Thu, Sep 29, 2005
28 - Overview of Sanctification - Part 1 [b]
Hebrews 2:10-11 by Robert Dean
Series: Hebrews (2005)

Hebrews Lesson 28  September 29, 2005

 

NKJ Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."

 

Now the subject in Hebrews 2 beginning in verse 10 down to the end of the chapter is on the doctrine of sanctification. The passage is often misunderstood by numerous people to refer to salvation. In one sense that is true if you properly understand how the author is using the word "salvation". We looked at Hebrews 2:10.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

 

He is the pioneer of our salvation. But is that phase 1 salvation that we talk about, justification salvation – the point at which the individual comes to understand that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world including every one of our sins and by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone we have salvation? The word is often used that way. As I frequently point out in American religious patois we often think of salvation as only referring to justification salvation. We are used to the evangelist saying, "Are you saved brother?" We think of it only in that restricted sense. It really puts blinders on people because the word group based on the verb sozo in the New Testament is not restricted to simply that initial stage where a person moves from death into life. It often refers to the entire process from justification to spiritual growth to glorification. In some places it has that ultimate phase 3 glorification concept in mind. That is what we have seen in this book. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

 

When soteria the word salvation is connected with inheritance, we know that it has a future in mind. It looks forward to our time in heaven when we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord. Thus in that immediate context there is an application in the question that is pretty well known out of 2:3. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,

 

Often that is used to apply to phase 1 but in light of word usage in the context; it also is referring to our inheritance salvation, the completion of the spiritual growth process, phase 3 glorification. In light of those first two uses of the word soteria when it refers to the making the pioneer of our soteria mature, it is talking about the fact that he is the pioneer of our entire spiritual life and the one who completes the process the Lord Jesus Christ. In His completion He pioneers and sets the precedent for us in the Christian life. That is the subject. 

 

I want you to think with me a little bit as we get an overview of verses 10 down through verse 18. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

 

What is that talking about?  "Bringing many sons to glory." That is not talking about phase 1 salvation. That is talking about ending up in heaven, in glory. So it is talking about that whole process with the focus on the end product. 

 

The first verse in this paragraph and the paragraph begins in verse 10 and proceeds through verse 18.  Verse 11 opens up the real subject of this section.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,

 

The focus is on the process of sanctification, the spiritual life in phase 2. Verse 11 gives us the doctrinal focus of this paragraph. It is on the doctrine of the Christian life called sanctification. Then there are quotes from the Old Testament. There are two quotes. There is a quote in verse 12 from Psalm 22:22 and there are two quotes in verse 13 from Isaiah 8:18-19. Those quotes come into substantiate the point that is being made in verses 10-11. 

 

Then in verse 14 the writer comes back.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

 

It talks about the importance, the reason why, the eternal second person of the trinity had to become incarnate and take on or add humanity to His eternal deity. The rationale here emphasizes why the eternal second person of the trinity had to become true humanity. 

 

15 and might release those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

 

Release has to do with redemption. 

 

He focuses on the fact that Christ's work was directed to the human race, not to angels.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

 

Therefore indicates a conclusion. 

 

Again we have the rationale for the hypostatic union. 

 

The high priest ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ relates to what aspect of your life?  Phase 1 justification, phase 2 experiential salvation or spiritual growth, or phase three glorification? It relates to phase 2 sanctification, the spiritual life. So you see verses 10-11 focus on the spiritual life and they drive us in the direction of the conclusion in verses 17-18 that He had to be made like us so that He could be a faithful high priest in all things pertaining to God to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Now that is the work on the cross. That is the foundation for all of His work. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

 

What is the testing process? Phase 1? Phase 2? Phase 3?  Phase 2. So what we see here throughout this section is that verses 10-18 are driving on the principle of why Jesus Christ did what He did for the purpose of accomplishing something today in His high priestly ministry in relationship to maturing you as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ so that He can bring you to glory. That is what this passage is talking about. The whole point is not just about what Christ did on the cross in terms of phase 1 justification, but how that fits into where He is taking us in the future. So now that you understand the overall framework we have to go back and talk about this important doctrine of sanctification.

