Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 13- Sanctification

February 13- Sanctification

“We instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans.” I Thessalonians 1-3
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” I Corinthians 1:18 (see also II Cor. 2:5)

Calvin: “As soon as any very wicked person has performed one or another of the duties of the law, he does not doubt that it will be accounted to him as righteousness; but the Lord proclaims that no sanctification can be acquired from this action unless the heart has first been well cleansed. And not content with this, he declares that all the works that come froth from sinners are contaminated with impurity of heart. Take, then, the name of righteousness from those works which are condemned as works of pollution by the Lord’s mouth!” (III.14.7)

Another part of salvation is sanctification- or growing in grace. Christians are supposed to grow- not just be “saved” or justified. Paul talks about "us who are being saved” not as if we were saved in the past and that is it. The word “sanctified” means made holy. While there is a sense in which we were made holy in each part of salvation (predestination, regeneration, justification, adoption, and ultimately glorification), there is a sense in which we grow in our salvation as we rub our cleansed hearts up against the polluted world. Afflictions may make us better and holier people. Handling human sin and broken relationships give us the opportunity to grow in grace and dependence on God. A verse comes to mind: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:12).
John Leith used to say that for Calvinists, there was a tendency to confuse and merge justification and sanctification. This shows in many different ways, but for some, they downplay the role of justification and emphasize sanctification to the point where we may wonder if they leave any room at all for a conversion the type of St. Paul’s. On the other hand, there are those who emphasize justification only- (the kind who are asking “are you saved”) as if growth beyond justification doesn’t matter.
Sanctification is where we exercise our faith in the world. It is also where we share the faith we have so others might be justified. In justification sin is pardoned, in sanctification sin is subdued (following the Westminster larger catechism Q.77 here). Justification is given equally to all, but sanctification is not equal in all, and no one in this life finishes growing in faith to the point of perfection. Predestination arranges the race and places us in it. Justification starts us off in the race and assures we are on the right track that will end up in regard. Sanctification is the middle part of the race and different people are at different levels. Glorification is the finish line.
For Calvin (III.6) we grow in holiness by imitating Christ in his life. The Christian life here is to be an imitation of Jesus’ life on earth. There are two parts to sanctification: mortification and vivification. Mortification means dying to self- and that is accomplished through self-denial, obedience, humility, and cross bearing, Vivification means living to the Lord. This comes by being good stewards of our lives; by not despising God’s blessings in this life- but appreciating them; by using the gifts of God in moderation and with balance; by being patience and content with what God gives us; by being faithful to our calling; and being hopeful for the next world.

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