Christianity 201

February 26, 2017

The Continuing Sanctification of the Believer

by Russell Young

The Word of God speaks of the need for believers to be continually sanctified. Those who will dwell in his presence must be holy. (Heb 12:14) Although the believer was cleansed of all sin through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness at the time of confession of faith, Paul spoke of the need for him or her to be “kept” blameless. In his benediction to the Thessalonians he wrote: “May God himself, the God of peace sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NIV)

Since all people are prone to sin, a person’s sanctification must be maintained. The writer of Hebrews has recorded that “Since that time (when he offered himself as a sacrifice) he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Heb 10:13─14 NIV) Accordingly, a process has been revealed as necessary since he refers to those “who are being made holy” as being perfect forever. Perfection has a condition attached.

The Lord spoke of the necessity of continued cleansing when he washed his disciples’ feet (Jn 13:8) and told Peter that unless he washed his feet, Peter would have no part with him even though he had had a bath; had been cleansed all over. Christ often spoke of the need for obedience which is part of the sanctification process. (Mt 7:21, Rev 22:14 KJV, Mt 28:20, Lk 11:28, Jn 8:51, Phil 2:12, 2Thess 1:8, 1 Jn 2:5) Sanctification is the absence of sin and “being kept blameless” is achieved through righteous living and through fulfilment of the law. John wrote: “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” (1 Jn 3:4 NIV) A few verses later John wrote that “No one who lives in [Christ] keeps on sinning.” (1 Jn 3:6 NIV) All of this is to say that personal and eternal sanctification will not be achieved by Christ without the confessor’s ongoing involvement. It is thorough voluntary submission to Christ that identifies the confessor as a believer, and through which eternal salvation is achieved.

A great misconception has invaded some of the church–that Christ will unilaterally sanctify the confessor. A person’s failure to humble him/herself through obedience will ultimately result in eternal separation from the presence of their God and Creator.

Paul wrote to the Philippians “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” (Philippians 2 12─16 NIV) Paul taught that the law–God’s standard of righteousness–was accomplished by the Spirit. “And so [God] condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3─4 NIV) That is, God’s righteous standards are to be achieved through the way a person lives.

God, the Spirit, can sanctify the believer “through and through” and can keep a person’s spirit, soul, and body blameless at the coming of the Lord provided that one is willing to be led, willing to be obedient, but being sanctified requires submission to the Lord, the one who accomplished it for himself and who is prepared to accomplish it for the believer. “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey-whether you are slaves to sin which leads to death or to obedience which leads to righteousness.” (Rom 6:16 NIV)

Popular Christian music readily praises God for all that he has done and for the redemption that Christ has accomplished through his sacrificial offering; however, the Lord’s continued work in the believer must also be appreciated by those who look forward to his coming and to their continued sanctification. His ministry in partnership with the believer has not been completed but is ongoing and essential for one’s eternal salvation. The Holy Spirit was given for that very purpose and he must be obeyed. (Heb 5:9) The thought continues to persist that Christ has done all that is required. He continues to enlighten, to lead and to empower the believer for victory but the victory over sin must still be fought if a person’s sanctification is to be completed.

July 9, 2012

True Versus Truth

Charles Price is the senior pastor of The Peoples’ Church, Toronto — once Canada’s one and only megachurch — and the host of the Living Truth TV and radio broadcasts. Charles is a the former head of Capernwray in the U.K. and author of several books.

1The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 11Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. ~ Hebrews 10: 1, 11-12 (NIV)

TrainTimetableExtract2

The message that came through the prophets, through the priests, through the angels and through Moses was all true but it was not the truth. Remember Jesus, in the upper room said “I am the truth.” John 14:6 records Jesus saying, “I am the way and the truth.” These previous messengers spoke truth, but Jesus was the truth.

Perhaps you travel frequently by train. You may have a timetable that tells you a train will leave the station and ten o’clock on Saturday morning and arrive at your destination at two fifteen. That may be true, and if you’re planning to catch the train, you hope it is — but the timetable, although it’s true, is not the truth. The timetable bears witness to the truth. What is the truth? The truth is the train. A timetable won’t get you anywhere. You can read the timetable, underline it, memorize it, sing it: it won’t get you anywhere. It’s true, but it’s only true in the sense that it bears witness to the truth which is the train. That’s the truth, that’s what the timetable is talking about. God’s revelation through the prophets, through the priests, through angels, through Moses is true but it’s like the timetable, which is pointing to the train.

I could paraphrase Hebrews 1:1 “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the timetable at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He’s given us the train.” Does that make sense? Everything that went before, pointed to Christ, but it didn’t take you anywhere. The priests could tell the people there was someone to go to, but they could not take them because the message of the Old Testament is that one day the train is going to pull into the station. But the problem is that when the train came, they did not receive him. They did not catch the train.

There’s nothing wrong with the law at all, but it’s only a shadow, it’s not the substance, it’s the timetable, it’s not the train. It won’t get you anywhere as Hebrews 10:1 explains: “it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.” Was it a waste of time? No, it was preparing people for what was coming.

One day the train will come.

Charles Price writing in the Our Journey
devotional booklet for August 2, 2009