Friday, November 12, 2010

random journal thoughts on sanctification

First, I think of spiritual formation and the process of sanctification as synonymous. I believe process is the right word for sanctification. Catholics would say that justification and sanctification are fused as one, and together we would progress in our justification and sanctification through God's INHERENT grace in us. The Protestant gospel says, the event of justification was a one-time deal 2000 some odd years ago, where Christ IMPUTED his righteousness to us in justification on the cross, and sanctification is occurring in and through us currently by the work of the spirit. Due to my plagued nature and Satan's temptation, it's very easy to convince myself that 'God was the actor in justification, and we are the actors in our sanctification'. I think that is a very prevalent misconception, and heresy, because it does not fully encapsulate the incredible grace of Christ, who rescued us, and has sent his spirit to work in and through us now as his children. Bottom line, I believe God was the actor in justification, and to the same extent, is the actor in sanctification, as it is a complete result of His grace we can make choices to change and pursue holiness. Here is quote by Bryan Chappel, President of Covenant Seminary in St. Louis from his book "Holiness by Grace"...

"Grace overwhelms us with God's love, and as a result our heart resonates with the desires of God. His purposes become our own. Our soul delights in his service as love for him and thanksgiving for his mercy make us long to honor him. True grace produces joy and promotes godliness."


In short, it's not about doing stuff that makes us more holy. The wonderful gospel story of our justification in essence should fuel our sanctification. It is out of complete thankfulness and joy due to grace of Christ's finished work that we should move one ounce of flesh to godliness. It is still the working of the spirit that leads us to these actions. As we are now in Christ, if we truly are, our actions, our labor, our fruit, should point to the root of what Christ has done. It will always be about that, and never about our what we are doing.

One more thing, is that I do believe sanctification is cooperative. You have all know these verse, but as Paul writes in Philippians 2: 12-13...

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."

...As it states, Paul commands us to work it out. It's not easy, and it does take something on our part. But I don't believe goal #1 is eliminating sin, as I know I often think. It's impossible, and discouraging to have it that way. That cannot be the standard by which we measure our sanctification, because it is an inconceivable scale. It is dealing with sin that is on the scale of infinity, and playing a game of balance in our minds and functionally in our actions only promotes pervasive, but well hidden pride. I believe our goal in pursuing holiness should be to align our affections with those of Christ Jesus. Eliminating sin is an obvious result of becoming more holy, but it can't be the focus. Practically, we should be moved to dive into scripture to learn it, as we are now in Christ, we are one of his people, and should know what our King commands. If we are going to identify with him in our rescue, we should also identify with him in everything else...we should come eager to the Lord in prayer and ask for his grace and forgiveness and strength...we should seek actively to serve our brothers. However, I know this stuff is not easy to want to do. Many times I don't want to do it and choose not to. I think as we go through those periods in our lives, probably daily, we should constantly be preaching the gospel to ourselves and asking God to reveal to us more fully the beauty of his grace and the power of his work on the cross. I truly believe it is through hearing the word of God, the gospel more, we will become so much more moved to action.

As we seek to grow in our faith, may we not look inwardly to ourselves, but outwardly to Jesus, and what he has done for us all by grace. May we refocus our vision from trying to improve our faith, to the object of our faith itself, Jesus Christ.

These are jumbled thoughts I wanted to get down before going back to class. I love you guys all so much, and am so thankful I have friends who want to talk about these things. I look up to you all (not just in the physical dimension..pun) and need your prayers. Can not wait to see you all next week, and to hear more about your thoughts on this topic. It is multifaceted, but I'm sure scripture is deep with wisdom.


  1. love it Josh. Few random thoughts. It is vital that we root our sanctification in our union with Christ. By grace along through faith alone, we are justified, and united to Christ. Being united to Christ means we are united to Him in life and death (Romans 6). We are dead to sin, because Christ died to sin. We have new life because Christ resurrected. Therefore, only because of our union with Him are we able to grow in this Christian life.

  2. "Mortification is the outworking of our union with Christ in his death to sin" ---Sinclaire Ferguson

  3. great thoughts. you have a very unique ability to take jumbled thoughts and to place them in biblical context.