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Actions That Are Not Components of the Call to Sanctification
Before beginning a journey into the deeper call to sanctification, take first a closer look at things that do not sanctify. In this manner we can close the door on foolishness and enter into an unhindered discussion on what it means to take the Christian high road.
Sanctification is not a religious process. It is a spiritual position gained through purposeful obedience to the will of God in your life. Walking the Christian high road is more than an outward display of Christian activities. It is a commitment to live according to the principles and precepts established by God through His holy teachings.
When writing of things that do not sanctify, I speak concerning works of the flesh as opposed to the inner workings of the Holy Spirit. This preliminary discussion of how men use fleshly concepts in their efforts to promote purity will last but a moment – merely long enough to permanently eliminate the silliness of man-crafted designs.
Never let the flesh hinder the meaning of sanctification. Taking the Christian high road refers to walking in the Spirit, with the absolute assurance of Jesus as your guide. Only then can you fully answer the Christian call to sanctification.
Things that do not sanctify
Legalism. The legalist lives a life that is bound by a falsely perceived obedience to rules and regulations. The Pharisees established exact patterns, traditions and methods that they deemed necessary for keeping the flesh clean. Furthermore, their distorted viewpoint of holiness includes men-issued regulations as though this were an essential component of a clean spirit.
Such men are incapable of merely expounding the meaning of scripture. Due to an evil and wicked heart, they are driven to create a precise measure of how to be obedient to those scriptures. For this reason, Jesus warned his disciples to avoid the doctrines of the Pharisees.
“The Pharisees,” he said, “…bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Matt. 23:4).
Then came the apostle Paul with further clarification in this matter of legalism. Men must not permit the law to “…frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain,” (Gal. 2:21).
Now we understand that there is a distinction between righteousness and sanctification:
- I am righteous because God has declared me righteous
- I am sanctified through the ongoing inner workings of the Holy Spirit.
If you are to walk the Christian high road, you must make a personal commitment to walk according to a Holy Spirit lead call to sanctification. It is not defined by legal terms or a recorded checklist of specific actions. It must be a heartfelt response to the revealed truths within God’s holy word.
Secularism. In Mark chapter eight and verse fifteen, Jesus said unto the disciples, “…beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” but he did not stop at that point. To be more precise he continued with these words, “… and of the leaven of Herod.”
We see here not only warnings against the dangers of legalism, but also an injunction against the secular measures of the non-believing world. Due to the deceit within their own heart, men seek a method of goodness that excludes Jesus Christ.
- Legalism arises from within the ranks of the Christian church
- Secularism presses in from the world without.
Hypocrisy. No one can be cleansed by talk-without-heart. Outward behavior that lacks authenticity is an invalid reflection of inward thoughts. Jesus made it perfectly clear when he spoke to the Pharisees in this manner: “Well hath Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.’”
Then he spoke of hypocrisy in:
- Vain worship
- Teaching as commandments the doctrines of men
- And the inner man who rejects the commandments of God.
Though outwardly obedient, in a certain polished manner, hypocrites live in the blackness of their heart. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride foolishness.”
Ignorance. There are two forms of ignorance that can hinder your Christian call to sanctification:
- We know not what is expected of us and therefore we sin
- We know what is expected of us but we ignore God and sin none-the-less.
Throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, sins that reflect the first measure of ignorance were cleansed through grace. When ignorant people heard and respond to the word of God, their previous sins of ignorance are covered beneath the umbrella of honest faith. In the Old Testament, sacrifice and atonement became a way of life. In the New Testament, the sacrifice is already completed. Yet the principle of covered ignorance remains intact.
But of the second group, the ignorant in spirit, God has spoken words such as these, “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber,” (Isaiah 56:10).
The man in the back bush of a pagan land, without teacher or scripture has an excuse – at least until God provides him a greater measure of light. But those who deliberately choose to lay out of church week after week, those who will not fellowship with other Christians, and those who ignore their thirst to spend time in God’s word are as the blind watchmen and have no understanding of what is the call to sanctification.
No, rather than consecration, such willful ignorance leads men into more unrighteousness: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God,” (Romans 10:3).
Unbelief. Unbelief comes in three forms, each of which limits your capacity to walk the Christian high road:
1) There exists a primary unbelief that can only be healed through a face-to-face encounter with the living God. This unbelief arises out of honest ignorance, as is defined by the apostle Paul in 1-Tim. 1:12,13, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief”.
