Sanctification is a beautiful word. It is the means by which we are made “holy” and become like God. The literal meaning is to “set apart as God’s possession”.
Salvation is objective. It is something that occurs to us and is from outside of us. In natural birth you are only born once. We may forget the birthday of others, but not our own. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born of God.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:3-5).
Paul wrote, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God . . . but that is what some of you were. . . but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:9).
This is why Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Present sanctification is subjective. Born once by his grace, and that begins the on-going never ending growth as a Christian. Human cooperation with the work of the Holy Spirit is paramount in our continued growth and maturity unto holiness. Born again once, then grow. Not grow once again and be born. The new birth is the beginning of the new life of growing that is never complete in this life. As it is in our human life, so it is in our spiritual life.
Paul explains it this way “Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? By no means . . . I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever increasing wickedness, so now offer them (your bodies) in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness . . .For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:15-23).
We are not righteous in ourselves. We take in our lives the righteousness of Christ. We are not holy in ourselves, but we take in our lives the holiness of God. These are the gifts they offer in beginning our life anew. “Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22).
Take this simple test. Answer in your minds, yes or no. Could you pray more? Could you give more? Could you study more? Could you teach more? Could you serve more? Could you do more? Could you help more? Could you sacrifice more?
You have answered correctly by saying “Yes” to these seven simple questions. Under the law, it says “You are a sinner, damned to Hell”. The teaching of “LAW-WORKS” will do that to you every time.
Turn the words “Law-Works” into “LORD-GROW” and you will quickly understand the beauty of his Grace. Answer again, Yes or No. Do you pray some? You say “yes”, God says, “wonderful, grow and talk to me more often”. Do you give some? You say, “yes”, Christ says, “Great, continue to grow in this grace and your blessings will fill your basket to overflow!” Do you study some? You say, “Yes”.
Paul says, “Study to show yourself approved unto God” – grow! Do you teach some? You say, “Yes”. Jesus would say, “Marvelous, teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have said unto you – keep growing”. Do you serve some? You say, “Yes”, You are becoming like Jesus who said, “I came not to be served but to serve” – You’re growing fine.
The bottom line to all the questions you face in your life in Christ is “Wonderful, marvelous, great, just continue to “Grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).
In teaching, I would often find four boys sitting in the front. “Boys, your scripture is I Peter 5:10. Let me apply to each of you, one by one. “And to the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered awhile, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever, amen”.
To the first boy I would say, “suffering is ahead” and to the second, “He will make you strong”, to the third, “He will make you firm”, and to the fourth, “He will make you steadfast.”
Right now, these things are not fully yours, but in time, you will be.