Paul's Passing Thoughts

TANC 2014: Andy Young, Sessions 1-3 on Sanctification

Session 1: Anybody Remember Grammatical Historical Teaching?

Power Points 

Be Ye Holy for I am Holy

Ok, welcome to Session 1 on Understanding Sanctification.

In my opinion, the hardest part about doing any sort of topical study is finding a starting point.  I would much rather take a passage of scripture and teach through that in context, and just let the passage say what it says.  What makes a topical study of the Bible so difficult is that there is always a danger of proof-texting.  We have to always make sure that we are aware that we unconsciously bring a bias with us, wherever that bias comes from, it could be from our parents, what out parents taught us, could be from a particular church denomination that we grew up attending, or maybe our worldview, whatever influenced that.  There are things in our life that shape us and we end up having a particular bias when it comes to interpreting scripture.  So when it comes to studying a particular topic or doctrine, we have this tendency to seek out passages that fit in with our bias.  This is called proof-texting.

Now there is nothing inherently wrong with proof-texting.  In fact, many of the scriptural truths we hold dear we can directly site a specific verse or passage that teaches that.  For example, if I were to ask you, what must a person do to be saved, what are some verses that immediately come to mind?

Acts 16:31

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Romans 10:13

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Romans 10:9-10

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

John 3:14-18

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Now these are all good verses, and the reason these are good proof-texts is because the context is pretty straightforward.  And the big danger with proof-texting is ignoring the larger context.  For example, if someone were to ask me about how to be saved, one verse I would not use as a proof text is Acts 27:31.  Anyone know that verse?  “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” That’s a good salvation verse, isn’t it?  Now I know that’s a silly example, but don’t laugh, I have heard of people teaching on this passage and making all kinds of metaphors out of the ship and trying to turn this into a salvation passage.  But I use this to show you how easy it is to take a verse out of context.  We have to make sure we are very careful to understand and interpret a verse or passage within the larger context.

So in these sessions dealing with sanctification, we’re going to be turning to a lot of scripture.  We’re going to spend a lot of time looking up verses and passages of scripture dealing with sanctification, and I’m going to be very careful and methodical to make sure we keep the context straight, that we understand the larger theme of where these verses fit in with the rest of scripture, and so hopefully we’ll avoid this danger of proof-texting.

In this first session I want to lay the ground work for the other sessions, so I’m going to spend a lot of time defining terms.  That will become our premise for the rest of the study on Sanctification.  It is important to understand the distinction between Sanctification and Justification.  It is important to keep that distinction.  Sanctification is an act that happens to those who are already justified; those who are already declared to be righteous.  No, not just declared righteous, made righteous by belief in God, belief in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  That is the Biblical standard for righteousness; belief in God.  So because Sanctification is subsequent to Justification, I am going to be specifically addressing those who are already saved.  If you have already believed in Christ for your salvation, I am speaking to you today.  These sessions will apply specifically to you.  Nothing I have to say applies to someone who is unsaved.  I am speaking directly to believers.  In other word, little to nothing I have to speak about applies to Justification.  Justification has already been accomplished in your life, now we’re moving on to Sanctification.

So having said all of that, I’m going to use this first session to define our terms.  What is Sanctification?  More importantly, what is a Biblical definition of Sanctification?  Then our second session, we’ll explore sanctification in the Old Testament and it’s relationship to the Law, and I want to consider the idea, that if God wants me to be holy, then why do I still sin?  And then in the last session on Sanctification we will examine the question of, is there any merit to good works, and we will even examine the Biblical source of assurance for the believer.

So let’s get started on some terms.  What is Sanctification?  What does it mean to be Sanctified?  Before we can address those questions, we need to understand what Sanctification has to do with relation to holiness.  We know that God is holy.  The Bible teaches that holiness is one of God’s attributes.  So as creatures made in the image of God, can we exhibit holiness?  Are believers really holy?  The verse that I’ve chosen to use, sort of as the theme for these sessions on Sanctification is 1 Peter 1:16.  Why don’t we start there.  Go ahead and turn to 1 Peter.  And actually I want to start with verse 14.

“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [way of life, how you conduct yourselves]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

And this last part here in verse 16 like I said is what I have chosen as the theme for these sessions.  Peter uses the esxpression, “because it is written,” he is actually making reference to the Law.  Peter is actually quoting the exact phrase found in Leviticus 11:44, 45.

Now some things I want you to notice about the grammatical structure of this passage here in 1 Peter.  Please notice all of the verbs in this passage, all of the action words, they are all in the imperative mood.  Imperative mood means it is a command.  An order.  Holiness is not optional.  It is a command.

Secondly, not only are all the verbs, all the actions, not only are they commands, they are in the active voice.  Active voice means that the subject performs the action.  The opposite of active voice is the passive voice.  In passive voice, the subject is the recipient of the action, or the subject has the action performed upon him.  Notice the active voice in all of these commands

do not fashion yourselves – you don’t fashion

be ye holy – you be holy

Notice the subject performs the action.  You.  You are performing the action.  This is different from passive voice.  If these commands were in the passive voice it would read something like:

do not be fashioned – do not allow yourself to be fashioned. Or;

be made holy – allow yourself to be made holy.

Taking this even one step further, if we look specifically at this phrase, “be ye holy”.  This phrase in the Greek looks like this.  It’s pronounced:

αγιοιγενεσθε “hag-ee-oy gin-ess-theh”

The word I have underlined here is the imperative form of the word:

γινομαι – “gin-oh-my” –  to cause to be; to become (reflexive)

This is a linking verb that is the equivalent to our English word “is”, and all the forms it takes- am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been.

So not only is this verb in the active voice, the word itself is causative in its very meaning.  This phrase could actually read, “cause yourself to become holy.”  Or, “make yourself holy.”

The third thing I want you to consider from this passage is, who is the audience?  Who is to perform this command to be holy?  Let your eyes go up to the beginning of the chapter.  To whom is Peter addressing this letter?  Who is supposed to be holy?

