True Sanctification Through God’s Grace

By: Peter Youngren
From: February 2009
Found in: Sanctification
Believers desire to live fruitful and godly lives, so why do we fail? What is the solution?

“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” (1 Cor 1:30 – 31).

The teaching that we are righteous through Jesus Christ without our own merits often leads to a question, “How can we be righteous without doing righteous deeds first?” Let’s turn the question around, “How could Jesus have been made sin without committing any sinful deed?” After all, the Bible tells us that when Jesus went to the cross He was made sin. How is this possible? The answer is: it was the work of God. God took the world’s sins and put them on Jesus. We are made righteous the same way – it is the work of God. We become new creations in Christ Jesus without our own merits.

Some may think that we avoid the question of sin, but that’s not the case. On the contrary, we are teaching how true sanctification comes.

Truly Sanctified

How do we get victory over sin? How are we sanctified? Let me show from God’s Word the only power that sets us free from sin and sanctifies us – God’s grace. Some preachers like to use two words that Paul doesn’t mention: positional and experiential. Those teachers say that positionally we are sanctified in Jesus; He has become our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. But at the same time they say that we are not experientially sanctified.

Jesus has really and truly become our sanctification.

Remember, Paul is writing this to the Corinthians, and we know there were many sins and conflicts in Corinth. Yet, the Corinthians were told, as a completed fact, that Jesus Christ has become their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. He doesn’t use the words positional and experiential. He speaks about Jesus, our sanctification, as a reality. Jesus has really and truly become our sanctification. If sanctification comes through grace, no one can glory of himself, but only he who glories “let him glory in the Lord.” If we claim that we only have a position as sanctified, it becomes meaningless – because we live in the realm of experience. I’m not interested in Jesus as a mere theological position, but what Jesus Christ is in me now, in reality, that means something.

Dead to Sin

If we try to be holy through our own power and might, it will only lead into death.

We read, “…reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:11). Notice Paul says “reckon.” This is not a mere theological point of view, but something much more real. To reckon something is to really count on it. In other words, really count on the fact that you are dead to sin. He continues, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13). If we try to be holy through our own power and might, it will only lead into death. But if we practice the New Covenant, the covenant of the Spirit, it will produce life. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. We can live this new life in Christ only if we allow the Holy Spirit to be our Helper.

When you stand before a confusing situation, be still and confess Jesus Christ is your wisdom. It doesn’t take a long time. You don’t have to pray for an hour to “have a breakthrough” or to get “wisdom anointing.”

When you are tempted to sin, be still and confess Jesus Christ is your righteousness.

Jesus Christ is your wisdom right there on the spot. You will be amazed how His wisdom will manifest in you. You will discover that by appealing to Him the answer will come very quickly even to very difficult situations.

When you are tempted to sin, be still and confess Jesus Christ is your righteousness. You don’t have to fight. When you take a few moments confessing that He is your righteousness, you will notice how His life manifests in you.

The victory is not won by saying “NO” to sin, but by saying “YES” to Jesus. The more we say “no” to sin, the more we will be aware of sin. The more we say “yes” to Jesus, the more we will be aware of Jesus, and that’s when sin loses its grip.

The victory is not won by saying “NO” to sin, but by saying “YES” to Jesus.

 

Our sanctification rests on Jesus Christ, and what He has done. It doesn’t depend on you - it depends on Him. Look at His finished work.

If you have low self-esteem and you feel unworthy, be still and confess Jesus is your redemption. You will experience how His life, strength and joy manifest in you.

“Man-made” methods

There are “man-made” methods, even in the charismatic world, of sanctification. One pastor said, “If you have a habitual sin, you have a demon.” That is not what the New Testament teaches. We read of a person, who did what he didn’t want to do (Romans chapter 7), but the chapter doesn’t mention one single demon. Instead, this person describes a person who is trying to fulfill God’s commandments in his own strength. The more he tried to fulfill the Law in his own strength, the worse the situation became. The only solution to this “wretched” person was God’s abundant grace. The more we see Jesus Christ revealed in us, the more victory manifests in our life.

The spiritual armor in Ephesians chapter 6 deals with God’s grace. The helmet talks about salvation – we are saved by grace. The breastplate points to righteousness – Jesus is our righteousness. The belt is the truth – Jesus said, “I’m the truth.” The sword speaks about the Spirit – we live in the covenant of the Spirit, not of the letter. The shoes symbolize the Gospel of peace – the peace that Jesus’ blood has purchased for us.

