“For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14 NKJV).
It is absolutely impossible for anyone to be justified, holy, pleasing or acceptable to God based on his performance, self-righteousness, or good works.
God only justifies people or declares them forgiven and righteous, and sanctifies people or make them holy based on their faith alone in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ (Acts 5:1).
The born-again believers need not to strive or struggle to be holy in their own wisdom, strength or effort, for they have already been justified, washed, sanctified or made holy at the new birth. This is purely an act of grace, it is God’s gift; no human work or effort is required. We are to simply receive it by faith (1 Pet. 2:9, 1 Cor. 1:2, 6:9, Acts 26:18).
The Scripture states: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11 NKJV).
“By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10 NKJV). Praise God!
The primary reason why many born-again believers today are still struggling to walk in holiness is because they are setting the cart before the horse – they are striving to live a holy life in order to be holy, pleasing or acceptable to God, rather than embracing first the truth that they are already justified, washed, sanctified, pleasing or acceptable to God by their faith in Christ Jesus.
It is an exercise in futility and frustration to seek to live a holy life without knowing, understanding, believing and acknowledging the truth that you are no longer your old corrupt self but a new creation in Christ, that you are no longer a wretched sinner but a blessed saint in Christ, and that you are no longer an unrighteous person but you are now “the righteousness of God” in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:2, 2 Cor. 5:21).
By virtue of the new birth or spiritual regeneration you have become spiritually engrafted into Christ, thereby becoming one spirit with Christ.
The Scripture states: “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor. 6:17 NKJV).
The result of your spiritual union with Christ is that you now possess the same divine and holy nature that Christ has (2 Pet. 1:4).
Therefore, your regenerated or born-again spirit is now perfect, holy or set apart from sin unto God. For the Scripture states: “Because as He is, so are we in this world.” and “if the root is holy, so are the branches.” (1 John 4:17, Rom. 11:16 NKJV).
This is called “Positional or Instantaneous Sanctification.” It requires no work or effort on your part other than for you to place your faith in Christ. It is purely an act of God’s grace to be received by faith in Christ Jesus.
However, while it is true that the born-again believers have already been justified, washed and sanctified or made holy in Christ (positional or instantaneous sanctification) at the new birth, yet we are still being sanctified (progressive or practical sanctification) by the Holy Spirit using the truth of God’s Word, and we shall still be completely sanctified at the second coming of Christ (ultimate sanctification or glorification).
Having examined the first facet of sanctification (positional or instantaneous sanctification) process in the first part of this piece, let us go further to examine the second facet (the progressive or practical sanctification) of our sanctification process.
Sanctification is not just a state of holiness or separation unto God; it is also a day by day process of becoming increasingly conformed to Christ in our mind, thoughts, speech, desires, emotions, actions, conduct or character.
It is the process of growing in all things into Christ. It is growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29, Eph. 4:15, 2 Pet. 3:18).
The believers are presently perfectly like Christ in their born-again spirits, but not yet in their souls (will, mind and emotions) and bodies.
While your spirit has fully experienced the redemption that Christ purchased for you with His precious blood, your soul and your body are still in the process of experiencing this redemption fully. They will be fully redeemed at the second coming of Christ. This is why the Bible often speaks of our redemption in a future tense.
The Scripture states: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30 NKJV).
“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1 Pet. 1:9 KJV).
“For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” (Rom. 8:22-23 NKJV).
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3 NKJV).
While a newborn baby is perfectly loved and acceptable to his parents, yet his parents’ pleasure or joy is to see him grow up and develop healthily and steadily into a responsible adult.
Similarly, while it is absolutely true that you are perfectly loved and acceptable to God in Christ when you are born again into God’s family, yet God takes delight in seeing you grow up healthily and steadily “to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13 NKJV).
The day by day process of your developing, maturing or growing up to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ is called “Progressive or Practical Sanctification.”
While the Scripture confirms our instantaneous sanctification, it also speaks about our progressive or continuous sanctification.
The Scripture states: “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Hebrews 2:11 NKJV)
“By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10:10-14 NKJV).
While your developing, growing up, or increasing in likeness to Christ is also an act of grace done by the Holy Spirit, it however cannot be successfully achieved in your life without your constant and continuous participation, cooperation with, or submission to the Holy Spirit.
Your progressive sanctification or growing in all aspects into Christ is not entirely the business or work of the Holy Spirit; you have a great and definite role to play. If you constantly fail to play your role, you will also hinder the Holy Spirit from playing His role.
Being justified, washed and sanctified or made holy in Christ at the new birth (that is, positional sanctification) is simply a starting point or a precursor for a life-long walk of holiness (that is, progressive sanctification).
What is your primary role in progressive sanctification?
The renewing of your mind!
In the process of growing up in all things into Christ, you need to renew your mind constantly by constantly imbibing, meditating upon, and acting upon the teaching or words of Christ.
The Scripture admonishes: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2 RSV).
Beloved, it is as you constantly and continually expose your mind to the truth, the word of Christ, receive with meekness and faith His word or teaching, meditate upon His word, internalize the truths in His word, and act upon or obey His word that the Holy Spirit will transform you increasingly into the likeness of Christ, from glory to glory.
The Scripture testifies: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3:18 NKJV).
Friend, the Holy Spirit primarily cleanses or sanctifies the believers with the washing of the water by the word of Christ (Eph. 5:26). He employs the truth you know from God’s Word to sanctify or transform you increasingly into Christlikeness.
The Lord Jesus prays, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NKJV).
Therefore, when you are slothful or lazy in spending quality time daily or regularly to read, listen to, study, imbibe and meditate upon God’s Word, you are actually forestalling or preventing the Holy Spirit from sanctifying, changing or transforming you progressively or increasingly into Christlikeness.
How about the last facet of sanctification – the ultimate sanctification or glorification?
Find out in the last piece on this series!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to sanctify and transform me progressively and increasingly into Christlikeness. I refuse to hinder or forestall the Holy Spirit from doing His work in my life. Help me Lord to play my definite role in my progressive sanctification, in Jesus’ name. Amen.