Pastor A.W. Weckeman – October 2013 (Revised 4/17/2021)
The Crux of Christianity
If you distilled Christian doctrine to its essence, you would be left with three fundamental factors: Salvation, Sanctification, and Glory to God.
Sanctification is the bridge between salvation and glory to God, making it the crucial component of Christian living, the essential process upon which all spiritual growth depends.
The Two Aspects of Sanctification
It is essential to understand the distinction between the two aspects of sanctification, first in the “positional sense” consecrated, set apart, made holy for God’s glory. This aspect relates to the supernatural outcome of the “second birth”… when we were “…baptized into one body” spiritually placed “in Christ” (1 Cor. 12:13). “…sanctified in Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor.1:2). “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.” (1 Cor. 6:11). At this one-time event, our spirit is permanently united to God’s Spirit “…he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit (1 Cor. 6:17). This union constitutes our standing or position, what we get from God when we repent and trust Christ.
Then begins the second stage (the primary focus of this lesson); sanctification in a “practical sense” (our “walk”). “Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul; now please, Lord, save me from myself.” This phase involves a lifelong trying process whereby the “new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17) learns, through trial and error, victory and defeat, obedience and disobedience, to “…walk in newness of life” (Rom.6:4). A gradual transformation (learning to resist sin) so that what happened on the inside becomes evident on the outside. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every One that nameth the name of Christ DEPART FROM INIQUITY. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, SANCTIFIED, and meet [fit] for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Tim. 2:19-22) [Emphasis mine]. Also consider: (Rom. 6:1-13, 2 Cor.6:14-17, 7:1).
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). Growth through submission; learning to discern and “yield” to the Presence within “Christ in you, the hope of glory…” (Col.1:27). This aspect of Christianity concerns our state or walk, which refers to what God gets from us when we yield control of our lives to Him. [For additional information, see the article “Standing vs. “State”]
Desire, the Indispensable Requirement of Growth
The believer’s “practical sanctification,” ideally, should be born out of a desire to live in such a way that pleases and glorifies God. It involves gradually learning to manifest the personal holiness called for in (1Peter 1:15-16 and 2 Cor.7:1), which can only be accomplished by yielding to “…the power that worketh in us. “(Eph.3:20). However, as we shall see, living a righteous life separate from the sins of this “present evil world” is not something we can accomplish in our own strength.
Sanctification is more than a biblical principle to be understood; it a life to be lived. It revolves around learning, through trial and tribulation, to trust the Lord in all things. An arduous process that gradually liberates from the dominion of sin and self-life, enabling us to “walk in the Spirit.”
Sanctification is God’s will for every one of His children, “For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour…” (1Thess. 4:2-4).
“…come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…” (2 Cor.6:14).
Prerequisite for the Master’s use
Sanctification is a prerequisite to being used of God:
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his, And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, SANCTIFIED, and meet [fit] for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Tim.2:19-21) [Emphasis mine].
Also consider, (Titus 2:11-15).
“Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14). Compare, (Ex.19:5 & 1Peter 2:9).
“…a peculiar people: that ye should shew forth” proclaim God’s glory, both with our lips and our lives!
“And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” (Jn.17:19) “…thy word is truth” v.# 17 Compare, (Eph.5:26, John 15:3).
Sanctification and Discipleship are Interdependent
Discipleship, No discussion of the “sanctification process” would be complete without mentioning the importance of “one on one discipleship.” Discipleship is the God-ordained means by which new believers are taught to “walk in newness of life” through personal instruction and example. Sanctification requires biblical knowledge coupled with spiritual understanding (which together equal wisdom); personal discipleship plays a vital role in the process. The new believer must have a mentor to model a changed life. Spiritual growth is all about CHANGE; transformation brought about by a refining process designed to purge the dross of sin and self, gradually conforming us to the image of Christ; rendering us “sanctified, and fit for the masters use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Tim.2:21).
This growth process involves a continual dying to self-life (2 Cor.4:10-12 & 5:14-15). Of course, the Lord Jesus is our primary example of a selfless life; however, having personal examples of this principle is essential for growth.
When Jesus said, “follow me” (Luke 9:23), where was He going? Follow Him where? Follow Him to Calvary; to the cross which is an instrument of death; the death of self-life. The goal is to make us “conformable unto his death” (Phil.3:10). “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).
Who’s in Control?
Jesus sacrificed His life to give us life; now, out of love and gratitude, He wants us to yield control of our lives to Him, learn to defer to His will so that He can live His life through us to reach others with His love.
