In the previous article we spoke in passing of sanctification. Sanctification is one of the last steps in the order of salvation but is not last in importance.
In sanctification the divine purpose of our salvation, the glory of God, begins to be fulfilled. Sanctification as to do with holiness (the word means "to make holy"), and in the holy lives of God's people, they beginning to show the glory of God and of His grace.
Sanctification, then, is the life-long work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of believers by which they are made holy, delivered from the filthiness and power of sin, and begin to live in obedience to God and to His Word. It begins with regeneration and ends with death and glorification.
In distinction from justification, sanctification is (1) a work of Christ in us (justification is Christ's work for us); (2) a life-long work (justification is once only); (3) a work in which we become active (in justification we are passive); and (4) a work that removes the depravity of our sin (justification removes its guilt).
Justification is like an immigrant becoming legally a citizen of another country. Having become a citizen, however, he begins to learn the language, wear the clothing, eat the food, and adopt the customs of his new land - to live like a citizen of that country. That is like sanctification. In it God's people learn to live the life of heaven.
Yet, sanctification is all of grace. We learn nothing of ourselves but are "taught of God" in sanctification. Though we become active in holiness and good works, it is always God who works in us "both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).
When we are sanctified, our salvation is not turned over to us, so that we become alone responsible for it. In sanctification we do not suddenly begin to cooperate with God, so that our salvation is no longer wholly of grace.
Though we do good works (Eph. 2:8-10) in sanctification, there is still no merit in them. Though we obey, we still have no reason to boast. Our holiness, too, is a gift of God and all the glory and praise of our sanctification belongs to Him.
Nor is sanctification optional. Some seem to think so. They speak of "carnal Christians" and deny the Lordship of Christ in the life of Christians (that Christ is Lord in our lives means that all of our life belongs to Christ). They are wrong.
Sanctification is different from justification but follows necessarily from it. When a person is found innocent of wrongdoing, he must be released from prison. So, having been found innocent before God through our justification, we must in the justice of God be released from the prison of depravity and sin. In sanctification we are!
Hebrews 12:14 shows us the impossibility of a Christian remaining unsanctified. Without holiness "no man shall see the Lord!" Let us not think, then, that holiness is optional or unimportant. It is that work of grace by which God is glorified in His people. As we read in Isaiah 43:21, "This people have I formed for myself; they SHALL show forth my praise." Grace guarantees it.
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 15
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address317 North Park St.
State or ProvinceWA