We are sanctified in the same way that we are saved. By Grace through Faith.
This is a bedrock, foundational principle. This is Christianity 101, First day of school.
Yet, practically speaking, this is probably the least believed biblical principle — even among mature believers.
Grace and Works Cannot Mix
Every Christian understands that they are not saved by works. That his works do not accomplish the redemption of his soul. That there are no “wages” involved in salvation. We cannot work for “righteousness credits” that God will apply to our account.
The entire concept of working for wages only applies to sin. The Bible claims, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). Sin earns death.
Acts of Goodness do not earn life. Nor does trying to be Good earn life. Wages have nothing to do with it. “Wages” have to do with Work.
Do you see the point? Work is work; Grace is grace. And never the twain shall meet.
We do not live by two contrary principles. We do not live in some mythical “balance” of the two.
Salvation is a PERSON
Now, I have known many Christians that have struggled with the concept of Eternal Security. They are constantly monitoring if they are righteous enough to be saved. And usually, they are miserable due to some besetting sin that they can’t shake. Or just due to the fact that sin catches us all eventually. Despite our best efforts, we fail.
And so, they doubt whether they are truly saved. And there are denominations that often teach this error. The Holiness movement, the Pentecostals, the Nazarenes, the Charismatics and others often struggle with this issue of whether someone can lose their salvation.
But, following this theology could be compared to a farmer who pulls up his plants everyday to see if they are growing roots. A plant cannot become healthy that way; and it will most likely die. Either it is planted correctly or it is not.
Quite simply, one cannot lose his salvation. The only way that could happen is if salvation were dependent on one’s own performance or inner strength.
But, praise God that we are saved by Christ! He holds us in His hand. We do not hold ourselves in His hand.
He, Himself, IS our salvation. So unless the Person of Christ can go “bad” or lose His “holding power”, we are safe and secure forever.
“… for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10: 28-30)
Quite simply, our salvation is about a choice we make. We believe in the total sufficiency of Christ; or we don’t. We believe that the Father is totally satisfied with the sacrifice that Christ made for us; or we don’t. We believe that salvation is entirely paid for; or we don’t.
So simple a child can believe it.
Upon Whose Resources Will You Rely?
But Sanctification, or “practical holiness”, is often treated differently by believers. They think that there is a percentage deal going on here. As if we might have at least a tiny, microscopic, little part to play in the process of being holy and pure for God. And then God takes care of the rest.
In reality, our Sanctification, like our Salvation is based upon a choice.
We choose upon whose resources we will rely.
It is a question of confidence. We are either confident in our own abilities or we are confident on God’s.
And that brings us back to the Sufficiency of Christ.
And to the question: Is He sufficient or not?
(We will be talking about this a great deal in the coming weeks as we explore Sanctification more deeply.)
Because, it is critical to understand that our efforts do not improve our relationship to God. Because, even our truly good works are produced by the Lord, by His Spirit within us. We allow Him to do that; or we don’t.
We can get in the way of His working and grieve His Spirit. Or, as a pastor once told me, “You are like a guy running down the road waving to the Holy Spirit to catch up!” He was right. (But that’s another story for another time.)
In Him Shall All Fullness Dwell
This all comes back to our IN-sufficiency. Our IN-ability to do good. Only the Spirit within us can produce Spiritual fruit. Eternal fruit. Otherwise we will produce “dead works”. Even as Christians, our best efforts do not achieve God’s ends. It is God’s efforts that achieve His ends.
Despite the fact that we talk so much about this stuff. We still do not really believe it.
I believe that is the reason so many people are leaving the Bible churches; because of this incorrect teaching on Sanctification. They are tired of carrying burdens that Christ did not intend for them to bear.
They are worn out by a partial gospel.
The purpose of this message is NOT to give anyone a “license to sin”. It is about realizing we are ALREADY freed from sin and alive to God. We are all that the Lord intended us to be when we rest in ALL that Jesus is.
Not just for salvation, but for the daily life we live upon this earth.
To put it another way, are you asking God to make you holy? Are you asking Him to make you clean?
What additional gift is it that God is supposed to give you? He has already given you Christ.
“For it pleased the Father that in Him [Christ] should all fullness dwell.” (Colossians 1:19)
His fullness we have already received. He indwells us. All His righteousness and sanctification is applied to our account. So that we can live for Him.
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 1:30,31)
Do you see it? Do you see how HE is our Sanctification. It is not something we need to strive to create within ourselves. It is not a religious work or religious discipline.
We continue to ask God for something He has already given us. We just refuse to believe it. Because, for the most part, we do not know the scriptures.
And don’t even get me started on the “disciplines”. A lot of leaders are pushing the popular religious “contemplative disciplines” these days so that they can, supposedly, grow closer to God. All that these things can do is to create a false religious confidence and a false religious experience that comes from another “spirit”. Not from the Spirit of God.
We are closer to God by faith. It is that simple.
By believing what He has said. By believing in all that He is on our behalf.
Through appropriating, by Faith, all that He has given us in Christ.
There is a lot more to come on this. Stay tuned.
“Same BAT-time. Same BAT-Channel.”