Sanctification - The Scope of Sanctification
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January 8, 2006 -

SANCTIFICATION (cont) - The SCOPE of sanctification:

1) THE RENEWING OF THE WHOLE PERSON - New life is imparted to the believer in regeneration (see lesson 23). At that moment we become a"new creation" - 2 Corinthians 5:17 - “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

However, along with the new life in Jesus, we continue to live in a fallen world full of sin and temptation. Renewal is required on an ongoing basis - Colossians 3:9-10 - “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices [10] and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Note the combination of tenses in this verse. They stress both the accomplished nature of sanctification and the ongoing process. Again, we’re reminded that there is both an immediate action of the Spirit in our lives ("a new creation") and a continuing activity of ongoing renewal required in Christian living. Both are included in the Biblical term "sanctification".

2) SANCTIFICATION AND THE MIND - Paul outlines the key role of the mind in the transformation of our beings - Romans 12:2 - "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Paul also teaches that all believers presently have the "mind of Christ" - 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 - “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. [15] The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. [16] "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.”

This is what re-establishes communication with the Spirit of God. Upon conversion, man receives a new orientation at the core of his being. But this is not the entire story. Because man lives "in the flesh" (as distinguished from after the flesh) and in a fallen world, he must constantly be involved in the feeding and renewing of the his mind. He must constantly submit and open his being to the "mind of Christ" in him - the spiritual control center. This is not an automatic process.

See Galatians 5:16-17, 24-26 - “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. [17] For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do....[24].... And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [25] If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [26] Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

Notice, there are enemies to the forward thrust of the Holy Spirit in my life. The Christian is more than a spectator in this inward battle. His job, Paul says, is to "walk by the Spirit.”

Here is an important point to clarify. A believer may possess the "mind of Christ" and yet be far from subjecting all his thoughts to that mind. Paul warns about this very tendency in 2 Corinthians 11:3 - “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” See also 2 Corinthians 10:5 - “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ....”

The basic task of all believers is to daily realign and reshape the natural thought patterns and values of our lives - to make them conform to the will of the Spirit, rather than the common values and norms of the culture in which we live. Of course, the Word of God is central in this process.

3) SANCTIFICATION AND THE WILL - Again, a basic victory has already been established at conversion - Galatians 5:24 - “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” And yet the Bible teaches it takes constant effort to live in the power and flow of that victory. There is still much to be shunned and denied in this life - Titus 2:11-12 - “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, [12] training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age....”

There is always this reminder in the Scriptures. We rest in the finished work of the cross of Christ. Yet we must still take up our cross daily as we follow Him. This word “sanctification” must always take into its scope both the reality of “Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27), and the process of “Christ formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). Legalism is the effort to be saved - “Christ in you” - by our own moral reform. Worldliness is the failure to crucify the sins of the flesh and have Christ formed in us. A failure to understand this distinction will always leave the church corrupt on one side of the issue or the other.

Sins of this present age have a life that presses against our resolve to follow Jesus. Remember that sins of the will also include inner attitudes and hidden desires - Matthew 5:21-22 - “You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' [22] But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.”

"Anyone who is angry"(22) literally means "anyone who is being angry" or "anyone who lives in anger". This is a person who has decided to carry his anger around - who has made his anger portable. Jesus teaches the attitudes we decide to bear are real choices. We are as responsible for them as for public deeds because we ought to have crucified bad responses.

Before salvation, man was unable not to sin - Romans 6:19-20 - “I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. [20] When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.” Now he has the capacity to surrender to his New Master, Jesus Christ, and find an increasing freedom from the dominion of sin.

4) SANCTIFICATION AND THE BODY - 2 Corinthians 7:1 - "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

a) Sexual impurity - 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 - “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; [4] that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor....”

Also, 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 - “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! [16] Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two will become one flesh." [17] But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. [18] Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. [19] Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, [20] for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”Because we have been purchased with Christ's redemptive blood, our bodies are now united to His. We are not acting independently when we sin in the body. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

b) Drunkenness and gluttony - Proverbs 23:20-21 - “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, [21] for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, “and slumber will clothe them with rags.

These are merely examples of the kinds of sins we commit with our bodies. One could easily include acts of personal violence, rage, revenge, greed, etc. Sanctification includes taking these types of sins with ruthless seriousness.