In Lesson 5 we learned that when we were buried with Jesus in baptism in His name, our relationship to Adam was broken and our death to sin became an accomplished reality from God’s perspective. It is a spiritual fact that sin will no longer have dominion over us, and since we have a spiritual union with Christ we become partakers of His death to sin. That’s why Paul said in Col 3:3-4:
“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
There are positive and negative consequences depending upon our choices after we obey the gospel message:
Rom 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:12-13 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Sanctification has both a negative and positive aspect. Negatively it is separation from evil, and positively it is consecration to God and His holy character. It might be said that sanctification is the “growing emancipation from all evil, and a growing enrichment in all good.” It should be self evident that In order to be made holy we must receive the Spirit of holiness through the New Birth experience.
Lev 11:44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy:
1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
When we repent of our sins and are born of the water and the Spirit as we studied in Lesson 4, “The Promised Seed of Abraham”, we become new creatures in Christ. We are a new species we are still Homo sapiens in the flesh, but, the new birth produces something radically different than the “old man”, having a completely new set of instincts and moral values.
Paul explains it like this:
2Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Paul says we need to remove our “old nature” and put on the new one:
Eph 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
is both a completed action and an ongoing process
Our sanctification is both positional and progressive. The Scripture speaks of us
as having been sanctified in the past and even calls us saints (holy ones):
1Co 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
1Co 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Heb 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Christ is said to have become our sanctification (I Corinthians 1:30):
1Co 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
When we placed our faith in Him we were sanctified, or set apart to Him, and from those who do not believe (Acts 26:18). Sanctification, like justification, is not a work of human merit, but comes by faith in God.
Act 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
The Agent of Sanctification
What is the relationship between the activity of the Spirit and the activity of man in developing sanctification? Is sanctification received purely by faith, or is their human effort involved? The Scripture indicates that both grace and effort work together in sanctification. It is neither entirely passive nor entirely active,but both active and passive.
Jason Dulle expresses how the cooperative efforts of God and man work together:
“The Scripture is clear that sanctification is something we receive from God. The church is being sanctified by Jesus Christ so that He can present it to Himself a glorious church without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:26-27). It is the God of peace that sanctifies us (I Thessalonians 5:23), and by His grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, living godly and sober lives (Titus 2:14). It is Christ which works in us that which pleases Him (Hebrews 13:20-21; See also II Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; II Thessalonians 2:13; Colossians 1:21). Paul told the Romans that they were to be transformed by the renewing of their mind. “Transformed” is a present passive, indicating that this was an action they were to passively receive, not one in which they were to actively pursue. Yet in the previous verse they were beseeched to present their bodies to God as a living sacrifice in holiness (Romans 12:1), and a few verse later were enjoined to hate evil and cling to that which is good (Romans 12:9). Believers are instructed to mortify the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13), and to yield ourselves to God in righteousness (Romans 6:13). These two Biblical perspectives are not contradictory, but rather complimentary. God puts the desire to live right within man, and gives Him the ability to do so, but man must act upon God’s inner working to make it effective.”
Is Perfection Possible?
There is much debate among Bible scholars regarding the idea of perfection in sanctification. There are many “perfection” scriptures:
1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Eph 4: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
However, when the “perfection” Scriptures are understood in their context it can be seen that absolute moral perfection is not the intended meaning. The Greek teleios, translated as “perfect,” refers to and end, completion, or maturity, not absolute perfection. When Jesus said for us to be perfect, He was not referring to moral perfection, but spiritual maturity. Romans 3:23 teaches us that not only have all sinned, but that all (including saints) fall short of God’s glory. “Fall short,” – The idea is that every human being continually falls short of God’s glory. This does not mean that we continually sin, but that none of us ever match up to God’s perfect standards. Our only hope is to stand in Christ’s perfect sanctification. We must conclude that the goal of the Christian life is spiritual maturity in this life, and moral perfection in the next. Although moral perfection is something to which we strive by the grace of God, we shall never attain sinless perfection in this life.
The Relationship of Justification and Sanctification in the Life of the Believer
Now that we have in, this series, discussed both the doctrine of justification and sanctification, how do the two correlate with one another? What is the relationship between the two? God’s grace and sanctification are both necessary for a healthy Christian life. These two components can be understood as dependence and discipline, or reliance and effort. We depend on God’s grace for our justification and sanctification, yet we also work together with God, exerting personal effort to accomplish the goal of sanctification. God’s grace is not only God’s unmerited favor towards us in justification, but it also actually gives us the ability whereby we are able to perform His will (Romans 12:3; I Corinthians 3:10; 15:10; Galatians 2:8; I Peter 4:10-11). God enables us to work, but He does not do the work for us. Justifying faith is passive, but sanctifying faith is active, working together with God’s grace. God does not make our effort unnecessary, but rather makes it effective.