 

I started an introduction two weeks ago. We went through our introduction to sanctification. I spent some time in the set up talking about the historical perspective in terms of the fact that every theological system or denomination has their own approach to sanctification. I pointed out that there are basically only two schools. There is the replacement theology camp which is every body – Roman Catholics, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and everybody except for dispensationalists. Dispensationalists hold to a consistent distinction between Israel and the church so the spiritual life as it flows out from that understanding. The spiritual life is distinct for the Church Age believer. Its precedent is not in the Mosaic Law. The precedent is in the spiritual life of Jesus Christ as our pioneer during the First Advent. We don't look back to the Mosaic Law and say, "The reasons that Christians are failures today is because we aren't applying the law." I went through the passages in Galatians last time and this is what the Galatian problem was. It is amazing how many people don't understand this today. Paul in the first two chapters of Galatians focused on the gospel error that had infected the Galatian congregation because they listened to the Judaizers. 

 

NKJ Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

 

They said it was okay to believe in salvation by grace. "It was a fine message that Paul gave. He was an erudite scholar. He knows the law, but he left something out. You had to become circumcised if you want to experience all of the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. You didn't get it all at salvation. You need a post salvation shot or infusion of spirituality." 

 

That is a two-step approach to the Christian life which is like the charismatics have today. "They didn't get it all at the cross brother. You need full sanctification after you are saved." That is what the charismatics teach. Other groups came along and said that now that you are saved you need to go back to the law and become moral. Apply the law so that you can grow. It is the same thing that was going on in Galatia. Paul confronts them with their error in 3:3.

 

NKJ Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

 

At salvation you were saved by the means of the Holy Spirit who regenerates and washes. Titus 3:5. Are you now in your post salvation life being made perfect? That is the Greek verb teleioo. Are you being brought to maturity by means of the flesh? The flesh is also a term for the sin nature. In terms of your unaided human ability, are you trying to reach spiritual maturity through the works of the law? Having said that in 3:3 I pointed out that there were three key words in that verse - Spirit, teleioo (being made complete or perfect), and flesh. We don't see those three words show up again in the same verse until Galatians 5:16. Everything that Paul said from Galatians 3:3-5:16 is to build his doctrinal case. He goes back to the Old Testament, talks about the Abrahamic Covenant, and he builds his case point by point so that he can finally come to his application in 5:16 that we are to walk by means of the Spirit.

 

I finished up last time talking about how frustrated I get sometimes with these English translations. They take key words and don't translate them the same way every time they are used. Sometimes you can't and sometimes you shouldn't. But in a passage like this you must because it picks up those threads of Paul's thought that he is tying together when he gets to Galatians 5:16. Galatians 5:16 is the benchmark passage for the unique role of God the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church Age believer.

 

NKJ Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

 

Ou me (a double negative in the Greek) plus the aorist active subjunctive verb in the Greek indicates the impossibility of bringing to completion the lusts of the flesh. After that he sets up the whole warfare between the flesh versus the spirit. It is one or the other. This is the verse folks. This is the verse that tells you that walking by the Spirit is mutually exclusive to walking by in the flesh. You can't do something with mixed motives and partially go with the Spirit and be partially sinful. It is one or the other. That ou me plus the subjunctive mood verb nails that according to the grammar of the passage. This sets up that distinction. 

 

This comes out in the history of our understanding the Scripture, specifically sanctification within dispensationalism as a distinctive in dispensational thought. It is over the development of the doctrine of the Church Age. By the late 18th century and early 19th century theologians began to realize that there was a distinction between God's plan for Israel and the church. I pointed out that this has come to us in terms of our heritage through people like John Nelson Darby (who was fuzzy in places on this but he is pointed in the right direction), C I Scofield who was the editor of the Scofield Reference Bible, and his student Louis Sperry Chafer. That is how it has been developed. 

 

I was doing some reading this last week and I ran across a little book that I think Jim Myers picked up for me at a used book store a couple of years ago up in Michigan called "Plain Papers on the Holy Spirit" by C I Scofield. Not everything in here is as tight as we would like it to be. That is okay. We were gradually coming to an understanding of things. As I read through this I was interested to see how clear he was on some things and how he lays his arrangement out very much the way that Dr. Chafer laid it out. Chafer developed it a little more and systematized it a little more. Then you read Dr. Walvoord and his article on the "Augustinian Dispensational View of Sanctification". You see how as time went by each man got a little more focused on his understanding of these things. In his last chapter in his book Scofield titled it "The Filling with the Holy Ghost". Remember that good old King James terminology? The filling of the Holy Ghost is indispensable. At the beginning he states.

