Soteriology (Sanctification)

Last week, we saw that we stand before God as Jude 24 puts it blameless. We are not guilty in God’s courtroom. So now what?

Now you get deal with the doctrine of sanctification. This is the continuing work of God in the life of the believer whereby you become more and more holy. Notice I said continuing work; that is because the beginning work of God is regeneration. Titus 3:5 gives us a description of this work and describes it as “rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit”. For a longer treatment of this new birth and regeneration read Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus in John 3. In order to be saved you must be born again.

With that comes some responsibility; while regeneration is totally God’s work alone, sanctification is a synergistic (cooperative) work between man and God. At the moment of regeneration believers are indwelt with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Timothy 1:14, Romans 9 – 15, 1 John 2:27). This indwelling is designed by God: to give you connection to the Father, empower you for good works (Ephesians 2:10), and enable you to live a Godly life (Galatians 5:22 – 23). This work however, is cooperative. How do I know this? Pray for patience, I dare you.

The way the Spirit works is through our continued connection and love of God. As we grow in our knowledge of God (through Bible reading and study, listening to good teaching, fellowship with other believers) we grow in our love of God. The Spirit is able to use these things to prune the sin in our lives by showing us over time the sinful areas of our lives. So if we have anger problems, the Spirit brings us people and situations that would normally enrage us. Over time, we apply the Scriptures and counsel we have received to kill the anger that is inside of us.

This is the idea of working out your salvation (Philippians 2:12). This was part of the prayer of Paul for the church (1 Thessalonians 5:23) and is one of the proofs of our salvation (Philippians 1:6 & Luke 3:7 – 8).

So what?!?? You said this stuff was going to be important to my life!!!!! The declaration of being new (2 Corinthians 5:17) is real, and it is spectacular. Because God dwells within us, and is working with us, and is working for us; we can rest from our struggles. Rest, did you not just tell us we have to work in sanctification? I did, but this work is a joy (Matthew 11:28 – 30), and it is work with and through God. It is also a great comfort because our struggle with sin and dependence upon God is the great proof of His work for us. I know you’re thinking, “doesn’t feel like proof of good”, but it is. Read Hebrews 12, and know the God who promised these things is working to make you like Christ; and then rejoice. Rejoice because He loves you and is working with and through you to finish His great salvation.