The primary goal of sanctification, on a spiritual level, is to bring glory to God. On a personal level, the objective is to learn that we are no longer our own (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We “are bought with a price…” We belong to the Lord; we are saved to serve the One who paid the price. The ongoing lesson is to yield control of our lives to God. There is no greater testimony to the “supremacy of self” than the unwillingness of the redeemed, blood-bought child of God to serve the One who saved them from Hell.
If you are saved, you are a child of God: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.” (Gal.3:26) also (1 John 3:1-3).
“Train up a child…” One of the first things a child must be taught is he or she is not in control; boundaries must be established. The parent’s responsibility is to prevent the child from being overtaken and controlled by the inherited, rebellious sin nature. (the first word a child learns is NO).
When boundaries are set and enforced with consistency, the result will be security and stability; limits provide order in a child’s life (James 1:8); peace and joy in the parent’s life (Prov.22:6).
True love sets boundaries, and true happiness is to be content living within the borders of that love.
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Prov.22:15).
Insight as to the fruit of “foolishness” is found in (Prov.19:3). If the inherent foolishness is not dealt with will carry over into adulthood, resulting in great loss!
“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” (Prov.29:15) [Emphasis mine].
“…left to himself” means his inborn rebellious self-will has never been dealt with, never shown where or what the boundaries are, or the consequences of disobedience. This inherent tendency to disobey must be neutralized; the sooner, the better “betimes” [early on] (Prov.13:24). This truth not only applies to our children but also our relationship with our heavenly Father.
That there are unmistakable parallels regarding Biblical wisdom concerning physical parenting and God’s dealings with us should be apparent. As the child must learn, through repeated correction, to submit to the parent’s will, so must we painfully learn that we are not in charge; as blood-bought children of God, we must cease attempting to control our lives. Just as the young child, for his good, must learn to live within certain boundaries, the same is true of believers.
Because surrender is at the heart of the sanctification process, we must continually learn and relearn under the chastening hand of a loving Father until we can daily say, as did our Saviour, “…nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth…”
- “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
- And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
- For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
- If ye endure chastening, God dealth with you as sons; for what son is he whom the father chaseneth not?”
- But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
- Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”
- For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”
- Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” [Emphasis mine]
“The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me…” (Ps.138:8).
Every Area of Life
The process of sanctification is multifaceted. The Bible contains many fundamental doctrines, which (when applied) play vital roles in sanctification. Underlying teachings essential to the transformation called for in (Rom.12:1-2); principles that influence every area of our lives (spirit, soul, and body).
These numerous teachings all work together toward the same goals, instructing the believer concerning the necessity of dying to self-life and yielding daily to the indwelling Holy Spirit. Allowing Him to expose those things that hinder our relationship with the Lord—learning to identify both the obvious and the subtle“strongholds.”
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;)…” (2 Cor.10:4).
Before salvation, we lived, “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience…” (Eph.2:2). During that time, we formed an unbiblical mindset.
Strongholds are corrupt concepts and beliefs rooted in the mind, resulting in ungodly thought patterns, which in turn cause a distorted perception of both physical and spiritual reality. This reality accounts for the strong exhortation to all born-again believers found in (2 Cor.10:4-5).
Prior to salvation, the insidious influence of an ungodly society, along with unbiblical religious teaching and traditions, had thoroughly shaped our lives; our way of thinking. These sinful thought patterns were ingrained in our mind over the years as strongholds. The sobering reality is that the deformities of sin continue to mar the soul long after salvation.
Strongholds must be pulled down and replaced.
Whether they are from the past or present, strongholds must be recognized, pulled down, and replaced with God’s truth; if not, they will hinder your relationship with the Lord and stifle spiritual growth.
The account of the unclean spirit (Matt.12:43-45) having gone out of a man and later returning along with seven other wicked spirits upon finding the house empty illustrates it isn’t enough to cast down imaginations and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Something must fill the void. Before we can “put on” Christ (Rom.13:14), we must first “put off” something. Consider, (Eph.4:22-32 & Col.3:8-12).
As in the past, our worldview had been thoroughly shaped by this world’s philosophy. Now we must allow the truth of God’s word to change our way of thinking, acting, and reacting. [For additional information, see the article “The Mind is the Battlefield”]
Knowledge isn’t enough.
So often, we hear it said: “Not out of duty but desire.” Desire is the fundamental prerequisite, the indispensable requirement to “…grow in the grace, and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Consider, (Prov.2:1-6, Ps.37:4 & 25:4-5); DESIRE to know and obey him is pivotal to the process of “sanctification.”
Desire and Affections are things of the Heart.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt.6:21). “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col.3:1-7). Spiritual realities [understanding] (Col.1:9) enter the mind through the door of a sincere, truth-seeking heart, which desires to please and glorify God. Our “affection” needs to be reoriented toward the things of God.
