What We Beleieve - Salvation (pt.2)
Sanctification does not occur as a separate step after salvation; rather, it is the working out of one’s salvation into the whole of life and practice. It is not simply ethical conformity but the conformity of one’s entire life into the image of God. Sanctification is the natural application of justification: those who have been declared holy are now made holy. It is the natural development of regeneration: those who have received new life now live out this life as they grow in Christ. It is also the natural implication of adoption: God’s beloved children imitate him in holiness and purity. Christians are enabled to do good works that please and honor God, love and serve others, and represent God’s character and ways before the world (John 15:5, 8; Rom 7:4; 1 Cor 10:31; Gal 6:2; Jas 2:14–22).
Although sanctification is first and foremost a supernatural work of God in a person’s life, it also requires the active cooperation of the person through faith, obedience, and submission to the divine work (Rom 6:19; 12:1; Phil 2:12–13; 2 Tim 2:21; Heb 12:14). God has provided various means by which Christians can participate in their growth toward holiness and union with God. These include prayer, the reading and meditation of Scripture, fellowship with other believers in the church, the use of spiritual weapons (Eph 6:10–20), the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23), and the gifts of the Spirit for God’s mission in the world (Rom 12:3–8).
Man needs God to continue and preserve his spiritual life, just as much as he needed God to begin it at the first. Creation in the spiritual, as well as in the natural world, needs to be supplemented by preservation;
Regeneration is instantaneous, but sanctification takes time. The “developing” of the photographer’s picture may illustrate God’s process of sanctifying the regenerate soul. But it is development by new access of truth or light, while the photographer’s picture is usually developed in the dark. This development cannot be accomplished in a moment. “We try in our religious lives to practise instantaneous photography. One minute for prayer will give us a vision of God, and we think that is enough. Our pictures are poor because our negatives are weak. We do not give God a long enough sitting to get a good likeness.”
Salvation is something past, something present, and something future; a past fact, justification; a present process, sanctification; a future consummation, redemption and glory. David, in Ps. 51:1, 2, prays not only that God will blot out his transgressions (justification), but that God will wash him thoroughly from his iniquity (sanctification). E. G. Robinson: “Sanctification consists negatively, in the removal of the penal consequences of sin from the moral nature; positively, in the progressive implanting and growth of a new principle of life.… The Christian church is a succession of copies of the character of Christ. Paul never says: ‘be ye imitators of me’ (1 Cor. 4:16), except when writing to those who had no copies of the New Testament or of the Gospels.”
; Rom. 6:12—“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof”—sin dwells in a believer, but it reigns in an unbeliever
(b) That the existence in the believer of these two opposing principles gives rise to a conflict which lasts through life.
Gal. 5:17—“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would’—not, as the A. V. had it, ‘so that ye cannot do the things that ye would’; the Spirit who dwells in believers is represented as enabling them successfully to resist those tendencies to evil which naturally exist within them; James 4:5 (the marginal and better reading)—“That spirit which he made to dwell in us yearneth for us even unto jealous envy”—i. e., God’s love, like all true love, longs to have its objects wholly for its own. The Christian is two men in one; but he is to “put away the old man” and “put on the new man” (Eph. 4:22, 23). Compare Ecclesiasticus 2:1—“My son, if thou dost set out to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation.”
1 Tim. 6:12—“Fight the good fight of the faith”—ἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστεως = the beautiful, honorable, glorious fight; since it has a noble helper, incentive, and reward. It is the commonest of all struggles, but the issue determines our destiny. An Indian received as a gift some tobacco in which he found a half dollar hidden. He brought it back next day, saying that good Indian had fought all night with bad Indian, one telling him to keep, the other telling him to return.