King James says – the strangers scattered throughout all these regions of Asia Minor.  Who would that be?  In the Greek this would read as pilgrims of the dispersion.  That is an expression that is used other places in scripture to describe displaced ethnic Jews.  These are Jews who did not return to the land of Israel following the Babylonian and Assyrian captivity.  They dispersed, and settled here and there throughout this region.  We also know from reading the books of Acts and from Galatians chapter 2 for example, that Paul’s ministry focused on the Gentiles, and Peter’s ministry focused on the Jews.  Galatians 2 uses the expression the gospel of the uncircumcision vs. the gospel of the circumcision.

So what we have here is Peter writing this letter addressed to these Jews of the dispersion, but what’s more important is that they are believers.  And that is what I really want us to see here.  Peter is writing to believers.  More than that, these commands here in verses 14-16 are issued to believers.  He is exhorting believers to not fashion themselves after their former life.  The believer is commanded to be holy.  The believer is to cause it to happen, actively, make it happen, not to passively wait for it to happen to him.  And I want this to be our underlying theme of these sessions.

As we go through these sessions, keep this in the forefront of your mind at all times, this is what we as believers are commanded to do.  We are not to live our lives the way we used to.  Not fashioning ourselves after the former life.  And by the way, that is the exact same word the apostle Paul uses in Romans 12:2, where he says be not conformed to this world, “soo-scheme-ah-tid-zo”.  This is where we get the word “schematic”.  You’ve probably heard of a schematic diagram.  For electrical engineers a schematic is a pattern to follow.  And that’s what the word means, having to do with a pattern.  We don’t pattern our lives after this world, we don’t follow the pattern of our old behaviors.  As believers we are to be holy as God is holy.

And if God in His word is commanding us to do it, then we must be able to do it, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe in a God who would tell us to do something that we can’t do.  And if you don’t believe that, then I’m sorry, then you and I don’t believe in the same God.

Believers are called to holiness.  Now what is holiness?  That’s a word that has a lot of mystique about it.  Very ethereal.  We hear it, we think we know intrinsically what it means and we throw it around, but we have a hard time explaining it.  Well, let’s define these terms.  How does the Bible define holiness?  Let’s start at the beginning.  Surprisingly, the word “holy” doesn’t even appear in the book of Genesis.  The first occurrence of the word “holy” in the Bible appears in Exodus 3:5.

Exodus 3:5

“And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

קדשׁ – qôdesh – ko’-desh

Strongs dictionary defines it as a sacred place or thing.  Ok, well, that doesn’t tell us very much.  There is a parallel word for holy in the New Testament.  The first use of the word holy in the NT is

Matt 1:18

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

A couple more places where this is found, and I’m not going to look all of these up, but

Matthew 4:5

“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,”

Matthew 7:6

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

This word in the Greek for holy is

αγιος – “hag-ee-oss” – sacred.

Again, still a pretty abstract concept.  Let’s set out to de-mystify these concepts.  Bring it from the abstract to the tangible.   Let’s see if we can nail it down a little more.  To better understand what holiness is, let us examine the opposite of holiness.  In scripture, the opposite of holy is profane.  Now profane carries with it a different meaning than what we understand in our modern usage of the word.  When we hear the word profane we usually think of profanity, like foul language.  So in the modern usage of the word, profane has the idea of evil, or foul, or sinful.  But that is not what the word means as it’s used in scripture.  In scripture profane simply means, common, ordinary, or everyday.  Run-of-the-mill.  No-frills.  Just like all the rest.

Now when you consider profane in this aspect, scripture presents all kinds of contrasts between that which is holy and that which is profane. The Old Testament is full of these contrasts.  Here are just a few of them:

Holy vs. Profane

Leviticus 20:3

And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.

Leviticus 21:6

They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.

Leviticus 21:7

They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.

Leviticus 22:2

Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 22:15

And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the Lord;

Leviticus 22:32

Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the Lord which hallow you,

Ezekiel 22:26

Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference [discernment] between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.

Ezekiel 44:23

And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.

Amos 2:7

That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name:

Over and over again we have this contrast presented to us.  So if we understand then that profane is that which is common, or ordinary, or just like all the rest, and we understand that holy is the polar opposite of profane, then holy would be that which is not profane; that which is not common, that which is not ordinary, that which is not every-day, that which is not just like all the rest.

God said to Israel, when you profaned My name among the heathen, you made Me to be just like all the other gods.  When you profaned my temple, you made it like any other ordinary building.  I am no longer holy.  You caused me to be patterned after just like everything else.  I am no longer in that place where I deserve to be, because I am God, I am Jehovah.  I am not like all the rest.  I am higher than all the rest.  In fact, there are no others.  I am the only one.  I am that I Am!  I am the self-existent One!  That’s what My name means.  Do not profane it!  Do not make it just like all the rest!

This distinction between holy and profane is very helpful when it comes to us understanding why holiness is important in the Christian life.  Because if we are believers, then we are the adopted children of God.  If we are believers then we have identified with Christ.  We are righteous as He is righteous.  Sin has been taken away.  So then why would we live a life that profanes our Father?  Why would we live a life, why would our behavior be common, ordinary, why would our behavior be just like everyone else?

God is out of the ordinary, and He wants His people to be like Him.  In fact, He made it possible when He saved us.  Sin was taken away.  Our old man was crucified with Christ, and now we live in newness of life.  Our lives should be out of the ordinary.  Our lives should not be characterized by that which is just like everyone else in this world.

So, after we have gone through all of that, do we have a Biblical definition of holiness that we can work with?

Holy – a place or thing which is distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.

Now those are words we can understand.  Those are words we can wrap our minds around and sink our teeth into.

Now that begs the question, what determines if something is holy?  What is it that makes something holy?  And this is where the relationship with sanctification comes into play.  If we as believers are commanded to be holy, our holiness then is effected through the process of sanctification.  In fact that could be a good starting place to define Sanctification.  We could say that:

Sanctification – the process whereby the holiness in the life of the believer is effected.

