The process of sanctification is absolutely amazing. It is the act of the Grand Artist creating His greatest masterpiece, as he revolutionizes your life into the image of His son. Sanctification is the process of a natural man being progressively changed into a spiritual man. C.S. Lewis referred to it as sinful man being transformed into a son of God. The administrator of this pain staking process is the Holy Spirit. He is the Sanctifier. Over the next few posts, I want to break down this process. What is Sanctification? How does it work? How do I affect it? It’s imperative for the believer to understand the doctrine of Sanctification. Unfortunately, if the average Christian were asked to give a brief explanation of Sanctification, they would be clueless. We don’t disciple enough! Understanding these spiritual concepts is absolutely necessary for the day to day victory of a child of God. I pray that God will use me to make these doctrinal lessons easy to understand…and that you may begin to live them out in your day to day walk.
First – lets set the scene
We are born into this world in a state of spiritual separation from God (thanks Adam!). Even before we ever commit a sin, we are overwhelmed and controlled by a sinful nature. David said in Psalms 51:5, “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” You might say, well that’s not fair, how can we be sinful before we ever do anything wrong. Think of it this way, we are not born sinners, but we are born with a nature of rebellion that is bent toward living a sinful life. In other words, we were born with a “sin factory” within us. And it doesn’t take very long for the affect of the sin factory to be realized within us and around us. The obvious result of being born with a sin nature is that we are doomed to commit sin, to fall short of the glory of God, and to be immediately separated from God’s presence. Romans 3: 10-11 proclaims, “There is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God”. Jehovah God is completely holy, awesomely righteous, and eternally perfect. Any person less than perfect (even one sin makes this become true) cannot dwell in His presence. Unrighteousness is repelled from God's presence like the like poles of two magnets. Thus, our sinful nature disqualifies us from having relationship with God.
Until the wonderful day that we recognized that we were a creature in desperate need to be saved from ourselves, from our sin nature. What happened at this pivotal moment? We finally took our eyes off ourselves, and looked for the solution that satisfies. Paul said it this way…”Who will save me from this body of death.” At the moment he said the word, “Who”, he had, in effect, admitted that he could not overcome sin by his own abilities, and that he needed the help of another. Paul was crying out for a savior. In the same way, you recognized that you were your worst enemy, and without a savior, you would indeed be left to the self destruction you had known since conception.
You cried out to Jesus. He heard your cry, and He ran to your rescue…he SAVED you. The old song says it well…
Saved by His power divine
Saved to new life sublime
Life now is sweet, and my joy is complete
Cause I’m saved, saved, saved
Paul explains this moment of your life in powerful detail in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th chapters of the book of Romans. We say “I got saved”…Paul said “you were Justified”. Justification is the first step in the process of Sanctification. At the moment you were saved, or Justified, you were also “wholly sanctified”. This will be better explained later. First, it is imperative to understand your Justification so that you will be able to grasp the process of Sanctification. So let’s talk Justification…
JUSTIFICATION – Legally set free
Justification is both an Old and New Testament concept. The Hebrew word (Old Testament) for Justification is “sadag", and it means “righteous or righteousness”. The Greek word (New Testament) for Justification is “dikaioo”, and it’s meaning is much more picturesque than the Hebrew. “Dikaioo” is better translated, “to acquit”, “to vindicate”, or “to pronounce righteous”. To put it pure and simple, Justification is a legal term. I’m talking judge, jury, lawyers, and verdict…..legal terminology. It is based on and framed in law and order…Gods law. At the moment you said “yes” to Jesus and He said “yes” to you, a legal act took place in the court room of Heaven. Let me explain “dikaioo” another way; please try to imagine this scene in the theater of your mind…
Picture yourself standing in a courtroom. The sterile, sharp, intimidating surroundings are overwhelming. The floors, the walls, the furniture in the courtroom are hard, cold, and completely solid, as if the whole room and everything in it are carved out of a single solid block of granite. There is no visible ceiling, for the walls rise endlessly until they vanish into some glorious, dark cloud, hundreds of feet over your head. Directly ahead of you is the bench of the Great Judge. Solid, glowing white marble, gigantic, it is the Judgment Throne of the Almighty. It is so tall and powerful that you can’t see over the crest of the bench; however the omnipotent presence sitting behind the bench is filling, saturating the very air you are breathing. You can smell Him, but you couldn’t describe the scent if you tried. You can hear the pulsing electricity of His perfection. The sound is piercing, yet silently beautiful. You can somehow feel Him, but the feeling is very foreign to you, because you are a sinner. You instinctively recognize that you don’t belong this close to Holiness and you have the horrible feeling that you should turn and run before you melt away. But you can’t run, you can’t speak, you can’t even move…for today, your life was on trial.