In all who would be saved, at some point during the course of life this form of unbelief must come face-to-face with the saving grace of Christ Jesus.
2) There is also a form of unbelief that can be healed through perseverance, seeking, and asking. Jesus said to the father of the one with a dumb spirit, “…all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,” (Mark 9:23-24).
See in this a faith that is hindered by a lack of trust in God’s power to perform all that he says he will do. This is faith strengthen by a willingness to seek more. This is sufficient faith to believe in God without truly knowing God.
3) Last of all there is an unbelief that is unto death, for it shares the fate of hypocrisy and refuses to hold fast to revealed truth. No matter what the outward or the temporary show of positional cleanliness, an evil heart of unbelief will, in the end, depart from the living God.
It is written: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us,” (1-John 2:19). This form of unbelief attaches itself to a shadow of faith yet births a lack of commitment to carry through to the end.
The Call To Sanctification, A Work Of The Holy Spirit
Perhaps I have written too much concerning those things that do not sanctify. Yet in knowing what roads not to travel, one reaches their destination quicker and with fewer struggles along the way.
Sanctification (to be set apart) is a three-part work of the Holy Spirit:
1) Positional Sanctification. This is conversion. Working through our physical senses, the Holy Spirit stirs our heart so that we can grasp truth in God’s written and spoken word. This causes us to recognize our sinful and hopeless state. Acting then from the depths of a humble and repentant heart, we willingly embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior. God forgives our sins, sets us apart and marks us as his own. This part of the process is a finished work, marked in the book of life and sealed by the power of the eternal Triune God.
2) Progressive Sanctification. Christians are a work in process. Day by day, moment-by-moment, the Holy Spirit increases our spiritual understanding so that sin becomes more sinful and grace becomes more meaningful. Within us grows a hunger and thirst for righteousness and practical sanctification. Through measured steps, the Holy Spirit develops within us the living characteristics and attributes of God. Cleanliness and holiness begin to matter. Learning to love and care takes on purpose and value. The Spirit within expands and we strive with all our might to reflect the living image of Jesus Christ.
3) Complete Sanctification. This is eternal life. It begins with the death of this natural body, or the Rapture, and will be fully complete only when our spirit is reunited with a glorified body to ever remain in the Holy presence of the living God.
The Call To Sanctification, A High Road Defined As A Christian Duty To Respond.
Phillippians 1:6 establishes, with certainty, that God will – within all believers – complete the process of consecration: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Many scriptures confirm the fact that God performs the sanctification of man:
· “… that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you,” (Ex. 31:13) · “And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you,” (Lev. 20:8) · “And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel,” (Eze. 37:28) · “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth,” (Jesus in John 17:17) · “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the water by the word,” (Eph. 5:26), speaking of the body of the Church.
Yet this is not a work that is without our assistance. Each Christian bears a direct and personal obligation to make a correct response to the call to sanctification. Using Peter as His instrument, the Holy Spirit pens it in this manner:
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light,” (1 Peter 2:9).
The call to sanctification is personal. It is all encompassing to the Christian world and not limited to Jew or gentile, male or female. See here the confirmation of these words:
- “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn…” (Ex. 13:2)
- “And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them,” (Ex. 19:22)
- “Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assembly the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts…” (Joel 2:16)
- “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation,” (1-Peter 1:15).
The Lord has established a pattern of expectation. One hundred and thirty two times throughout scripture, God calls for His people to he holy and sanctified:
- At times, the command requires that we sanctify the Lord. In this context we understand the meaning to be that we are to acknowledge and proclaim before the entire world the Holiness of the eternal God
- At other times it is God proclaiming his own holiness
- And finally, there are occurrences, in which the command is a call for men to hunker down, speak truth, honor their word, and cleanse their lifestyle.
Taking The Christian High Road
I will finish this quickly. God speaks through out hearts. God speaks through other people. But most clearly, for it requires no certification as to the source, God speaks through his written word.
I can go step by step through the scriptures, pausing at each link into what is a holy lifestyle. I can even end up imposing upon you my own legalistic trappings, for we all carry some unnecessary baggage. But I will not do that.
If you desire to take the high road,
if you seek to cooperate in the ongoing process of personal sanctification
and if you wish to do so free of hearsay, heresy and the bonds that other men would clink upon you, then begin with the following two verses:
- 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) ”Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
- Micah 6:8 (KJV) ”He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”