But let’s not leave it there.  Remember, our goal is to have a Biblical understanding of these concepts.  So let’s go back to God’s word and see how the scriptures define Sanctification.

Now while the word holy did not appear until the book of Exodus, the word sanctify appears early on in the book of Genesis.  The first instance of “sanctify” appears in

Genesis 2:3

“And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

קדשׁ – qâdash – kaw-dash’ – to be clean; to make, pronounce, or declare clean.

Notice that, the basic definition of sanctification has to do with cleansing.  If you wanted to substitute the word clean for the word sanctify in Genesis 2:3 it would read:

“And God blessed the seventh day, and cleansed it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

Now let me put our word for holy back up here for a moment.

Holy – ko-desh

Sanctify – kaw-dash

There is a great similarity between these two Hebrew words.  In fact they are both taken from the same root word.  What we have here is a very close relationship between cleansing and holiness.  The fourth commandment is what, remember the Sabbath day to keep it, holy.  Remember our definition of Holy?  Why was the Sabbath day holy?  Why was the Sabbath day distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else?  It was holy because God cleansed it.

Ok, how about the New Testament?  The first instance of “sanctify” in the NT is found in

Matthew 23:17

“Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?”

αγνος – “hag-noss” – clean

Now just like I did in the Hebrew, let me put up the word for holy in the Greek.

Holy – “hag-ee-oss”

Sanctify – “hag-noss”

Again, look at the similarity of the two words.  And just like in the Hebrew, these two words in the Greek are taken from the same root.  The same relationship appears in the Greek between these ideas of cleansing and holiness.

So now that we understand this relationship between holiness and cleansing, we can take the meaning of the word Sanctify, and combine it with the meaning of holiness, and we can come up with what I believe is an accurate, Biblical definition of Sanctification.

Sanctification – the process of cleansing for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else. (or the purpose of making something holy)

So we have our definitions.  We’ve established the ground work, the foundation from which we can build.

If you remember at the beginning of this session I asked the question, as creatures made in the image of God, can we exhibit God’s attribute of holiness?  I would say that according to scripture, the answer is a resounding, YES!  We are able to.  We are able to be distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everyone else.  We are able to behave that way.  We are able to pattern our lives that way.

So, now that we have a premise to build on, in session two, we’ll take a look at how this all worked out in the Old Testament under the law, and the relationship of Sanctification to the law.  We’ll expand on this idea of cleansing and the relationship between cleansing and Sanctification and holiness in the life of a believer.

Do we have time for any questions or comments?

______________________________________________________________

Session 2: Understanding Sanctification

Open PowerPoints in separate tab/window.

Sanctification in the Old Testament

Ok, welcome back. This is session 2 on the topic Understanding Sanctification. We’ve got a lot to cover and I want to make sure I leave time at the end for questions of discussion. So let’s take a minute or two just to review where we’ve been so far. We have begun this study on Sanctification by first defining some terms We did that in session 1. This is going to be the premise from which we will develop the rest of our study on this topic.

There were two terms we defined. and they are words we’re familiar with, but it seems as believers we have a hard time really nailing down an understanding of those words. Organized religion has taught us, orthodoxy has taught us what we are supposed to think about these words, and we sort of define it in those terms and supposedly live our lives accordingly. And as such, Christians become lazy and fail to compare those terms against what scripture says. How the Bible uses those terms. Because usage determines meaning. We don’t want to come up with a meaning that suits us and then force that meaning upon a word when it appears in scripture and say, look see, it says right here…So what we did last session was take these two terms, look at how they were used in scripture, and from the usage attempt to construct a definition. So I’ll put these up again. Here are the two terms we defined.

Holy – a place or thing which is distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.

Sanctification – the process of cleansing for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else; or the purpose of making something holy.

So we have our foundation, now let’s build on that.  We ended the last session with this idea of the relationship between Sanctification and cleansing, so we’re going to develop that a little bit more, this idea of cleansing.  So to start with, since this is a session on Sanctification, let’s take a closer look at this word and see how it’s used.

Sanctification – Sanctify – verb form – to cleanse for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary or just like everything else.

The command to sanctify occurs 103 times in the Old Testament.

49 Times in the Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy)

32 Times in the books of History (Joshua – Esther)

Once in the books of Wisdom/Poetry (Job – Song of Solomon)

19 times in the major prophets (Isaiah – Daniel)

Twice in the minor prophets (Hosea – Malachi)

Majority of the usage of the command to sanctify appears in the Law.

Let’s consider this by breaking it down a little further.

Who sanctifies?  (who is to perform the sanctifying?)

God – Exodus 31:13

“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.”

So God does sanctification.  But notice also, that man sanctifies as well.

Man

Moses – Exodus 19:10

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes”

People – Leviticus 20:7

“Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.”

Notice in that verse we see the relationship that we talked about last session, you can see the purpose of sanctification is to make something holy.

So there is the who.  The next question we could ask is, what?

What is to be sanctified?

Days – Genesis 2:3

“And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

We even looked at the 4th commanment in the last session.  The reason the Sabbath was holy was because God had sanctified it, He had cleansed it.

People – Exodus 19:10

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes”

Priests – Exodus 19:22

“And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.”

Offerings – Exodus 29:27

“And thou shalt sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the shoulder of the heave offering, which is waved, and which is heaved up, of the ram of the consecration, even of that which is for Aaron, and of that which is for his sons:”

Tabernacle – Exodus 29:44

“And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.”

How is something sanctified?

By anointing

If you have your Bibles, go ahead and turn to Exodus 30.  God gave Moses the recipe for a special anointing oil, Exodus 30:22-33:

22Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23‘Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, 24and of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: 25and thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. 26And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, 27and the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, 28and the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. 29And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. 30And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate [kaw-dash – “sanctify”] them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. 31And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations. 32Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. 33Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.”

