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



The fear factor!

The proverbs state that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and I would agree. However, I believe it is only the beginning; that Christ Himself is the end. Despite what unregenerate man says in his heart, he is in fact born with the knowledge of God. In other words, man instinctually knows that there is a righteous, just, and holy God; and that He is separate from Him. Man can either suppress this truth with the lie or except it as at least a possibility. Should the latter be the case, hence the fear of the Lord and the beginning of wisdom.

My beloved, if you are already in Him, I pray that you move past the beginning; for to fear the Lord is only the beginning; because for the believer, Christ Himself has become both the wisdom of God, as well as the end. And with that said, let us move beyond the fear factor, and on into His glorious rest.

Authors note:

Fear may produce a desire for love by exploiting our weaknesses, but fear in and of itself cannot actually produce love. This principle may be found in the proclamation of the law; for though it may show us how recklessly, loveless and sinful we are; the law in and of itself can neither cleanse us, nor love us in return. I can assure you that God knew long before man was even conceived that fear would not produce His desired effect. After all, God is pretty smart you know! My friends, God does not want us to fear Him! He wants us to know how much He loves us; that we may love Him in return.

Lord Jesus, lover of our souls, may we cling to you for life; and may we experience your love for us firsthand; that we may love You in return! Thereby shining the light of Your love on this lost and dying world.

Scripture references:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. ~ Proverbs 9:10

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. ~ Romans 1: 18-21

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:16-19

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. ~ Hebrews 10: 1-2

So let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. ~ Hebrews 10:22-23

Commentary by:

George L. Miller