 

"Much of the speaking about the filling of the Holy Spirit implies that such filling is desirable indeed but not indispensable. It is treated as one of the spiritual luxuries of the Christian life." 

 

That is true even today. 

 

"A minister said to the writer, 'I am going to look into that subject this one of these days.' He seemed utterly oblivious to the sorrowful fact that as long as he was not filled with the spirit no act of his service could be with power and that because of that lack his very sermon might work injury to his hearers."

 

He has a couple of points that he develops. The first point that he emphasizes is that no Christian should be willing to perform the slightest act in the service of Christ until he is definitely filled with the Holy Spirit. Then he writes on that for 3 or 4 pages. In his second point he says that no Christian can possibly live a right Christian life who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Then he develops a few things on that. 

 

In his concluding remarks he states.

 

"One final but in the light of what is said and written necessary word to the ground of Christian assurance of the filling. Much is said most harmfully as the writer believes concerning consciousness. That is consciousness of the filling of the Holy Spirit. The harm done by that word lies in identifying it with feeling." 

 

You see you thought emotions just cropped up in recent decades. He goes after those who want to identify the filling of the Spirit on the basis of emotion. 

 

"It seems to be supposed that the Christian who definitely and continuously feels and yields himself and his members and has really been filled with the Spirit will know it by feeling holy or powerful." 

 

Of course he goes on to show why that is not correct. 

 

I thought that you would be interested in light of my comments the last time to hear a voice from our historical past to give us a little insight as to how these things have been handled. Our understanding of the spiritual life didn't just pop up in the last 50 years. It was held by Chafer, held by Scofield, and held by others.

 

Several years ago I got into a discussion with someone whose name I won't mention, a pastor who should know better and said that the whole concept of confession of sin and the filling of the Holy Spirit was developed within the last 50 years. I had just been given a book by Arno C. Gaebelein who was a well known dispensationalist in the part of the 20th century and a contemporary of Chafer's back in the teens and the 20's on the Holy Spirit in the epistles. Under Ephesians 5:18 he wrote that the filling of the Holy Spirit could be lost when you sinned and then recovered when you confessed sin. Unless the believer was living his life in the filling of the Holy Spirit then all of his works were wood, hay and straw. This book was the written in 1918. So I quoted the whole page to this particular pastor and I said, "I am so sick and tired of you and your two or three friends who keep trying to say that this teaching is relatively new. Your own historical ignorance is showing through. Quit trying to invent theology and get back to what the Bible says." This is a problem today. People are theologically and historically ignorant. This was from a man who had even gone to seminary. But these things are not always understood by seminary professors today and they are not taught well. So it is a constant battle to protect the truth.

 

So we look at our passage here. It is talking about the role of Christ as our pioneer in our sanctification. That pioneer work that he performed was laid out during the First Advent so that it would prepare Him to be able to function as our high priest because He has gone through every category of testing that we go through to prepare Him for that. All of this is integrated together. 

 

Now what I want to do is go back and give a little survey of sanctification before we get into a detailed exegesis of the passage. We will look at a couple of details I want to highlight in verses 10-11 first.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

 

The word translated in the New King James as captain and in some places the author of our salvation is the Greek word archegos from the Greek arche meaning to rule and the verb ago meaning to lead. When you join these two words together it came to mean someone who is an originator, a founder, a leader, a chief, the chief person, the first person. Perhaps the best understanding for us is this idea that He is our pioneer in that He sets the standard, the precedent. He is the one who blazes the trail. You could also translate it He is our trailblazer. He laid the track for the spiritual life that we have today.

 

The same verbiage is used over in Hebrews 12:2, a verse that is familiar to all of us.

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

The word translated "finisher" is a form of the verb teleioo. See how these things fit together. It is so important. It is like those old songs that we used to see on the cartoons when we were little kids. You would follow the bouncing ball. The bouncing ball hits on that word teleioo.  It's important. It's not perfect. This is how the translators of the King James translated it and set a precedent for all subsequent translations. They translated it perfect. It has to do with mature or complete. He is the pioneer and the completer of our doctrine. This was part of His role in the First Advent.

