SANCTIFICATION by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC
Introduction: Nicole’s grandfather, George Outlaw, grew up in a non-Christian home. After he got saved, he tried to tell his parents about Jesus, but they just laughed at him. There was a radical change in his life, and he couldn’t get enough of the Word of God. He went to a small country church in South Georgia, but it was the same old each week. After Nicole’s mom and dad moved to New Orleans for seminary, he and Nicole’s grandmother would go to visit them, and George would attend classes with Nicole’s dad. Unfortunately, George Outlaw died right after Nicole was born, but I remember Nicole’s dad, Pastor Jerry, my mentor, sharing with me how he would look over at his father-in-law in those classes and see tears streaming down his face, as he would say, “I knew there was more.” Sadly, that is the story of many Christians. They never realize that there is so much more to their Christian life, especially to their salvation. That has been the focus of this series, and today’s message is titled “Sanctification.” Here’s the message: Salvation is not just about forgiveness for my sins, it is also about deliverance from sin. It’s not just about forgiveness for what I have done, it is also about deliverance from who I am. Its not just about Christ dying for my sins, it is also about Christ delivering me from the power of sin through the Holy Spirit. This is Sanctification.
Romans 7 18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.”
Context: To understand who/what Paul is talking about, we need to first understand the meaning of “sanctification.” It comes from God’s primary attribute of holiness. God is holy, separated from sin and devoted to his honor and glory, and he wants us to be holy (Hebrew = kadosh, Greek = hagias). Leviticus 20:26 “you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.” So also, in the New Testament – 1 Peter 1 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” Jesus affirmed this in his earthly ministry in the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9 “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” In other words, “Treat it Holy” or “Sanctify your name.” Again, in his High Priestly Prayer, John 17:19 “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” Here’s the point: At salvation, our sins are forgiven, and we receive the righteousness of Christ, but we still have to contend with the old sin nature. The removal of this sin and victory over it is sanctification. It comes to us in 3 steps: 1. Positional Sanctification; 2. Progressive Sanctification; 3. Perfect Sanctification. No issue with our positional or perfect sanctification. 1 Corinthians 1:2 “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…” 1 John 3 2“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. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (pure = hagnos). The real struggle is about our progressive sanctification, and this is where our passage comes in. After much study through the years, I concluded that Paul was describing the saved person who was trying to live a holy life in his/her own strength and power. It described the struggle/angst/frustration of a believer against sin in his/her life – “Why do I do things that I don’t want to do?” “Why do I not do the things that I want to?”
To understand this, we will walk through Romans 6-8: Keep in mind that, we have two problems—sins (things we have done wrong) and sin (our sinful nature). Jesus took care of Problem #1 by taking our sins upon Him on the cross. He gave us His righteousness. But, that is only one half of our problem. Problem #2—what to do with our sin nature? What is Paul’s response? Romans 6 1 “…Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? What does that mean? We’re all born in the family of Adam– the family of sin. The Blood cleanses us from the debt of sins. We still carry the family germ of sin that was in Adam and was passed down to us. What we need is to get out of the family. The Blood cannot get us out of the family. The only way to get out of the family is by death. God already took care of that. 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?Someone may say, “I get it! I need to die to myself—my sinful nature. I need to crucify myself. I need to daily pick up my cross and walk behind Jesus.” Nope, that doesn’t work. 2000 years ago, when Jesus died for us, he not only died as our Substitute, but he also died as your Representative. He also died to represent our death in the family of Adam. So, 2000 years ago Christ was not only crucified for us but in the foreknowledge of God we were also crucified with Christ. In other words, God included my death in the death of Christ. Furthermore, 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, When Jesus went to the grave, you went into the grave with Him. What’s next? that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Meaning: When He rose from the grave, you rose from the grave.Verse 5 “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” It is all past tense. Your death, burial, and resurrection are applied to you the moment you are saved. That’s what baptism represents.The baptismal pool is really a coffin!
So where are we now with our sin nature? 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him…” The Old Nature was crucified with Christ. This does not mean that sin was crucified or eradicated. Neither does it mean that the old nature has been eradicated. Again, the Old Man has been crucified. It no longer has power over us. Someone may say — “why do I still sin if my Old Nature has been crucified?” When a person dies, it does not mean that they are eradicated. The body is gone but the Spirit lives on—either before God in heaven or in Hell waiting for judgment. Listen to verse 6 “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” Our Old Nature is no longer alive in the flesh. It is only alive in the Spirit. We have been set free. Listen to verse 7 “For he who has died has been freed from sin.” Unfortunately, most of us try to deal with sin by trying to strengthen the Old Man—suppress it, fight it, deny it, train it. I am not going to get angry; I am not going to be envious; I am not going to lust. Before you know it, you’re back in it. God deals with our sin nature by making us weaker and weaker; by removing the sinner; by putting us to death. But He doesn’t leave us dead. He gives us new life – 8 “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.”