Now, I have you read all of that, but the relevant part of this is the anointing oil, made after the art of the apothecary, those are the people skilled in the art of making perfume.  So this anointing oil is actually a very sweet-smelling perfume.  You’ve been around someone who’d put on too much perfume, right?  You can smell them coming before they even enter the room.  In fact, if you close your eyes, and that person walks into the room, you can tell they are there because you can smell their perfume or cologne.  And for some people, their perfume is Ben-gay.  Right?  Or Old Spice.  English Leather.  That was what my Dad always used.  I loved that smell, cause it was my Dad.  But you identify them by the smell of their perfume.

The items that were anointed with this oil were made holy.  They were made distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.  How did you know they were distinct, because they had the smell of this oil on them.  And this oil was not to be used for anything else.  So even the oil was holy because it was distinct, so anything anointed with this oil was holy because it had this distinct smell, and you could identify it, and you knew, those items were distinct from everything else.

Not only that, you couldn’t take this oil and copy the recipe and make a bottle of perfume to give to your wife to use.  It was forbidden.  The oil was reserved for only specific things.  If other people used it for other purposes, then it would no longer be distinct would it?

Something else about anointing oil.  Certain oils themselves had special properties.  What else were oils used for?  The apothecary was the art of making perfume, but from this art form came the study of medicines.  Pharmaceuticals.  Pharmaceuticals had their origins in the apothecary, and some oils were used for medicinal purposes.  Most often oils were put on wounds, get this, to cleanse them and prevent infection so that they would heal faster.

So the use of this anointing oil sanctifies because of its cleansing or healing properties and because of the distinctiveness of the smell.  It identifies.  So we have sanctification by anointing.

The other method of Sanctification is by washing, and this concept of washing is where I want to focus because this is a theme that is repeated over and over in scripture, as we’ll see.

By washing, Exodus 19:10:

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,…”

And we could look up dozens of other verses where the people are told to wash.  They washed themselves, their clothes, their houses, their children, their animals.  There were requirements for washing before going to the tabernacle, before offering sacrifices, after handling dead animals, after a woman’s menstrual cycle, after illnesses – especially leprosy, after childbirth, before meals, after sexual relations.  The people of Israel were a clean nation.  God wanted His children to be clean.  Now of course, there were obviously hygienic benefits to all of this.  If you are conscientious about keeping clean, the less likely you are to get sick.  You’ll be healthier.

So God provided a means for His people to stay strong and robust.  He implemented these very strict guidelines for washing.  But it wasn’t all about being clean just for the sake of being clean.  This reputation for cleanliness made them, get this, distinct from all the other nations around them.  Taking a bath was not a common occurrence in all of the other cultures of this time.  God wanted His people to be clean because that would make them distinct from all the other cultures around them.  And if they were distinct, if they were Holy, then their God whom they served would be identified with them, and all the nations everywhere would know that He alone is God, He alone is distinct.  There is none other like Him.

Now there was a method for washing.  And this became a very important part of Israel’s culture.  To understand this we need to go way back to the very beginning.  And I mean the very beginning.  Turn in your Bibles all the way back to Genesis chapter 1.

Genesis 1:9-10

“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.  And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”

מקוה – “mik-veh” – a gathering together of water.

This is an important concept to understand.  This word “mik-veh” used here in scripture eventually took on the meaning to describe any collection of some large mass of water.  So, that could be a pond, a stream, a lake, a river.  Anywhere there was a sufficient amount of water.  It was in these large masses of water where the people were to bathe.  Now what do you do if you didn’t live nearby a river or stream or pond or lake?  Well, then you built a “mik-veh”.   In fact, Solomon built a “mik-veh”.  Look at 1 Kings chapter 7.

1 Kings chapter 7, Solomon is building the temple.  Remember David wanted to build God a house, but God said, no, I don’t need a house, all of creation is mine, what kind of house could you possible build for me?  I will build you a house, and your son Solomon will build a house for me.  You just gather all the materials so he can build it.  So in 1 Kings Solomon is building the temple, and then in chapter 7 verse 23 we read this:

1 Kings 7:23- 26

“And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast. It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward. And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths.”

A bath is a unit of liquid measure. 2000 baths would be the equivalent of about 11,000 gallons. So this is about the size of a small swimming pool.

What this was, was a “mik-veh”.  This was the equivalent of the laver that was used in the tabernacle, only on a much much larger scale!  The priests used this to wash their hands and feet as they were required for whatever particular service they had to perform in the temple.

These washings not only carried with them a hygienic benefit, but there was a spiritual aspect to it as well.  It was to symbolize God cleansing them.  It was to symbolize them making themselves clean before presenting themselves to God.  The people washing themselves was a symbol of their need to be clean before God, to show that they were made distinct.  Sometimes they only needed to wash their hands and feet.  Sometimes they had to wash their whole bodies, requiring them to completely immerse themselves in he “mik-veh” and pour the water over their heads.  There were some washing requirements that mandated that the waters be constantly refreshed from a fresh source.  In other words, it could not be a stagnant pool of water, it had to have a fresh source constantly turning the water over to keep it fresh.  This was referred to as, get this, “living water.”

Over time, this word “mik-veh” eventually would take on two particular aspects.  It was first used to refer to a gathering of water, but it also came to refer to the actual process of the washing itself.  So as you can see, the process of washing and the “mik-veh” was a very integral part of the Jewish culture, and not just from a cultural standpoint, but concerning the Law as well.

Now fast forward a few centuries, and now we come to New Testament times.  Knowing what we know about the importance of washing and this word “mik-veh”, there is a Greek equivalent for this in the New Testament.  Anyone want to take a guess at what it is?  Baptism!  Right.

βαπτζω – “bap-tid-zoh” – to immerse or submerge.  To make fully wet.  This same word is actually taken from the textile industry meaning, to dip, where they would take fabric and dip it in a vat of dye.  But baptism as it’s used in the Greek refers to taking something and fully immersing it in water.  Ok, this is the equivalent of the Hebrew “mik-veh”.  Now, in the New Testament, we have this individual named John.  He comes on the scene, and he’s out in the wilderness, eating honey and locust, and what is he doing?  He’s baptizing people. Why was he baptizing?  Was this something new God had him do?  We have been taught that, though, haven’t we?  That this was some precedent concerning the initiation of the church age.