 

Now we are told in verse 10 that He was made mature through suffering. Now sometimes folks have a funny idea of what suffering is. They get a subjective tone to it. The word here pathema really has the idea of adversity. You are going through some external set of negative circumstances or circumstances that test the metal of your soul, your spiritual life. So I prefer to translate this …

 

Corrected translation:  In bringing many sons to glory to make the pioneer of their salvation mature through adversity.

 

So Jesus in hypostatic union as true humanity, sinless humanity, had to go through a process where He went through category after category of adversity in order to blaze the trail on spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. That's the point of verse 10. 

 

That is why we have to understand that participle there. "Bringing" is an anarthrous adverbial participle. It should be translated "in order to bring many sons to glory". This explains the purpose of His non-soteriological suffering in the First Advent. By that I mean the suffering He went through living in a fallen world with a bunch of rotten sinners around Him and going through the adversity of a fallen world. I am not talking about the suffering that He went through on the cross related to paying the penalty for our sins. We are talking about the adversity He went through as part of His spiritual life during the First Advent. The reason I bring that out (It doesn't matter to most of you here.) is that in some theological circles all the adversity that Jesus went through is soteriological, not just what went on at the cross. That is just plain false. It is only what went on at the cross that has soteriological effect. The adversity that He faced in His ongoing day to day spiritual life is related to His pioneering work of our spiritual life. 

 

This is indicated in I Peter 4:13.

 

NKJ 1 Peter 4:13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

 

When we go through the adversity in the same way He did and we handle it with the problem solving devices and doctrine, then we advance in our spiritual life and mature just as He did.

 

Notice how all of this drives us to a future point in terms of the return of Christ and future glory. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,

 

He who sanctifies is Jesus Christ. We all partake of the same flesh. We are both human. In His true humanity He had to go through the sanctifying process. Isn't that interesting? We tend to think of sanctification in relationship to sin. But in the spiritual life of our Lord there was no sin. But He had to be sanctified. Adam still had to be sanctified because Adam, even though he was sinless before the fall, still had to go through the sanctification process.

 

So let's start putting all of this together – a little overview of sanctification.

 

  1. Sanctification is a term for the spiritual life or spiritual growth of the believer. That is how we are using it. We would call it experiential sanctification. Actually sanctification is used of all three stages of the Christian life – phase one positional sanctification, phase two experiential sanctification, and phase three glorification sanctification or ultimate sanctification. In most terminology when you pick up a book on sanctification it is focusing on that middle term, phase 2, spiritual growth or experiential sanctification. People sit around and they say they understand that. But they really don't. At least you have heard the term. That is amazing today. I keep bringing little tales to you of my class on Thursday morning. I am teaching at the College of Biblical Studies. This morning we were in the second half of Genesis and as we began our lecture and I got to Genesis 15:6 talking about Abraham being justified by faith, I asked the class how many were familiar with the term justification by faith. There were no hands. I asked how many of them had heard the term imputation. No hands. So I decided to have a preacher's moment and encouraged them that if they were going to a church and their pastor had never talked about justification by faith, how did they know they were saved? Justification by faith is the foundation doctrine of salvation. If they didn't understand imputation then they couldn't understand anything related to blessing or anything else. That gave them something to think about. I challenged them that they needed to go to a church where somebody taught the Word a little bit. They had never heard this. Each week I am bringing you these stories about how they never hear any what I consider to be basic Biblical terminology. If you are using the Living Bible, if you are using The Message or the Cotton Patch Gospel or one of these other modern paraphrases or translations; then you will never find any of these words. You become a very ignorant baby believer. Sanctification is a time honored term used in the Scripture for the believer's spiritual position. 
  2. So to understand it we have to look at the basic original language terms. The Hebrew root verb (In each of these you have a root verb and then noun forms and adjectival forms, but you have to go to the verb to get the root idea.) is qadash. The basic dictionary Hebrew lexicon definition is to be hallowed (an antiquated word in the English that doesn't mean much), holy (again an antiquated word that has little meaning today), sanctified (we get a little bit more into the sense of the word), to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, or to dedicate. I want you to think about that in terms of the English words for a minute. The word "holy", what does that conjure up in your head? What is a major nuance to the word that you think of? Most of us think of morally correct or morally pure. Being morally pure is a different idea from being dedicated or consecrated.  I want you to understand that the idea of moral purity is merely a secondary or tertiary nuance. It is not the core semantic meaning of the word. It is not the main idea that the word has. In fact there is a feminine noun and a masculine form of qadash that refers to the male and female prostitutes in the fertility worship of the Baals and the asherim. What do you think about that? Were they morally pure? They are temple prostitutes. There is nothing morally pure about them. What they are is dedicated to the service of their god. They are set apart for the service of their god. That is the core meaning for qadash. Before you can talk about the New Testament word group based on hagios you have to realize that hagios and hagiosune and the other forms the word that you find in the New Testament aren't based on Greek usage. I don't care what Classical Greek said or what Koine Greek usage was because the writers of the New Testament are coming at that word from a Jewish Hebrew Old Testament background. So it doesn't matter how it was used in 5th century BC Athens. It doesn't matter how it was used in Attic Greek or Beocean Greek or any of those other languages because they're using it on the basis of the Hebrew background.  So that is why you have to spend time understanding this word. This is why when I was a student at Dallas Seminary majoring in Hebrew when we got into second year Hebrew and had our very first word study assignment; the first word they assigned was qadash so it would stick with you so you would understand these things. The basic meaning of qadash is to be set apart for the service of God. Now one of the first places that this is used in the Old Testament is in Exodus 3:5. God is speaking to Moses. Moses is going to the burning bush. 