A quick glance to your side…you have no high powered legal team to fight for you, to speak for you, to encourage you. You stand there alone and lonely. Perfectly still, afraid and vulnerable, as the all-seeing eye of Jehovah searches your heart and He sees it all. There will be no crafty defense today, no getting off on a technicality…only the truth, and nothing but the truth. A palpable since of doom clouds your mind and your feelings, you know your awaiting His ruling…there is no escape.
Finally, the silence is broken as the well spoken, ominous, sleek, and strikingly beautiful lawyer to your left begins laying out the case against you. Satan, the accuser, the master manipulator…he is the prosecuting attorney…and he has come to court today dressed and ready for battle. Beside him are boxes of evidence, stacks of eye witness depositions, file folder after file folder bulging with every dirty, rotten, disgusting sin you’ve ever committed. The things you did publically, the things you did privately, the things you forced yourself to forget about. The parade of crimes committed is seemingly endless. Every time he opens his mouth, he salivates more; he grows louder and more arrogant. Suddenly you begin to feel a radiant, righteous heat growing from behind the Judge’s bench. The larger the pile of vile evidence grows, the smaller you feel, and the more you dread ever hearing the Judge speak. Satan continues on, calling and recalling every moment of shame and guilt. The horrible acts you committed…the gracious acts you omitted. Sorrowfully, every instance is substantiated by undeniable evidence.
For days he goes on recounting your failures, marching in witnesses, and submitting more evidence. You speak no words, you dare not open you mouth. Your guts twisting under the strain of the truth, will this go on forever?
By this time, the courtroom is wilting under the colossal swell of the heated anger pouring from the throne. There is nothing you can say, nothing you can do, you are hopeless to ever escape what you have long since realized…you are guilty, guilty, guilty. Then, as you tremble through pouring sweat, and in unexpected horror, you hear the pompous prosecutor say with a smirk…”and that’s all I’ve got Your Honor, as if I needed anything else.” With that, the full focus of the Almighty shifts to the trembling wretch of a defendant. Holy light blinds your eyes, and a rumble of perfect power chills your soul as the Great Judge finally speaks, “Do you wish to speak before I pass judgment?”
Then…quiet…thump, thump, thump. You breathe a shallow breath. Tears stream down your face…thump, thump, thump. You see Satan laughing, but you can’t hear him as your mind races for what it cannot find…thump, thump, thump. You’re lightheaded under the strain. Your blood pressure is ringing in your ears…thump, thump, thump. Exhausted and broken, you collapse to the floor like a filthy rag and with a final ounce of ebbing strength you utter one, barely audible word…………….Jesus
Suddenly, in a flash of lightening, the gavel of the Judge slams down, quaking the bench, all emotion drains from Satan’s face, as God the Father proclaims, in a voice that shakes the foundations of the world…
“YOUR NOT GUILTY ANYMORE
YOUR NOT FILTHY ANYMORE
I LOVE YOU, MERCY IS YOURS
YOUR NOT BROKEN ANYMORE
YOUR NOT CAPTIVE ANYMORE
I LOVE YOU, MERCY IS YOURS
NO LONGER CONDEMNED
YOU ARE JUSTIFIED”
Praise God. Halleluiah. Amen. If you have said yes to Jesus Christ, you have been Justified in the eyes and heart of God. He has allowed the righteousness of Jesus to cover your sinfulness. He no longer sees your sin and shame. When He looks at you, He sees His Son…the perfect One…the spotless Lamb of God…your substitution…Jesus Christ.
Paul said in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been JUSTIFIED by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God
With the foundation of Justification laid, we will begin a look at Sanctification in the next installment.