by Ajay Chakravarthy (based on RLCF Bible Study on March 2, 2016)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:23
When you think of sanctification what comes to mind, is it a thought of a dreary life of struggling to keep oneself pure? It was definitely not the same feeling that you got the day you were saved and the weight of your sins was lifted, was it?
Is sanctification truly something that we should dread? If we look at the life of Christ we never see that He had such an experience nor did the apostles. It was only in the lives of the Pharisees that we look at a life which was a struggle to maintain an external holiness without any joy.
The devil has done much to cloud our understanding of sanctification. This is an area where we need the Holy Spirit to renew our minds (Rom. 12:2) to see sanctification in the right way.
We see in Rom. 14:17 there are three areas in which the kingdom of God is realized in our lives through the Holy Spirit, righteousness, peace and joy. We often think of sanctification just being about righteousness but a righteousness that doesn’t have peace or joy can be the righteousness of the Pharisees that was external and judged others. Let us be careful to see that the working of true sanctification in our lives has righteousness but also the evidence of God’s peace and joy.
• Have we ever thought of sanctification as a bride getting herself ready for her bridegroom? Was it a struggle for Esther to prepare herself 12 months for her king/bridegroom (Esther 2:12)? We read in Ephesians 5:25-30, we see Jesus cherishing and nourishing His bride in the context of sanctifying His church. (What Joy!)
• What did the first sanctification look like? God was the one who initiated sanctification by sanctifying the seventh day (Gen. 2:3), we know from Hebrews 4:9 that this was to be a rest that the people of God were to enter into. If we were to ask Adam and Eve what sanctification was to them, they would have said it was resting and spending time with the Lord. (Oh What Peace!)
• God desire’s that we would be useful and honorable and so sanctifying does involve keeping ourselves clean for the prize of fellowship and being a coworker with the Lord (2 Tim. 2:21) (And also Righteousness!)
We read in 1 Peter 3:15 that we are told to sanctify Jesus as Lord in our hearts, sanctification needs to start there, from the inside of the cup. That is where we are not careful we can be deceived to carefully to wash the outside of the cup for an external testimony and neglect the sin that there is in private (Matt. 23:25, 26).
The Holy Spirit is the one who sanctifies us (1 Pet. 1:2) but like most aspects of salvation we are also called to sanctify ourselves, i.e. freedom from slavery of sin to be a bond-servant of Christ (Rom. 6:22). And so you can see that balance of us working out that which God works in us (Php. 2:12, 13).
In KJV, it speaks of the “remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). We may have heard of someone being in remission from cancer. Cancer is in remission when the person has taken the treatment and then the cancer has not been found. But there is a constant observation and care taken to ensure that the cancer doesn’t come back. Now if we read Rom. 6:23 with that analogy of cancer, it says “the outcome of cancer is death, but remission of cancer through treatment (sanctification) is health and life.”
May the Lord open our understanding (Luke 24:45) that we rightly see and obey the truth of sanctification (Romans 6:17).