Every carnal desire and worldly ambition springs from self-life; therefore, our desires must be brought in line with God’s will for spiritual growth to take place. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). A wise man evaluates his desires in relation to eternity.
“He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot (Martyred missionary)
Conformity, the Object of Sanctification
Again, having information about Christ’s life revealed to us is not enough. Genuine Christianity is having the life of Christ FORMED IN US, “…conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom.8:29). Also consider, (Eph.4:13, 15) and Gal.1:16 & 4:19).
“…be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom.12:1-2) [Emphasis mine].
Before salvation, we were conformed to this “present evil world” it is now necessary to allow God to renew our minds. The change is accomplished by INTERNALIZING HIS WORD to let it dominate our thought life, CONFORMING us to His way of thinking so that we can live in harmony with His heart and mind.
Remember, the mind is the battlefield!
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa.55:8-9).
“I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their OWN THOUGHTS.” (Isa.65:2). [All emphasis mine].
“Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of THEIR THOUGHTS, because they have NOT HEARKENED UNTO MY WORDS, nor to my law, but rejected it.” (Jer.6:19). Also see, (Jer.7:23-24).
“I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” (Ps.119:59).
It shouldn’t be hard to see the pivotal role of God’s word in our lives; for this very purpose, we are commanded, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Col. 3:16).
This is the means of CONFORMITY by which we reform our thought process, the way we reshape our worldview so that it conforms to God’s view. “Let this mind be in you…” (Phil.2:5). Also consider, (Phil.4:8-9).
Sanctification involves a purification process through God’s Word & Spirit
For this reason cultivation of a personal relationship with Christ is one of the crucial components of sanctification. “Abide in me, and I in you.” (John 15:4), “That I may know him…” (Phil. 3:10), “Draw nigh unto God, and he will draw nigh to you…” (James 4:8).
Consider the profound effect a daily intake of God’s Word can have on our lives; the beneficial influence of an ongoing relationship with God and His Word.
Consider, (Prov.6:20-24) “lead thee,” even in your sleep it will “keep thee” during the day it will, “talk with thee,” provide “light” for guidance and correction “keep thee” from evil temptations. The point is, if you yield to it, God’s Word will transform your life, gradually conforming you to Christ.
As the saying goes, “you are what you eat,” the same is true concerning our spiritual consumption of God’s Word. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt.4:4).
Saturate your mind with His Word until it permeates your whole being, until your thoughts, actions, and reactions reflect Him, “grow up into him [Christ] in all things…” (Eph. 4:15); another way of saying “…put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom.13:14).
Sanctification through the Word and the Holy Spirit is the HOW to “…put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lust thereof.” (Rom.13:14).
To be filled with the Word of God is to be filled with the Spirit of God; compare (Eph.5:18-21 with Col.3:16-17).
The two are inseparable, functioning in perfect unison, like electricity (Spirit) flowing through the filament (word) of a light bulb, producing light in the process. “…in thy light shall we see light” (Ps.36:9). They operate so closely that the Word of God is referred to as “the sword of the Spirit…” (Eph.6:17).
Unrecognized Sin Hinders Sanctification
All sin separates us from God; it is always the factor responsible for breaking fellowship with the Lord, hindering the inner witness of the Holy Spirit:
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isa.59:2).
The so-called “major sins,” such as adultery, cheating, lusting, stealing, etc., are the obvious obstacles…while the rationalization of our so-called “little sins” or “natural flaws” is subtle.
Failure to recognize and acknowledge all forms of sin for what they are, a type of SELF-DECEPTION: Refusal to agree with God’s pronouncement that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom.14:23) is to “…give place to the devil.” (Eph.4:27).
“Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.” Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have DOMINION over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (Ps.19:12-13). [Emphasis mine]
“The subtle forms of sin are those overlooked disturbances (for which we have many excuses) such as fear, worry, doubt, anxiety, depression, critical spirit, unforgiving spirit, self-pity, pride, jealousy, envy, hypocrisy, selfishness, laziness, impure thoughts, wicked imaginations and such like.”
Notice, all of the above are WRONG REACTIONS that reveal what’s going on in the MIND; our THOUGHT LIFE! Jesus said, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men proceedeth evil THOUGHTS…” (Mark 7:20-21) [Emphasis mine].
These are not just character flaws or negative personality traits (as we prefer to call them); they are SIN! These are the hidden sins that secretly grieve and quench the Holy Spirit, breaking fellowship with the Lord, thereby stifling sanctification.
“WE WILL REMAIN THE SAME, UNTIL THE PAIN OF REMAINING THE SAME, BECOMES GREATER THAN THE PAIN OF CHANGE.” Unknown