Progressive sanctification vs. biblical sanctification for the believer!

There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the issue of sanctification; but it has been my experience that there are only two camps surrounding the subject. The first of course being a progressive sanctification whereby the believer is set apart incrementally by the things he or she does or does not do in regards to either pleasing or angering the Father. The second approach or belief is the past tense or finished view which I believe is the only valid conclusion in regards to our sanctification.

I think one of the biggest challenges one faces in this matter is the fact that the word sanctification has more than one definition in the bible. For instance, I Cor. 1:30, 31 states the following: ‘But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and, redemption – that, as it is written, he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ Notice in this verse the words wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption are all listed in the past tense; and are of Christ, whom the believer is in! In other words, the definition of sanctification in this passage denotes a finished work, not a progressive one.

There are other verses however, that speak of sanctification as being something other than set apart in Christ for salvation. For instance, I Cor. 7:14 states that an unbelieving spouse will be sanctified by the believing spouse; which simply means that the unbelieving person will at least superficially experience God’s presence in their believing spouse through hearing the word; thus being set apart by at least hearing truth. There are of course many more examples of the word sanctification being used in different ways; but for the believer it always designates one condition, which is salvation. The final finished work of being made alive in Christ eternally; and thus set apart to God.

Authors note:

The legalist sets himself apart in an attempt to be holy by what he does or does not do. The New Covenant believer rests in the One who has set him apart and made him holy! The former stands in his own righteousness, the latter in Christ! What does sanctification mean to you?

Commentary by:

George L. Miller



What are good works?

Ever since my wife and I left the physical church, i.e. the building, our home church, etc.; I have been studying what I consider traditional hindrances to the faith; issues such as law and grace, and what it really means to die to the law; tenaciously digging into the drastic distinction between the old and the new covenant. Taking a good look at our new identity, eternal security and the like; basically attempting to see God as He is in His pure form by allowing Him to renew my mind in regards to the traditional nonsense I had previously been taught; which in short was nothing more than works righteousness.

The following is an opening statement taken from Thomas Nelson’s commentary on the book of Titus regarding Titus himself:

“Point man, pinch-hitter, clutch-player, go-getter; these terms describe a person who can be counted on, someone who knows what to do, and how to do it, and who works tirelessly to get it done. Titus was that kind of person.”

Now at first glance this commentary seems noble and right, in other words something that we as Christians would desire to replicate; yet upon close examination it reeks of human ability, inherent pride, presenting a works-based righteousness both before God and man; unfortunately setting the stage for a like-minded interpretation of the entire book of Titus. Inadvertently defining words and terms such as good works under the same works-based light; which brings us to our point as well as the topic of this writing: What are good works? To answer this question, let’s go directly to the source, to Jesus Himself!

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:28-29.

And in John 17:3, He stated this: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

To follow up on this subject, let’s now go to the apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” – Eph. 2:8-10

Thus I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. For this reason I bow my knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:7-19

Thus He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Eph. 4:11-13

My friends, there is no greater work than that just described. For the knowledge of the fullness of Christ is to know the eternal purpose of God, which is to know His unfathomable love towards His creation; which of course includes the lost. This is the foundation and platform from which every good work is produced! It is Christ’s work both in and through us! This is the mystery of the ages! The work God Himself created in Christ Jesus beforehand that we may walk in.

Authors note:

It is my firm belief that modern Christianity has far too many point men, pinch-hitters, clutch-players and go-getters as it is. Titus did not in and of himself rise to the challenge of ministry. God Himself rose Titus to the challenge; big difference!

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7

I love you and God bless you all!

Commentary by:

George L. Miller