 

NKJ Exodus 3:5 Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."

 

Now let's do a little word substitution. "Take your sandals off your feet for the place you stand is morally pure ground." Does that make sense? No. Ground can't be morally pure. Then you get over later on to Exodus and you get into the consecration of the temple furniture – the bowls and the tables and everything else. Bowls and tables and curtains can't be morally impure. They can't be morally impure. They are morally neutral. This is to give you a better way of understanding and explaining the fact that holiness has to do with being dedicated to the service of God - an area, a land a vessel, a person who is identified as being primarily for the use of God. That is the root idea in the Hebrew.  Exodus 12:16 is another use of the word "holy" related to the holy calling out or the assembly of the people. They are called out for the purpose of serving God. It doesn't have to do with morally pure. That is a secondary idea that gets added on in certain context. Now you get into the New Testament. In the New Testament word group is based on the noun hagios. The verb form is hagiazo. This verb is used 28 times in the New Testament. It sometimes describes things.  It is the same idea - the things that are set aside for ritual purposes for the service of God.  So it has that idea of consecration. That is what consecration means. It means to be set apart to the service of God. The main idea is to be set apart to the service of God. 

Another Greek form of the word is the noun hagiosmos. Hagiosmos is used ten times in the New Testament. It is used for the quality of being set apart, holiness, sanctification. It is used for the process.  It is used for the position. It is used for the result, which is the state of being set apart to God. In fact the Semantic Dictionary which I usually don't recommend nails the definition. " To dedicate to the service of and to loyalty to deity." That's it. It's not being morally pure. It is being set apart to the service of God. Hagiosune.  The sune ending indicates quality or attribute.  Thus it refers to someone who possesses the attribute of holiness or being set apart for the service of God.  Romans 1:4 shows that this state is in contrast to a life based on the flesh. That gives us an understanding of what you are talking about. When you are talking about sanctification you are talking about being set apart to the service of God.  This is a very positive concept. Notice that it is not talking about getting rid of sin in your life – not that you can go sin with impunity. This is not licentiousness. The focus is rather positive, not negative. It is not going around and saying you have to stop this or stop that and don't do this. The focus is rather positive. It is being set apart for the service of God. 