The gospels tell us though that John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.  Now have you ever stopped to ask yourself what that means?  See this takes on a whole new meaning, there are serious implications to this when we consider that what John was actually doing was performing a Jewish “mik-veh”.  This was a ceremonial washing that was required of people before they could go and worship in the temple.

Now this is important to understand.  We’re making this connection between the Old and New Testaments, and what I’m trying to get you to see is that baptism was not a new concept.  The Jews were very familiar with baptism.  They called it a “mik-veh”, but in the New Testament it’s called baptism because that’s the Greek word for the exact same thing as a “mik-veh”, and the New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew.  So whenever you see the word “baptism” or “baptize” in the New Testament, please keep this in mind, this was no new concept, the Jews in general, and Jewish believers in particular already understood what baptism was all about.  It was already part of their culture going all the way back to Moses and the Law.  It was an integral part of the washing requirements of the Law.

Now what does all of this have to do with Sanctification?  Well, the very definition of Sanctification involves cleansing, and we saw earlier that one of the ways you sanctify something is to wash it.  So here we are.  We’re in the New Testament.  What significance does this all have in the New Testament?  Well, as I’ve already stated, this was a concept already familiar to the Jews.  The Jews understood sanctification as cleansing to make holy.  How does this apply to the New Testament?  What difference does this make to believers who are not under the Law?  Well, if we understand that the real purpose of the law was for Sanctification and not Justification it makes a big difference.  The first believers were Jews, so I think they perfectly understood this connection with the Law.  How do we understand it?

Well lets start with a few passages.  Let’s start with John 15, so it you have your Bibles go ahead and turn to John 15.

John 15:1-3

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

There are two words I want you to pay special attention to here.  The first word is “purgeth”.

“Purgeth”

καθαιρω – “kath-ahee-rho” – (verb); to cleanse, or specifically to prune.

Now I did some cursory research on caring for grapevines.  I actually found some really great information in the Farmer’s Almanac.  When caring for a grapevine, pruning is the single-most important step in getting a grapevine to produce the greatest amount of fruit.  As a vine grows, you have the main trunk of the vine and then you have branches coming off the main vine.  The branches produce canes, and it is from the canes that the fruit grows and develops.  Once those canes have fruited, they are done.  They wont produce any more fruit.  So you have to cut back those canes so that the branches will grow new canes to produce new fruit.

A if vinedresser wants his vines to produce the most grapes, he prunes the vines very aggressively during the vines’ dormant period, usually cutting away up to 90% of the previous season’s growth.  The plant is then able to put all its strength back into producing new canes that will produce more fruit that year.  The more you prune, the more fruit you get.  So when you prune a grapevine, you are in fact literally “cleansing” the branches.  And this is exactly what Jesus means when he uses this metaphor of the vine with His disciples.  He is talking about cleansing them.  In fact, He reiterates that point in verse 3 when he tells them you are clean.

“Clean”

καθαρος – “kath-ah-rohs” – (adjective); clean

Notice, it the same root word that was used in verse 2.  Same word, only in verse 2 it is a verb, and in verse 3 it is an adjective.  It’s talking about cleansing.  Cleansing them through the word.  And this is not the only time that Jesus has used this expression.  If you flip ahead 2 chapters, to chapter 17, here we have Jesus, the night before His crucifixion, in the garden of Gethsemane, praying to the Father.  And notice one of the specific things He prays for in verse 17.

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

Cleanse them through thy truth.  Make them clean through thy truth.  Thy word is truth.  God sanctifies us with His word.  Just as the vine branches are cleansed, we are cleansed by God’s word so that we may be distinct for Him, and in being distinct we produce more fruit.  God’s word does that.

Now one more passage I want us to look at and then we’ll make this practical.  One more passage related to cleansing.  Turn back to John 13.  And we’ll start with verse 3.

John 13:3-15

“3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash [underline that] the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed [circle that] needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”

νιπτω – “nip-toh” – to cleanse, specifically the hands and feet.

λουω – “loo-oh” – To bathe. To cleanse the whole person from head to foot.

Now this is going to get a little tricky here, so lets go through this carefully. We all understand the culture of foot-washing, we’ve heard it explained to us many times. This was customary to do because their feet would get dirty from wearing sandals. Ok. Now notice Peter doesn’t want Jesus to wash his feet because he thinks such a menial task is beneath Jesus. It’s humiliating. He doesn’t want to humiliate Jesus, so he refuses to let him do it. Jesus tells him, I am doing this as an object lesson, but you’re not going to get it right now, but you will later on.

See Peter is confused because Jesus said that if He doesn’t wash Peter’s feet then he has no part with him. So in Peter’s mind, he misunderstands the washing involved with the Law. His mind goes back to the “mik-veh”. Peter’s line of reasoning is, well if it’s going to be that kind of washing, then you need to wash my whole body. We need to perform a “mik-veh” kind of washing. We need to wash me head to foot. But Jesus immediately corrects him. He says, no, you don’t need that kind of washing. That is why the Greek uses a different word for wash in this one instance. The word “loo-oh” instead of “nip-to”. No, Peter. We don’t need to wash you head to foot because you are already clean completely. We just need to wash your feet every now and then.

Ok, now this is where it gets tricky, so we need to keep this straight when we say not just clean, but clean completely. Stay with me on this as I try to explain this. Because in this one statement Jesus begins to give a new meaning pertaining to baptism. They already understood baptism, the “mik-veh” as it pertains to cleansing regarding the Law and sanctification. But right here Jesus alludes to the fact that there is an even more complete cleansing. A different kind of cleansing. A cleansing not with water, but with the Holy Spirit. A washing of regeneration, that is, the new birth. A washing that results in a completely clean and righteous individual. That is Justification. Jesus told Peter, you are already justified, you are already clean, you just need your feet washed every now and then. The foot washing was the metaphor for Sanctification. It is significant that two different words are used here for “wash”. Because one is referring to justification which is a completed act, and the other refers Sanctification which is on-going. And Jesus even told his disciples in verse 14, this is an example. You are to do this to each other. Do you get that? We are involved in each other’s sanctification. We not only need our own feet washed, we help wash each other’s feet.

