Sanctification (Growing in Likeness to Christ)

Transcript June 15

Introduction

Weekly Bible Study 15TH June 2021 Topic: Sanctification (Growing in Likeness to Christ) Text:1 Thess. 5:23 INTRODUCTION Some questions that we will address are: 1. How do we grow in Christian maturity? 2. What are the blessings of Christian growth? Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us freer and freer from sin and like Christ in our actual lives. A. DİFFERENCES BETWEEN JUSTİFİCATİON AND SANCTİFİCATİON. The following specifies several differences between justification and sanctification: 1. Justification is legal standing while Sanctification is an Internal condition. 2. Justification is once for all time while sanctification is continuous throughout life. 3. Justification is entirely God’s work while in sanctification, we cooperate. 4. Justification is perfected in this life while sanctification is not perfect in this life. 5. Justification is the same in all Christians while sanctification is greater in some than in others. Although the initial saving faith by which we are justified occurs only at the time of conversion, faith and repentance do continue throughout our lives as well. Similarly, although regeneration, justification, and adoption are instantaneous one-time events that occur at the beginning of the Christian life, the results of all of these continue throughout life: we continue to have the spiritual life we receive from regeneration, the legal standing we receive from justification, and the membership in God’s family we receive from adoption. B. THREE STAGES OF SANCTİFİCATİON. 1. Sanctification Has a Definite Beginning at Regeneration. A definite moral change occurs in our lives at the point of regeneration, for Paul talks about the “washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Once we have been born again we cannot continue to sin as a habit or a pattern of life (1 John 3:9), because the power of new spiritual life within us keeps us from yielding to a life of sin. This initial moral change is the first stage in sanctification. In this sense, there is some overlap between regeneration and sanctification, for this moral change is actually a part of regeneration. But, when we view it from the standpoint of moral change within us, we can also see it as the first stage in sanctification. Paul looks back on a completed event when he says to the Corinthians, “But you were washed, you were sanctified you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). Similarly, in Acts 20:32 Paul can refer to Christians as “all those who are sanctified.” This initial step in sanctification involves a definite break from the ruling power and love of sin so that the believer is no longer ruled or dominated by sin and no longer loves to sin. Paul says, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus....For sin will have no dominion over you” (Rom. 6:11, 14). Paul says that Christians have been “set free from sin” (Rom. 6:18). In this context, to be dead to sin or to be set free from sin involves the power to overcome acts or patterns of sinful behaviour in one’s life (Rom. 6:12–13). To be dead to the ruling power of sin means that we as Christians, by virtue of the power of the Holy Spirit and the resurrection life of Christ working within us, have the power to overcome the temptations and enticements of sin. Sin will no longer be our master, as once it was before we became Christians. In practical terms, this means that we must affirm two things to be true. On the one hand, we will never be able to say, “I am completely free from sin,” because our sanctification will never be completed. But on the other hand, a Christian should never say, “this sin has defeated me. I give up. I have had a bad temper for thirty-seven years, and I will have one until the day I die, and people are just going to have to put up with me the way I am!” To say this is to say that sin has gained dominion. It is to allow sin to reign in our bodies. It is to admit defeat. It is to deny the truth of Scripture, which tells us, “You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). It is to deny the truth of Scripture that tells us that “sin will have no dominion over you” (Rom. 6:14). This initial break with sin, then, involves a reorientation of our desires so that we no longer have a dominant love for sin in our lives. 2. Sanctification Increases Throughout Life. Even though the New Testament speaks about a definite beginning to sanctification, it also sees it as a process that continues throughout our Christian lives. Although Paul says that his readers have been set free from sin (Rom. 6:18) and that they are “dead to sin and alive to God” (Rom. 6:11), he nonetheless recognizes that sin remains in their lives, so he tells them not to let it reign and not to yield to it (Rom. 6:12–13). Their task, therefore, as Christians are to grow more and more in sanctification, just as they previously grew more and more in sin: “Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification”. Paul says that throughout the Christian life “we all...are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18). We are progressively becoming more and more like Christ as we go on in the Christian life. Therefore he says, “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13– 14)—this is in the context of saying that he is not already perfect but he presses on to achieve all of the purposes for which Christ has saved him (vv. 9–12). . It is the expectation of all the New Testament authors that our sanctification will increase throughout our Christian lives. 3. Sanctification Is Completed at Death (for Our Souls) and When the Lord Returns (for Our Bodies). Because there is sin that still remains in our hearts even though we have become Christians (Rom. 6:12–13; 1 John 1:8), our sanctification will never be completed in this life. But once we die and go to be with the Lord, then our sanctification is completed in one sense, for our souls are set free from indwelling sin and are made perfect. The author of Hebrews says that when we come into the presence of God to worship we come “to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12:23). This is only appropriate because it is in anticipation of the fact that “nothing unclean shall enter” into the presence of God, the heavenly city (Rev. 21:27). However, when we appreciate that sanctification involves the whole person, including our bodies (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thess. 5:23), then we realize that sanctification will not be entirely completed until the Lord returns and we receive new resurrection bodies. We await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ from heaven, and he “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21). It is “at his coming” (1 Cor. 15:23) that we will be made alive with a resurrection body and then we shall fully “bear the image of the Man of heaven” (1 Cor. 15:49) we are slaves to sin prior to conversion, (1) that there is a definite beginning to sanctification at the point of conversion, (2) that sanctification should increase throughout the Christian life, (3) that sanctification is made perfect at death. 4. Sanctification Is Never Completed in This Life. When Jesus commands us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48), this simply shows that God’s own absolute moral purity is the standard toward which we are to aim and the standard for which God holds us accountable. The fact that we are unable to attain that standard does not mean that it will be lowered; rather, it means that we need God’s grace and forgiveness to overcome our remaining sin. Similarly, when Paul commands the Corinthians to make holiness perfect in the fear of the Lord (2 Cor. 7:1), or prays that God would sanctify the Thessalonians wholly (1 Thess. 5:23), he is pointing to the goal that he desires them to reach. He does not imply that any reach it, but only that this is the high moral standard toward which God wants all believers to aspire. John’s statement that “No one who abides in him sins” (1 John 3:6) does not teach that some of us attain perfection, because the present-tense Greek verbs are better translated as indicating continual or habitual activity: “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6 NIV). This is similar to John’s statement a few verses later, “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 NIV). If these verses were taken to prove sinless perfection, they would have to prove it for all Christians, because they talk about what is true of everyone born of God, and everyone who has seen Christ and known him. In the New Testament, we find Jesus commanding his disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins as we also have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matt. 6:11–12, Just as the prayer for daily bread provides a model for a prayer that should be repeated each day, so the prayer for the forgiveness of sins is included in the type of prayer that should be made each day in a believer’s life Moreover, as Christians grow in maturity, the kinds of sin that remain in their lives are often not so many sins of words or deeds that are outwardly noticeable to others, but inward sins of attitudes and motives of the heart—desires such as pride and selfishness, lack of courage or faith, lack of zeal in loving God with our whole hearts and our neighbours as ourselves, and failure to fully trust God for all that he promises in every situation. These are real sins! They show how far short we fall of the moral perfection of Christ. The more sanctified the person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God. The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater the intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will he be of the gravity of the sin that remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it.

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