Here’s the key point: God is not asking you to go crucify yourself or to go do penance for your sin. It’s all past tense. The place to begin is to KNOW that this has been done for you. You have been set free. Open the eyes of your heart and see who you are in Christ. You may not feel it; you may not understand it but you have it. Just accept it. Romans 6 10 “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The word “reckon” can be a little confusing. We say “Are you coming to the birthday party?” “I reckon.” It means “I guess” or “I think” or “maybe.” That is not the meaning here. The Greek word logizomai means “count” or “calculate.” Let me warn you – the moment you start reckoning, be ready for a fight. The Devil will fight you tooth and nail. He will lie to you. He will point out all your faults. You will have to reckon every moment who you are in Christ. As long as we keep our eyes on Christ, we are able to walk this life. Every time, like Peter, we take our eyes off Christ, we begin to sink. When we abide in Him and obey Him, that’s when we walk in victory.
12 “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.”What the Bible is saying is, “Now that you know that you have died in Christ and are alive in Him; now that you have reckoned this to be a fact; what’s next? Your mortal body belongs to God. Your eyes/ears/mouth/hands/feet/every inch of you is His. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. When I hear someone who claims to be a Christian say, “My money, My time, My house, My job.” You have a problem. Either you are still lost or you don’t get it. Everything is now His. I am no longer to sin because these eyes, mouth, hands, feet, everything belongs to Him. We are His slaves.
KNOW – RECKON – PRESENT
Romans 6:17 “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” What does it mean to obey from the heart that form of doctrine? Imagine there is a person here who is lost—does not know Christ. Somehow the gospel comes to this person—maybe through preaching; maybe through a friend; maybe through a bible study; maybe through singing. This person is convicted that they are lost and Jesus is the Only Hope. Now he/she has a decision to make: What will I do with Jesus? When this person receives Christ as their Savior, they obey from the heart. This is not half-obedience, partial-obedience. This is full obedience as to who Christ is; why He came; what He did for them. At the very moment, the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell in that person. God makes that person’s spirit a new spirit and that person’s spirit becomes one with God’s spirit. As long as this new believer is obedient to the light that God has given to him/her, the Holy Spirit has access to flow through that life, body, and environment and reproduce the life of Jesus Christ. Why? Because that person obeyed from the heart. Now this person is going to grow in grace. Now one-by-one the Holy Spirit wants to set this person free – Tithing, Bad Habits, Addictions, Temper, etc. What’s the result? Romans 6:22 “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”
Unfortunately, some people reject the KNOW – RECKON – PRESENT and OBEY FROM THE HEART way, and they choose to turn to the Law. Romans 7:6 “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” They make up their minds that they will keep the Law. They promise God that they will do what the Law has commanded. I will not lie. I will not cheat. I will not lust. Young people – I will obey my father and my mother. On and on. Instead of keeping the law and the commandments, something completely opposite begins to happen – 8 “But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.” Instead of more victory and growth and holiness, the law only incites more sin. We actually begin to deal with issues that we thought we had moved past. In fact, sometimes we begin to deal with issues that we did not know existed. Listen to verse 9 “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” There’s some controversy here as to what this means, but I think this is about the reintroduction of the Law in the Christian life without the proper understanding of its new role. The problem is not with the Law.Romans 7 14 “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” Unfortunately, we try different things at this point: blame others, give up, stop going to church, reading their Bibles, become Christian agnostics and skeptics, pour yourself in some ministry, turn to some habit, hobby, or lifestyle. The whole time we are living in guilt and condemnation. Some even doubt their salvation, and some even walk away from their faith. What is really going on? God is taking us through the stage of SELF-REVELATION. He is trying to bring us face-to-face with the real us. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find…20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 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. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Here comes the answer – 25 “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” Finally, we are coming full circle back to Christ and our union with him! When we come back to him, we discover the secret to winning the battle within. Romans 8 1“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” The battle is not between the old nature and the new nature. It is between the old nature and the indwelling HOLY SPIRIT. Faith frees the Holy Spirit to work. Romans 8 mentions the Holy Spirit more than any other chapter in the whole Bible. He is referred to 19 times in this chapter.
13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Invitation: Do you know Christ as your Savior and King? Did you know that the Christian life doesn’t stop there? Can you see why George Outlaw said, “I knew there was more!”