Living – Sanctification
In the last chapter we discussed the process of adoption and that we are now in God’s family. Now we will look at the “sanctification” process. Before we do, we must first understand that because we are now “righteous” in God’s eye doesn’t make sin disappear. Fellows says that “Many Christians live in the euphoria of conversion has imagined that he or she is done with sin forever”. However, we learned from the previous chapter that we “aim for perfection” (2 Corinthians 13:11) because we cannot achieve perfection in this life. When we are justified it means that: God is pardoning the sinner and declaring him righteous. The word that we must focus on is “declaring”. “When we are justified we are not righteous, but are declared righteous”. So what is sanctification and why is it needed? The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sanctification as:
“Sanctification is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness”.
Sanctification is a process in which we sin less and less. This basically is a life long process and won’t be complete until we reach the gates of heaven. “Sanctify, sanctuary, sanctification, holy” all come from the same root in biblical terms. To be “holy” is to “set apart” or “different”. For instance, during biblical times it was used for material things. Certain utensils, or rooms were considered holy. They were used only for special purposes. Some pots were used for cooking meats from the sacrifices. The word “holy” is also used to portray the Lord himself. In Psalms 99:5 it says
“Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy”.
God is set apart from other beings, thus God’s people were to be holy. We must be different and live differently and implement a righteous lifestyle. Sanctification is a life-long practice of becoming more holy (more like Christ). The distinction between justification and sanctification is that “Justification is something done for us; sanctification is something done in us”. Fellows says that “Justification alone gives us the right to enter heaven; sanctification makes us fit to enter heaven”.
The necessity of sanctification
In Hebrews 12:14 it clearly says, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord”. This isn’t so that we can earn salvation, because we already know that salvation is only through grace alone. However, there are some churches that teach that although salvation is by grace, it doesn’t matter how you live your life. The reasoning behind that is “Well, I’m going to heaven anyways so what does it matter?” Nonetheless, there are several reason why sanctification is fundamental for the believer. Fellows highlights some of them for us:
1) Holiness glorifies God – In Ephesians 1:11-12 says “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory”. Salvation isn’t just solely for our gain, but also for God’s glory.
2) Holiness proves the reality of our faith – There are many people that claim they are Christians, however it could be that they’ve encountered a “highly emotional experience”. In Matthew 13:1-23 reiterates this possibility. In it, they talk about the parable of the sower. Some people receive the gospel and for a while may seem like true believer. But as time passes their interest falls away. The assessment of “true work” of God’s grace is “perseverance in the faith”. Fellows bluntly says “No matter how loudly we profess to be Christians, our profession is nullified by unholy living”. There are several verses in the bible that clarifies this for us. John says “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9).
3) Holiness or sanctification is a preparation for glory – Although we are ready for heaven (because God sees us sinless in Christ) doesn’t mean we will directly go to heaven as soon as we’re converted. God uses this time to prepare His children for glory. In Romans 8:29 shows us that God’s purpose for us in salvation is to conform us to His Son.
4) Holiness prepares us for the judgment – On the day of judgment, Jesus stated “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23). In these following verses, described the very thing that will happen on the Day of Judgment. Even “preachers and miracle workers” will be considered evildoers at the time. Although on the outside it may seem as if they were living righteously, many do not live holy. Fellows explains that “In the terrible day when all people will stand before God and give account of their lives, religious profession will not be the deciding factor as to whether we are accepted into heaven, but rather holiness of life and faithful following Jesus Christ”. It is important to note that “we are not saved by works, but are saved to do good works”. When faith is sincere, it is always accompanied by works.
The nature of sanctification
Now we will move on to the nature of sanctification. What happens during this process? Well, when a person is born again (regenerated) this marks the very beginning of a Christian and the sanctification progression. Although a new birth faces a long process of sanctification, nonetheless there is still a “radical change”. God implements the Holy Spirit in them to “radically break us with sin”. This is part of repentance as well. When we come to Christ we are coming to Him wholeheartedly. Paul says,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Although, it doesn’t deliver us totally from sin, it breaks the power of sin in our life. Fellows states “It will not prevent a lifetime struggle with sin, but it will ensure that a true believer will not be permanently engulfed by the power of sin, even if there are times in our lives when we seem to go backwards in our battle with sin”.
Another thing to note, is that sanctification is not instantaneous. Many people seem to think so. In Proverbs 4:18, says “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day”. Once more it coincides with what the Shorter catechism stated about “more and more to die unto sin”. Two things are happening as we die unto sin, we are also living to righteousness.
The means of sanctification
How does the process of conforming us to Christ actually happen? Although, justification is entirely, God’s work, sanctification is different because we are very much involved in it. Although we cannot sanctify ourselves, we do not just wait nonchalantly for God to work. There are means for sanctification:
1) The cross – Firstly, we are said to be crucified with Christ. Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20). This means that when Christ died for his people, his people died with him. Secondly, the cross is an influential to holiness. When we consider the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it motivates us to want to please him, who gave himself for us.
2) The Word of God – The Word of God plays a key part in the sanctification of Christians. As we listen or read the Bible, we are challenged and put into practice. Although it is our choice to read a lot or a little, not reading the Bible ensures that we will not be as holy as we might be. If we compare the Word to food (Hebrews 5:11-14) we can see that if we don’t eat and drink we do not grow. Likewise, with the Word we must give ourselves a consistent diet of the Scripture.
3) The power of God – “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). In God and the Holy spirit, we have the power to help us without daily lives in sanctification
4) Christian Fellowship – “Birds of a feather flock together” is a saying that many people use. It means that what you are, reflect the kind of people you choose to hang out with. Paul points out in 1Corinthians 15:33, “…Bad company corrupts good character”. We are indeed influenced by our friends. So if our friends were also Christian it should help us with our sanctification process.
5) Experience – Throughout life, we may experience a lot of enjoyable and painful occurrences. However, we must remember that God has His hands on everything (in which we call providence). In Romans 8:28 it states “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. God utilizes even the bad things for his glory and our good. In Psalms 119: 71 a psalmist says “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decree”. When we recognize that all things that happen is ultimately in the hand of Our Father, it will help us so that we may not be bitter or angry when certain experiences happen.
In this chapter, we learned that sanctification is God’s work and something we also give effort in. Fellows says it correctly,
“It is God who sanctifies us through and through – in spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). But we are the ones who must pursue holiness. May God help us to do that with all of our powers, relying on all of God’s power!”
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