  1. Sanctification in terms of phase 2 is experiential sanctification or the Christian life. It is about learning to serve God. We could expand that to say based on the fact of being positionally sanctified at salvation we are positionally set apart to serve God at the instant of salvation. So the Christian life then is learning to unpack all of the wonderful spiritual life assets and blessings that God gave us at salvation so that we can learn to serve Him more and more consistently as we grow and mature in our understanding of the Word. So sanctification is about learning to serve God. 
  2. Going back to something I mentioned earlier, that is that neither Adam in the garden or Jesus Christ in hypostatic union were sinners and yet they still had to learn to be set apart to God. They had to learn to serve God. When Jesus summarized the Mosaic Law He said that you need to learn to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. That is what it means to serve God. To put Him first. To obey Him is how you know that you love God. "If you love Me you will keep My commandments." That is said 7 or 8 times in Deuteronomy. Jesus picks up on that same theme in the New Testament. He says, "If you love me you will keep my commandments." It is repeated in I John. How do you know if you love the Lord? You keep His commandments. So it is talking about serving God in our Christian life and Christian growth. That is what sanctification is all about. Now because Adam had to learn this in the garden when he didn't have to worry about that nasty old sin nature, and Jesus had to learn how to serve God and love God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength in His humanity, we understand a dimension of sanctification that is positive and is not necessarily related to dealing with the sin nature. Our problem is that we are so affected in every area of our being by that nasty old sin nature that we have a hard time understanding this apart from the struggle with sin. But the focus is more positive than it is negative. So sanctification primarily looks at serving God with a whole heart and only secondarily in terms of dealing with the sin nature.
  3. Sanctification is primarily a positive process. The Scripture looks at it from that positive vantage point of learning to serve God, not a negative process of stamping out the sin in your life. The reason it looks that way is that the more focused we get focused on who God is, and the more you get focused on where you are headed, the more that the sin that easily besets us falls by the wayside. That is what Hebrews 12 is going to say. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

 

If you are looking unto Jesus, if your focus is on the Lord and if you are occupied with Christ then our attention is on where we are going and not on the sin that encumbers us. So the result is that rather than going around like the legalists do and try to put out all the sin fires in our lives we focus on spiritual growth and spiritual advance. Over time what you discover is that the sins that easily beset us begin to be less and less issues if you walk by means of the Spirit. Romans 6 is a classic core passage in understanding the spiritual life - actually Romans 6-8 which is why I did a basic study on the spiritual life just looking at these three chapters in Romans. Romans 6 starts off talking about the fact that we are all baptized into Christ Jesus. We are identified in Christ. We are identified into His death so that we should walk in newness of life. The foundation for understanding the spiritual life is that baptism by means of God the Holy Spirit. It identifies us with Christ. That is positional truth. That is the term that we use. We are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. That has a consequence. The consequence is that we will walk in the newness of life. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the foundation for positional sanctification. The result of that Paul says in verse 6 is that our old man, the sin nature, is crucified with Him that is the body of sin (That is our sinful activities) might be done away with in the course of spiritual growth. "That we should no longer be slaves to sin." In verse 7 he says that he who died has been freed from sin.  That is, freed from enslavement to the sin nature. Therefore we are not to continue to live in sin because we know. Then we get down to verse 11. 

 

NKJ Romans 6:11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The focus is on what we have in Christ. Then in the development of his thought starting in verse 15, he emphasizes the fact that we have been freed from sin. We are now slaves to righteousness. What is another term for slave? Being a servant. Sanctification is learning to serve God with your whole heart. So it is learning what Christ did for us at the cross and applying those principles to our day to day life and to day to day adversity so that in the same way that He applied doctrine to His adversity we apply doctrine to our adversity. In the process we are matured and brought to completion. So that the goal – there is a goal in the process – is identified in Hebrews 2:10 as bringing many sons to glory. We are saved for a purpose.  Ephesians 2:10 We often talk about Ephesians 2:8-9 and we stop there.

 

NKJ Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

 

But verse 10 continues.

 

NKJ Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

 

It doesn't stop with getting eternal life. Eternal life and our new life in Christ is only the starting point and the starting point is to prepare us to enter glory. That comes only by following the Lord Jesus Christ in His pioneering work, His precedent setting work in the spiritual life. So we are headed somewhere. 

