Truth that Matters

Sanctification: An Overview

This class provides an overview of the topic of sanctification, or our being made holy.

Read the following Scriptures several times, noting places where they discuss the idea of being made right with God. These are longer passages than usual; take your time going through them. Read all of them, then read the questions below. Reread the scriptures with the questions in mind.

Lev 20:7-8, Mat 5:17-48, Mark 12:28-34, Romans 6, 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:13, 2 Cor 5:21, 6:14-7:1, Galatians 5:13-26, Eph 4:20-5:21, Phil 2:1-16, Col 1:28-2:7, 2 Tim 2 (the whole book is relevant), Hebrews 3:7-4:16, 10:10-39, all of chapter 12, 1 Peter 1:13-2:11, 2 Peter 1:3-11

Questions: As you consider these questions, answers will come to mind from what you have thought in the past. Try to challenge your beliefs with the Scriptures you have read above, and other Scriptures that may come to mind. Ground all your answers in the word. Please provide written answers to all questions this week.

Readings: Read the following articles in order, then revise what you wrote above. Don't expect all these authors to agree with each other . . .

(Excerpt from Lloyd-Jones on Romans 6:13)

Positively and actively, we should be engaged in this mighty crusade of righteousness and of truth which is God's crusade.

Thus we have gone through the details of the commandment, the exhortation. But you notice that in doing that certain great principles have been emerging, and I must note them as I close. There are vital principles concerning the New Testament doctrine of the method of holiness and of sanctification taught in this verse. In the first place, one of the most fatal things we can ever do in connection with sanctification is to start with ourselves; and yet I suspect that if we examined ourselves, and were honest, most of us would have to admit that we have almost invariably done so. Our chief reason for being interested in holiness and sanctification is that we are having a terrible fight and battle with sin. We tend to fall constantly and to go down. What can I do about this problem of sin and evil that is in me? Where can I find relief? Is that not the way we almost invariably start with this matter? It is utterly and entirely wrong. That is not the way in which the Apostle deals with it here or anywhere else. We are subjective, and, so often, holiness teaching meets us on the grounds of our own subjectivity. Here am I thus struggling and striving, defeated and unhappy. Suddenly I look at an advertisement which says, 'Come to the clinic'. I am quoting actual words that are used. 'Come to the clinic.' What you need, we are told, is to come to the clinic, to the spiritual hospital, and here your sickness and your illness can be dealt with. But as I read the verses that we are studying I see no suggestion whatsoever of a clinic. Rather, I find a barracks; not a hospital, but a military centre. What do I need? what do I find? I do not find a doctor here. What we all need is not a doctor, but a sergeant major. Here we are, as it were slouching about the parade ground, feeling our own pulses, feeling miserable, talking about our weakness. So we say, 'I need a doctor, I need to go to the clinic, I need to see the Medical Officer'. But that is not right. What you need is to listen to the voice of the sergeant major who is there shouting out the commands of God to you -- 'Let not sin reign in your mortal body.' 'Yield not your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin.' 'Yield yourself unto God.' You have no business to be slouching about like that; stand on your feet, realize who and what you are, enlisted in the army of God. 'Present yourself.' This is not a clinic.

The main trouble with the Christian Church today is that she is too much like a clinic, too much like a hospital; that is why the great world is going to hell outside! 'We are all suffering' -- to quote Charles Lamb again -- 'with the mumps and measles of the soul' and feeling our own pulses and talking about ourselves, and our moods and subjective states. We have lost the concept of the army of God, and the King of righteousness in this fight against the kingdom of evil. 'What can I do to be delivered?' we tend to say. I answer: Look at the great campaign, look at it objectively, look at it from God's standpoint. Forget yourself and your temporary troubles and ills for the moment; fight in the army. It is not a clinic you need; you must realize that we are in a barracks, and that we are involved in a mighty campaign.

In the second place, we must go on to realize that this is a question of service. We persist in thinking of it in terms of 'my feelings' and 'my failure' or 'my success'. But Paul bids us look at it in terms of service! When you fall to that sin, the real trouble is not so much the particular thing you have done, or the badness of the thing. That is important, I agree; but there is something much worse; it is that you, for whom Christ died, have allowed sin to use a faculty that is in you. That is the way to look at it. Holiness is a matter of service, not of feelings and subjective moods and states, not a matter of experiences. We are meant to be serving the living God with the whole of our being; and no part of us is ever meant to be used, and must not be used, in the service of sin. We must not fraternize with the enemy. That is the New Testament way of teaching holiness. What most of us need is not a clinic, but to listen to the sergeant major drilling his troops, commanding them, warning them, threatening them, showing them what to do. The New Testament teaching is altogether different from the sentimentality and subjectivity that have controlled holiness and sanctification teaching for so long, and which tell us that is it is 'quite simple'. But it is not easy. 'Fight the good fight of faith' says the New Testament. Play the man. 'Quit yourselves as men'; 'Put on the whole armour of God'; 'stand in the evil day.' Those are all military commands; there is nothing of the clinic about them. We must get rid of that notion of the clinic and the hospital; and we must look at these things more in terms of God and His glory, and the great campaign which He inaugurated through the Son of His love, and which He is going to bring to a triumphant conclusion.

The thought, then, that should be supreme in our minds is that it is the King and His service that matters; and that what I must be concerned about is not so much the condition and state of my soul, as my relationship to Him, and my value to Him, and my value to His Kingdom. Let us get rid of the flabby, sentimental ideas, and this morbid interest in ourselves, and our desire simply for something to help us. Let us get rid of that approach altogether, for it is unscriptural and wrong. Let us look at the position, rather, in this manly, strong, positive manner in which the Apostle puts it here, as indeed he puts it in all his teaching concerning this matter of sanctification everywhere. It is only as we look at it in this way that we shall see the privilege of our position. Sin will then become unthinkable. We shall not allow it to reign in our mortal body, or yield any one of our faculties or members as 'instruments of unrighteousness unto sin', but, positively, we shall 'yield ourselves unto God . . . and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God'.


Lloyd-Jones excerpt copyright Banner of Truth Trust, 1998. Text other than the Lloyd-Jones excerpt is Copyright © 1999, Thomas C. Pinckney. This data file is the sole property of Thomas C. Pinckney. Please feel free to copy it, but only in its entirety for circulation freely without charge. All copies of this data file must contain the above copyright notice.

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