In Living Like a King, Richard Rohlin will be examining the kings of Israel and Judah during the Divided Kingdom period. He’ll look at the good, the bad, and the ugly, and from them we’ll learn together what kind of men we ought – or ought not – to be.
In the last post in this series, we discussed salvation, and specifically sanctification, and the central role that sanctification takes in forming and shaping the Worshipful Man. In today’s post, we want to flesh that idea out a little more and think critically about what sanctification looks like in the life of the believer. Based on that, here are six meditations on Sanctification.
First, Christian maturity is an act of sanctification. James 1:4 says it this way: “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The idea here is that trials and tribulations (which are the context for this verse) are intended to make us more Christ-like (which is the meaning of sanctification). And what is the end result? It’s a “perfect and complete” man – a mature Christian, who is not lacking in any of things necessary for mature Christianity.
Second, sanctification is an act of grace – not a force of will. You cannot, as some have taught, will yourself to be sanctified. You cannot overcome sin by the power of your mind or by sheer force of will, because sanctification is only a part of salvation and salvation is always, always, by grace.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
Third, sanctification is fed by the Word of God. If it is a gift of grace, it is meant to be nurtured daily by the Word of God. The Word of God is the ultimate revelation – literally God’s revealing Himself to us. There is no better way to spend time with God, no more sure way to bask in His presence, then to read the Bible. And it’s spending time in God’s presence that brings about the work of Sanctification. Paul said it this way:
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2Co 3:18)
This is the reason that Scripture, which we’re told is “given by inspiration from God” is “profitable”, or useful .
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may becomplete, equipped for every good work. (2Ti 3:16-17)
That is one of the most important reasons we have the Bible. Without it, there is no growth as a believer.
Fourth, sanctification is grown in the church. The “church thing” is not optional for the mature Christian. You cannot be “just as spiritual” at home listening to a podcast or watching a preacher online because that is simply not the way the Designer designed things to work. Even in the early church, there were those who were trying to make “Lone Ranger Christianity” work – those who thought they could be Christlike without the exhortation, encouragement, and accountability afforded by a local body of believers. We know this because the writer of the book of Hebrews takes them to task:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb 10:24-25)
Fifth, sanctification begets obedience. This is because as we become more Christlike, we will be more in sync with Christ. We do not need to will ourselves to obey because as we become more like Jesus, so do our desires. This is what some have referred to as “doing by desire”, and it is how we were intended to live.
Finally, obedience begets more sanctification. It’s an endless cycle of faith, obedience, more Christlikeness, more faith, more obedience, and more Christlikeness. That’s what it means to be a real man. You are not all you should be, and that in and of itself makes you a living testament to the good grace of God.