Why do we need our feet washed every now and then? Because they get dirty. That’s really the simple answer. We have a tendency to get dirty. Why do we get dirty? Because even though we are a new creature, even though the new birth has happened, and God’s righteous seed is in us, we still dwell in this body of flesh with is corrupted by sin. By the curse. And God wants us to bring that body under submission. Not for justification. That has already happened. But it is God’s desire for His people to be holy like Him. To be distinct, because if we identify with Him as a child of God, we should be like Him in all that we do. And that happens through Sanctification. The process by which we become more distinct from that which is like all the rest, and in doing so we produce more fruit, and all of this is well-pleasing to God. This is where we bring Him glory. Not in dwelling on our so-called wretchedness or depravity, but in aggressively striving to obey Him and be more like him.

Now that was a quick summary. In session 3, I hope to get into the more practical application of all of this, how this all works itself out in our day to day lives. And I want to get more into this question of why do we sin if we are righteous. And more importantly, how can we have assurance of salvation. Sanctification plays a big part of that. If we really understand the purpose of Sanctification, assurance of salvation isn’t even an issue.

______________________________________________________________________

Session 3: Practical Applications of Sanctification

Open PowerPoints in separate tab/window.

Alright, welcome to our last session on Sanctification.

It’s been a day and a half since I last had the opportunity to speak to you, so very quickly I want to do a review to bring us back up to speed on where we are with this subject.  Session 1, we defined our terms and we explored the relationship between holiness and sanctification.

Holy – a place or thing which is distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.

Sanctification – the process of cleansing for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else; or the purpose of making something holy.

This is our foundation for this subject matter.  Everything we discuss on this matter is based off of these two definitions.  And these definitions don’t belong to me.  This is how the Bible defines these terms.  That is what we spent our time in Session 1 doing, going through scripture, examining how these terms are used in scripture, and then based on their usage, we arrived at these definitions.

And then Friday evening, in Session 2, we examined this concept of cleansing and sanctification a little deeper, going back to the Old Testament and looking at how something was sanctified.  We explored the importance of washing with regard to sanctification and how the idea of baptism mentioned in the New Testament was a familiar concept to the Jewish culture because it was an integral part of the Law with regard to sanctification.  We finished session 2 looking at the account of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, and we saw how this was to be a metaphor for sanctification.  There were two different Greek words used for wash, in that account.  Jesus had told Peter, you don’t need a bath, you don’t need cleansed head to foot, because you are already completely clean.  You are already justified.  That part is finished.  You just need your feet washed every now and then.  Moreover, you need to wash each other’s feet.

So what we saw there was that not only is sanctification something that God does to us, as well as something that we are to strive to do ourselves, but we are instructed to participate in the sanctification of other believers.  We are to sanctify each other.  We are to be distinct and have God’s identifying character upon us and within us.  And that brings us to Session 3, and this afternoon I want to get real practical here.  I want to give us some tools to really understand the why and the how of sanctification in our lives.

I want to tie up some loose ends on some other things I alluded to in the previous sessions.  I made mention to this question of why believers still sin, and so I hope to tackle that and wrap that up, but there is also this question of is there any merit to good works.  You know we’ve all heard quoted the scripture about all our righteousness is as filthy rags, and we get constantly beat over the head with the notion of total depravity.  So I want to address this in the time I have left here.

You know I grew up going to church.  I’ve been saved ever since I was 7 years old.  I was blessed to have parents who were believers who taught me God’s word, and taught me at a young age that I was a sinner and I needed to be reconciled to God, and the only way that was possible was by believing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And my parents were old fashioned.  I think everyone thinks that about their parents, they’re just so old-fashioned.  They taught me, as a Christian you don’t do this, you don’t do that, you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, you don’t dance, you don’t listen to bad music, you don’t swear.  Of course I went along with all of that.  I figured they must know better than me.

But you know as I got older and started reading more of the Bible, I had a hard time finding a lot of these things in the Bible.  I went to a Christian school in my high-school years, and these questions kept coming up in Bible classes, and no one could ever really adequately answer these questions.  And I think this is where this concept of “legalism” really stems from.  Legalism is a made-up term.  It’s not found in scripture anywhere.  But we end up labeling things a legalistic I think when we fail to understand the principles behind them.  And that was really the problem, these teachers I had kept failing to apply sound Biblical principles that, when it comes right down to it, have everything to do with Sanctification.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I started attending what was at the time a very sound fundamentalist church.  And the pastor there had such a wonderful gift for teaching.  He wasn’t just lecturing you.  He actually taught, line upon line, precept upon precept.  I had never heard the Bible taught like this before.  I had never had so much truth so skillfully expounded to me before.  And during this time, the light when on in my head, and all of a sudden it was like – Oh!  So that’s why we’re not supposed to do all those things!  And that is when I first started to grasp this concept of Sanctification.  God is Holy.  I am his child.  He made me righteous, and because I am righteous, He wants me to continually strive to be like that which He has made me to be, because that pleases Him!

So I went on like that for 16 or 17 years.  But it is more recently, I have found myself driven deeper into God’s word, reading it, studying it, and I’m finding that the things I read in scripture don’t line up with what is being taught in churches, or has been taught for, yes, hundreds of years.  Orthodoxy has been substituted for doctrine.  And so I had another one of those light bulb moments, and I discovered this to be true.  The majority of the New Testament was written to believers.  Now that sounds real profound, doesn’t it.  But think about this for a moment.  The New Testament was written to believers.  It was written to people already saved.  Already Justified.

Now if you start from that premise, if the New Testament is written for people who are already Justified, then everything that is written is in fact an instruction manual for life.  It is not written to tell people how to maintain their Justification.  If you are a believer, your justification is already done.  It is written to teach justified people how God wants them to live their lives as His children.