  1. To accomplish the overall plan, God the Father had to mature the pioneer of our salvation through adversity. So there is a role to adversity which is necessary to give us those tests to see if we are going to serve God or ourselves. Are we going to apply Scripture or not? Are we going to apply doctrine or not? It is not to see if we are going to sin or not. It is to see if we will trust God or not. It is to focus on the positive side, not the negative. So the Father had to mature our Lord through adversity. Now if the Lord who was sinless had to be matured through adversity, why do you think you are going to get away from it? How do you think you are going to get out from under this adversity thing? Do you think life is going to be smooth? There is going to be adversity with people. There is going to be adversity at work. There is going to be adversity at home. There is going to be adversity living in the world system, financially. There are going to be weather disasters which we have been witnessing a lot of lately. There are going to be many other problems. It is just one problem after another it seems. Sometimes it just seems they pile up one on top of the other. They are all designed by God to bring us to maturity. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

 

He learned obedience. So even in a sinless state in His humanity our Lord Jesus Christ had to advance.  There is something about the way that God made us as human beings as finite creatures that we have to learn to be obedient. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 5:9 And having been perfected [matured], He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

 

What word do you think that is in the Greek? Teleioo. You are going to get sick of that word. 

 

  1. In our humanity, testing and adversity is necessary to develop and demonstrate service to God.  It is part of our testimony in the angelic conflict. It is part of the way God made things. We just have to learn to love the battle as my friend Jim Myers frequently reminds me. We have to learn to love the battle.  It doesn't say we love the battle. You have to learn to love the battle. That is the growth process. It is a constant battle. Not only do we have to battle with living in a fallen world, we have an old sin nature to deal with. 
  2. Now here are the three stages of salvation that we talked about. Phase one is justification. Phase 2 has to do with the spiritual life.  Phase 3 is glorification. Phase 1 is being freed from the penalty of sin. That is we are spiritually dead so we become spiritually alive at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone. In phase 2 we are learning to live freed from the power of sin. Then in glorification we are freed from the presence of sin.  Phase one is described as positional sanctification. By virtue of our position in Christ we have everything we need to handle whatever the adversity is. Everything you need! God didn't leave something out. In His omniscience He knew every single thing that you would go through – every test and every problem that everyone would go through. So He gave us everything in the Word.

 

NKJ 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

 

Now that ability is connected to the end clause in the verse. "That you may be able to endure it." That is the last clause in the verse. Not to escape it in the sense of avoiding it, but so that you can endure in the midst of the trial. Positional sanctification emphasizes what we have in Christ. Progressive sanctification emphasizes its application in time as we grow. We learn to serve God. We learn to live a life that is set apart to His service. And then ultimate sanctification is when we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord and we have been brought to glory. There is a future destiny there. He is not ashamed to call us brethren. That is what verses 12 and 13 deal with. 

 

So I Corinthians 6:11 is a verse that talks about this positional aspect of sanctification. 

 

NKJ 1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

 

This is the aorist passive second person plural. Remember second person plural? All of y'all were sanctified. Every one of them!

 

Now in the last phrase he ties the sanctification that he talks about to justification. So there is positional sanctification that takes place at the instant of our justification. He uses it in a similar way in Heb 10:10. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 

Salvation at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone there is a positional setting apart to the service of God. It is a perfect passive participle there. We have been sanctified emphasizing an act that is completed in the past with results that go on in the present.

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

 

This is the process of the Christian life. 

 

(See spiritual growth chart)

 

There is a spiritual growth process. We go from spiritual adulthood to spiritual maturity. When we are spiritual babes we spend a maximum amount of time in carnality and a small amount of time growing spiritually. As we advance we spend more time in fellowship applying the Word and less time in carnality until we reach spiritual maturity and spend more time in the filling of the Holy Spirit and walking by the Spirit and less time in carnality. The way we go through that is through testing, learning to apply the Word. This is what the writer of Hebrews says.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

 

We are not out there on our own.

 

NKJ Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

 

So He is the pioneer of our testing. 

 

Now this gives us an overview of the spiritual life or the doctrine of sanctification. It is crucial. The key elements are the Word of God plus the Spirit of God.  It is not just a matter of pulling yourself up by your own moral boot straps. It is a matter of learning to walk by means of the Spirit.  We walk by means of the Spirit by studying the Word, being in fellowship with God, and in partnership with the Holy Spirit where He is teaching us the Word and producing growth within us. It is not an easy process. It is not a one shot process. It is a process that we go through the length of our lives. So that when we are finally taken to be with the Lord absent from the body, face to face with the Lord we will hear Him say those desired words, "Well done good and faithful servant." It is about being set apart to the service of God.