Justified in Christ, Sanctified by the Spirit – Part two

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 22-24)

At our last time together we began a discussion on justification and sanctification and today we will conclude our time together learning from God’s Word. At our last meeting we looked at justification and learned that it is not a process for it is not something that we ourselves can do. There is no way that a man through good will or actions can accomplish being justified before God. We cannot ourselves go back and erase the errors of our past and remove the effects that those errors have had on others and God. There is only one way to be justified and that is for the judge to declare us justified. There is only one judge that has that power and that is Jesus Christ, the just and the justifier. “This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25-26) It is through Him that we can receive forgiveness and it is God who can remove the sin in our life and remember them no more. “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12) Justification occurs at the moment of our salvation and is a given by our confession of faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Once we have been declared righteous through Christ it can never be repealed.

Where as justification is instantaneous sanctification is a process that is the work of the Holy Spirit within us. The Greek word for sanctify is hagiazo. Hagiazo carries the meaning to make holy or to purify. In the truest sense of the word only God is Holy. (Isaiah 6:3) God is distinct and there is no comparison to God. God is separate from all His creation. “I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me” (Isaiah 45:5) No other created creature shares in the holiness and nature of God. Yet, man was created in His image and is called to be holy. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) As ones who have been called to be holy we are saints. As saints then we are involved in the process of being sanctified in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sanctification then is a process in which God works in and through us to transform us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. On our part it is an act of our repentance in that we have turned away from the old way of thinking and think in terms of God’s Word applied in our lives. We have turned away from the old sinful ways and now seek the paths of righteousness. As followers of Christ the Christian is becoming a new creature in Christ. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Sanctification works by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. As we study, meditate and apply God’s Word to our lives the counselor guides us to all truth for living our life. Our way of living comes into line with the mind of Christ who dwells within. As we place His words of truth into our hearts it will conform our way of thinking controlling our actions to live in a righteous manner. It is a renewed thought process that is of the Kingdom to come and not of the kingdom of this passing world. We are no longer of this world but citizens of the Kingdom of God and as His we should live as His. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Justification is a gift by God’s grace but sanctification requires effort on our part. It is why we must place ourselves in the gathering of His Church for the encouragement and accountability of our fellow members of the body of Christ. (Hebrews 10:25) We are to spend time in prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17), studying God’s Word and meditation to write it upon the tablet of our heart. (Proverbs 7:3) Unlike justification, sanctification causes a conflict within ourselves.

As we are not of this world we are still in this world. Wherever there is a presence of sin there will be a conflict for the believer. For the Apostle Paul, and us, there will be a constant wrestling between the spirit and the flesh. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans. “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:15-24) To resolve this conflict requires an ongoing process of letting God work though us setting us apart from the wrong actions in our life and growing in spiritual maturity to become more like Him.

As the Christian believer grows in the trials they have in overcoming the sin in their life they will find that even as sin remains in their life its control is weakening. The difference then becomes that even as sin is in the life of the believer the believer is not living in that sin.

God in His infinite wisdom and mercy has provided a way for the Christian believer to overcome the desires of the flesh. As sanctification is a process neither is the struggle over for the believer on this side of the river. Being a creature of free will it becomes a matter of the way we choose to live. Either in seeking the righteousness of the Lord or living in the way that leads to destruction. “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh– for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:12-13) Once we were dead in sin now we must put sin to death.

As we do, we and those around us will see a change in our life, they will see that which they want for themselves in their life. The life of the Christian in the Spirit of Truth will produce the qualities of the image of Christ we are growing into. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) As this process of sanctification continues its course the work that the Lord has begun in us will come to its completion. We will take the attributes of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18) This is the spiritual reward of sanctification. To be sanctified is to be set apart for God, to become a part of His Holy Nation. Throughout our time here in this world we will become more holy as we grow in the image of His Son Jesus Christ.

Like justification, sanctification is the work of God’s grace. Through God’s grace we are able to die to the sin in our life and live in the Spirit of Truth set in the will of God. When we reach the yonder side of the river and stand in the presence of God almighty we will truly then be free. No longer will the presence and power of sin be about us, as we will be glorified. We entered into the journey along the narrow king’s highway justified by Christ through faith and now in the presence of our King we will be fully sanctified. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, May 26, 2015

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