Now granted, there are many passages that teach Justification, for example Romans, or Galatians.  And an unsaved person can certainly read those parts of the Bible and come to the knowledge of God and learn how to become saved.  But that doesn’t change the fact that these books were written to believers – written for the purpose to teach them to better understand God’s truth and how to discern false teaching regarding Justification, but more specifically, how to live their lives, not so that they could merit Justification, but so that they could please their God in Sanctification.  When we understand that the Bible is God’s instruction book to believers, that puts every doctrine we’ve ever been taught in a church all of our lives in a totally different perspective.

What is God’s goal for His children?  It is a theme that you find repeated over and over not just in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament as well.  We spent 2 whole sessions looking at that on Friday.  It is Sanctification.  It is for His children to be cleansed for the purpose of making them distinct from everyone else.  If you had to single out one verse out of all 66 books of the Bible, there is one verse that could not unequivocally state it any better or more succinctly that this:

1 Thessalonians 4:1-3

“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…”

There it is. That’s not me saying it. That’s God’s word saying it. Now deal with that. You cannot deny it. Paul is writing to believers. And look at the words he uses. We beseech you, we exhort you, we strongly encourage you. You already know the commandments we gave you. You know the imperatives. Do them. YOU do them. Why, so that you can merit righteousness? No, don’t you get it, you’re already saved, your justification is finished, you’re already righteous. You need to do this because it is pleasing to your Father!

Why do you have to exhort someone?  The word exhort in the Greek is the word παρακαλεω –  “para-ka-leh-oh”.  It means to call beside.  Picture that.  If our children are struggling with something, what to we do?  We say, come on over here next to me.  Why do we do that?  We don’t get in their face and talk at them.  And chew them out.  We call them beside us, and we put our arm around them.  What does that do?  Doesn’t that give them the sense that we are on their side?  That we are right there with them?  And when we do that we can encourage them to do whatever they know they should be doing already.  You already know this.  I know you have struggles.  I do, too.  You need to do this.  And that is what Paul is saying here to the Thessalonians.  He is pleading with them, begging them.  We beseech you.  This is so important for you to do this.  And consider this, if we have to be exhorted to do something, does that not suggest that first of all we don’t always do it, and secondly, that we are indeed able to do it?

Let’s explore this a little more.  Can we as believers please God?  Does God take pleasure in good works?

Let’s go to Colossians 1.  I’m going to comment on this passage as I read so that we get the context.

Colossians 1:1-10

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ …to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse…We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth…For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

Clearly a sanctification passage.  Clearly teaching that we can please God by performing good works.  Not to merit righteousness.  Paul already established that they are justified.  He knows he’s writing to saved people who are already righteous. But for the purpose of bearing fruit, growing in wisdom and the knowledge of God, and please God all the while that is happening.

Here’s another good one. Also in the book of Colossians.

Colossians 3:20-24

“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord…Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

Here we have the idea of fear.  And this is actual fear, the Greek word is “phobos”.  Pleasing God because we fear Him.  We don’t fear judgment, but we fear the loss of rewards that come with our inheritance.  Our inheritance is salvation, eternal life.  We can’t lose that, but we can suffer loss of rewards if we fail to live our lives in such a way that is pleasing to God.  And while we are on that subject, we should talk about that, because this is really the motivation for Sanctification, pleasing God because there are eternal rewards at stake.  Let’s turn over to 1 Corinthians 3:12.

Now let me put this in context for you.  Paul is addressing the Corinthians regarding the sectarianism that had developed among the assemblies there.  Basically what was happening is that rather than clinging to the truth of God’s word, they were showing devotion to a particular teacher.  They were saying, well Paul teaches this, or Apollos teaches this, or Peter teaches this.  And so these rifts had formed between the believers.  And so what Paul is trying to communicate here is that, look, all of these teachers build upon each other.  We don’t fight over it.  God is using each of these teachers to build you up so that you can go out and do good works in Sanctification.  So then we pick up in verse 12, and Paul says:

1 Corinthians 3:12-15

“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

So we have works that are of value verses works that are of no value, or even no works at all. The works that we do in sanctification that edify ourselves and others, that make us more distinct and allow us to bear more fruit, verses those things that don’t edify or if we fail to aggressively pursue the things that do.

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it,…

This is the day that we stand before the Bema.  The judgment seat.  This is not the Great White Throne judgement.  That is God’s judgment on the unsaved.  The Bema is the judgment seat of Christ where rewards are given to believers for how they lived their lives in Sanctification while still on earth.  Now I have no idea how this actually works, but we are told here that the Bema is a test of fire.  Somehow the believers works in Sanctification are tested by fire,

  …because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

 whether it is of value or not.  Whether it is durable enough to stand the test of fire.

If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

So there is the motivation in Sanctification.  This is why we strive to please God, because one day rewards will be given for how well we worked in Sanctification.  If we didn’t work at all, or if our works were of no value, they will be burned up by the fire, and there will be nothing left, and there will be no reward.  We still have eternal life.  That’s because Justification is already done.  What is at stake is not our justification, not salvation, not eternal life, but the rewards in the life to come.

Now if we understand that, then that puts an entirely different spin on another familiar passage, and it is one we looked at in Session 2.  Turn back to John 15.  Once again, this is the account of the vine and the branches.  In Session 2 we said this was a Sanctification passage, and Jesus was talking to believers.  Now, take what we have just looked at regarding the test of fire, regarding works, regarding fruit in the life of the believer, regarding eternal rewards, and look at John 15 once more.

In Session 2 we said this was a Sanctification passage because it involves cleansing the branches.  Pruning them back so that they can produce more fruit.  Now, despite the vinedressers best efforts to get a branch to produce fruit, despite God’s efforts to get us to work Sanctification in our lives so that we will be distinct for Him, look at what happens to the branch that fails to produce fruit.

John 15:6

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Now be careful with this and don’t misunderstand.  What Jesus is telling his disciples is not a test of whether or not you are justified.  He is pointing out the necessity for believers to abide.  He is pointing out why it is necessary for believers to pursue Sanctification.  Because if you don’t pursue sanctification, if you don’t strive to please God by living lives in obedience to His commandments, you are going to whither away as a believer, and you won’t produce fruit, and if you don’t produce fruit, then you are not going to be useful for God.  You’ll still have your salvation, you still have eternal life, but there will be no rewards.

