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Is anything in life accomplished in an instant? From learning to speak, to winning a girl’s heart, to career advancement, all development is a progression of incremental steps – each one building on the previous.

One might ask, “What if the last step was wrong or injurious?” In that case the next step is toward restoration; and stepping all the more needful.

The point here is that life is not a collection of events, but of processes. Even our birth begins with two cells becoming one, then two, then four, and so on. All physically animate things move in a direction – birth, growing and dying.

Recognizing this, the wise man does his best to organize his steps in the most profitable manner (meaning, he puts more than a little thought into his choices). The laisse faire approach to life rarely ends well.

Knowing that the natural life operates in process, why then would Christians live as though the spiritual life is any different? Why wouldn’t we readily recognize our spiritual life as more than a disconnected collection of events?

I will tell you why; because our carnal mind is at enmity with the Spirit, and opposed to our spiritual development. It is active in distracting and deceiving us.

We are being moved in a spiritual direction – toward evil or good, death or life. We must fight against our carnal mind for the spiritual processes that have been given to us by God for our maturation. These include sanctification, transformation, and salvation.

Furthermore, obedience to every command of the Father and Son is a process (hear, obey, act). Walking in the Spirit is a process. Faith is the process of God whereby His word to us becomes His work – over and over again, faith to faith.

This brings to mind another spiritual truth: These processes are iterative; they repeat in God-prescribed patterns. This is one of the reasons why spiritual disciplines work. Again, this is not unlike our life in the physical realm – the workday being a good example. Repetition and patterns are common to both physical and spiritual development. Read the rest of this entry »

The elementary principles are for more than our understanding. By grace, we come to believe the word of God in regards to each one; and particularly here, that faith toward God is a foundational principle of our life in Christ Jesus.

Furthermore, our believing is suspect if there is not accompanying work. Faith without works is dead. The work of faith is most often thought of as the outward manifestation of our faith (e.g., feeding the hungry, clothing the naked). However, there is another working that accompanies faith; and it is the work that must come first.

In this concluding part, we will explore the two-fold work of faith toward God. For those of you that have not searched out the deeper meaning of faith, Part 1 is a good place to start. To understand the importance of “toward God”, read Part 2.

Faith’s Work in the Believer

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

As we begin, it is important to recognize that faith is a gift of God. We will not find faith in ourselves; nor are we able to create faith, in ourselves or others. This is common knowledge among the followers of Jesus Christ.

However, we must ask ourselves: How many evangelistic crusades, revivals, and worship services are now focused on “working up faith” in the seeker? This is a dangerous and soulish deception. Faith comes from one source. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowIn our last article on the sayings of Jesus, we discovered that His “judge not” is the pronouncement of guilt, sentence and punishment for the sin in our brother (or sister). Such judgment is reserved for God. We also learned that this saying does not excuse us from our responsibility to lovingly help our brother identify and remove the sin in His life. In fact, Jesus immediately described the first step in that restoration process.

Here we will learn the process for helping our brother find the grace to live a life without sin, for his benefit and that of the church. As we begin, it is important to recognize a few things:

  1. Identifying and addressing the sin in a brother is not judgment. It is an act of love; that he might not face the judgment of God (1Corinthians 5:1-5; James 5:19-20). Conversely, to ignore or accept sin in a brother is to not love him.
  2. To hold our tongue when God has made us aware of sin, makes us guilty of that sin, and subject to God’s judgment of it (Ezekiel 3:16-21).
  3. The primary meaning of krinō is “to separate, put asunder”. This is very similar to the meaning of sanctify: to cleanse, purify and separate from profane things; and dedicate to God. God’s children are to be instruments of sanctification for the church.

This may come as a surprise to you. You may be experiencing a resistance to it – even a strong one. Be encouraged to prayerfully consider your responsibility to your brother, the church and, most of all, to God. One of the primary reasons for the spiritual weakness of the church in America is our failure in this area.

Also, be encouraged that the Father knew the challenge this would be for His children. He graciously gave us a process for it, beginning with our own sanctification.

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

God is intentional and shrewd in His orchestration of our relationships. Very often He puts people in our lives to help us see the sin in ourselves. We would be wise to consider every sin we notice in someone else as a sin God is trying to remove from our own eye. Here’s an interesting thought: The only way to see your eye is in a mirror.

Therefore, once we have noticed a sin in our brother, our first step for his restoration is to ask God to search our hearts; to see if there is any wicked way in us (Psalm 139:23-24). Whatever time it takes, this step must be completed before moving on. Read the rest of this entry »

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