I saw a book titled Christian – Set Yourself Free. Have you ever heard anything so absurd? Is this our covenant? Should we set ourselves free? Many will try, but when they try to make themselves holy and free, they never become really free. They may feel like they are free for a short period of time, and then they are seeking freedom again.

It’s popular to use the phrase “JUST SAY NO.” This teaching emphasizes that our own willpower can make us holy. When our will wrestles with sin, our willpower will always lose. If our own willpower could produce sanctification, Jesus’ death and resurrection was in vain.

Our Part

Many will ask, “What should we do? Surely we have to do something?” Yes, it is important we understand our part. We believe and receive what Jesus has already prepared for us, and allow Him to work in us. This is so radical, that I’ll give you a few Bible verses to back it up.

“May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess 5:23 – 24).

Who sanctifies you completely? – “The God of peace.”

Who is faithful? – “He who calls you.”

Sanctification is not based on our efforts, but it’s God’s work in us.

Sanctification is not based on our efforts, but it’s God’s work in us.

“May the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Heb 13:20 – 21). 

Who makes us complete in every good work to do His will? – “The God of peace.”

Who makes us to do what is pleasing in God’s sight? – “The great Shepherd.”

How does He sanctify us? – “Through the blood of the everlasting covenant.”

What should we do? – Give Him “glory forever and ever.”

So it all depends on Jesus. He is our righteousness, redemption, sanctification and wisdom.

So it all depends on Jesus. He is our righteousness, redemption, sanctification and wisdom.

The works of God were sometimes frightening in the Old Testament. Do you remember when God thundered in the mountain of Sinai? They were all in a state of panic, including Moses. Sinai was a demonstration of God’s holiness and it scared the people. The holiness and sanctification that manifests through Jesus is not frightening – it is attractive.

When Moses came down from the mountain of Sinai, people ran away because of fear. When Jesus came down from the mountain of transfiguration we read: “When they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him” (Mark 9:15).
The glory of the Old Testament was frightening, but the glory of the New Testament is attractive.

Don’t be discouraged if a person isn’t transformed overnight. God didn’t send Jesus to change people’s behavior, but to give us a new heart. As soon as the heart changes, the behavior will change as well.

Paul writes, “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thess 2:16 – 17).

Who is going to establish us in every good work? – The “Lord Jesus Christ Himself.” When we try to become holy through our own efforts, it leads into restlessness and troubles. God’s way gives us positive results – “everlasting consolation and good hope” through God’s “grace.”

Give Him Glory

The key is to say “YES” to righteousness, faith, love and peace.

How do we avoid lusts and ungodly behavior? Paul writes, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim 2:22). Many read only the first four words: “Flee also youthful lusts.” If we stop there, we will fail. The key is to say “YES” to righteousness, faith, love and peace.

If a baby cries, it doesn’t help if we say, “stop crying.” Instead, we try to direct the baby’s attention elsewhere by singing or shaking a key ring. Suddenly the baby forgets why he was crying in the first place! The way to the victory over sin is by not trying to conquer sin through our own strength, but “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Tim 6:11). We will focus on Jesus’ righteousness, godliness, faith and love in us.

“The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” (2 Tim 4:18)

Who delivers me from evil? – “The Lord.” Who preserves me? – “The Lord.”

What do we do? – “We give Him glory forever and ever.”

Who is able to keep you from stumbling? Who is able to present you faultless? – “God our Savior.”

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude, v. 24 – 25).
 
Who is able to keep you from stumbling? Who is able to present you faultless? – “God our Savior.”
 
What is our part? – “Give Him glory, majesty, dominion and power, now and forever.”
 
Sanctification is not what we can do, but what Jesus does in us. Our job is simply to believe and entrust ourselves to Him. We can live a holy life, but not in our own strength. True sanctification is Jesus’ life in us.

JESUS’ LIFE WORKS!

By: Peter Youngren

As founder of World Impact Ministries, Celebration Bible College, Way of Peace and the Celebration Churches in Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara, Canada, Peter is committed to equipping believers to fulfill their purpose before the return of Jesus Christ.

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