There are serious consequences for failure to pursue Sanctification.  One is failure to receive rewards.  We see the fire mentioned here in John 15:6, the fire is the test that determines our rewards for our works.  We saw that in 1 Corinthians 3.  But what Jesus is telling us here is that sometimes, God has to deal harshly with believers.  If someone is not producing fruit and is withered and is of no longer useful to God, sometimes God takes the life of that believer.  He is still justified, he still has eternal life, but he’ll stand before the Bema, and the fire will come, and will burn away everything he had, and he’ll be left with nothing.  His salvation, but no rewards.

We’ve seen examples of that in scripture.  Ananias and Sapphira come to mind.  In Acts chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira conspired together to lie to the Holy Spirit regarding he sale of their property.  And that was such a serious matter to God, it had such potential to do great harm to the spread of the Gospel, that God dealt very harshly with them.  He took their lives.  They were saved.  They were justified, but God had to deal harshly with them for what they did.

So why does this happen?  Why do we need to be exhorted to pursue Sanctification?  Why do we need to be reminded to obey?  God gave us an instruction manual for how He wants us to live our lives, but we don’t do that all the time, do we?  We don’t do it perfectly.  But we are still commanded to do it.  And if we don’t, that’s ok, because our justification is based on how well we obey, it is based on the fact that we believed God.  The standard for righteousness has nothing to do with obedience.  The standard for righteousness is belief in God.

And because we believe God, and because we have been Justified, because He has made us righteous, we are new creatures, we have God’s seed in us that cannot sin, we are His Children, He is our Father, we have been adopted into His family, and He loves us as His children and we love Him as we love our Father.  And because we love Him, we have this desire to please him.  Again, I’m going to say this over and over until it finally sinks in, so that there is no misunderstanding, we want to please Him not to merit righteousness – say it with me, we already ARE righteous – we want to please Him because we love Him.  Jesus said in John 14:15, if you love me, keep my commandments.  That’s not a forgone conclusion, that is a command.  That is not an inevitability, that is something we must strive for.

Why must we be commanded to do it?  Because, unfortunately, we have this new creature existing in a body of flesh that is contaminated by sin.  Turn with me to a familiar passage.  Romans 7.  Paul is in the middle of presenting this great conflict he continually find himself in, despite the fact that he is a Justified believer.  Let’s pick this up in verse 18.

Romans 7:18

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Try to understand the significance of what Paul is saying here.  What is comes down to is, this body is not who we are.  The body is not us.  The us is something else.  Something spiritual.  There used to be an old us.  When we believed God and were Justifed, the old us died.  That old us is gone.  It was crucified and buried with Christ.  And a new us was created.  A perfect, righteous creature now exists where the old us used to be.  That is the new man.  The one that delights in the law of God, and wants to please Him!  But this new man is still stuck in this old body.  And this old body is corrupted by sin, and it wars against the new man.  And it tries to get me to obey it.  So when we sin, it’s not the new us doing it.  The new us can’t sin.  1 John 3:9.  It is born of God, it is God’s seed, it is perfectly righteous, it can’t sin.  It’s the flesh doing it.  And Paul concludes by saying basically, Oh get me out of this body so I don’t have to fight with this any more!

And so basically what it comes down to is that part of the Christian life is this endeavor to bring this body under submission.

Paul describes it this way,

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

We are to do it.  We have the ability to do it.  Be in control of our bodies.  Be in control of how we live our lives.  Because the body is what the world sees.  What we do with this body determines what the word sees.  How the world sees us is how the world sees God.  And if the world sees someone who is distinct from everyone and everything else, then God is pleased.  Because we represent God, and we show that God is distinct.

Now you take that principle, and you apply that to your own life, however that works itself out.  I’m not going to stand here and tell you, you have to stop doing this or you have to stop doing that.  That’s between you and God.  That’s a matter of maturity.  And as you read and study God’s word, as you mature, as you grow in knowledge and wisdom, as God’s word Sanctifies you, what happens, it cleanses you.  And as it cleanses you, you become more and more distinct.  This is a maturity issue.  We don’t all mature at the same rate.  We’re not all at same place in our sanctification.  And that’s ok.  We don’t have to be.  Because we are still Justified.  We are already righteous.  Just because you’re a little father along in your sanctification than I am doesn’t make you or me any more or less righteous.  And that is tremendous assurance.  I don’t have to be at the same place you are spiritually to know that I am saved.  I know that I am saved because at some point in my life, I repented of my unbelief, and I believed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you see now how a proper understanding of Sanctification give us assurance?  If salvation is based on performance, then we can never be sure if we’re saved.  And that’s what happens if you tie Sanctification to Justification.  But when you keep the separate, and understand that sanctification is not about righteousness but about holiness, about being distinct, then even at the times when I fail, I can just say, you know, I messed up that time, but thank God I am still His child.  I’m sorry I failed that time, Lord.  I’ll try harder next time.  Help me to do better.  Help me to spend more time in your word, so that I may be Sanctified by it, so that I may be more distinct for you.

I started off Session 1 with this verse, and I said that this was going to be the recurring theme throughout all 3 sessions.  1 Peter 1:16, “Be ye holy for I am holy.”  I know that this study on Sanctification has been by no means comprehensive.  I know I barely scratched the surface.  But I trust that you have been edified.  I trust that God’s word is powerful enough that the Holy Spirit can do infinitely more than any words I could ever say.  I thank you so much for your attention, for bearing with me as I went though this.  I want to thank Paul and Susan for their hospitality this weekend.  And I am humbled by the opportunity they gave me to present a topic that is dear to my heart.  I somehow don’t feel qualified enough to do this, but I am just glad that I was able to share with you some of the things that God has taught me in my own personal study of these issues.

 Do we have time for questions or comments?

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: