Summary: Last week we talked about three views of the atonement of Jesus. Today we’re going to continue forward and talk about the concept of sanctification.
Last week we talked about three views of the atonement of Jesus. Today we’re going to continue forward and talk about the concept of sanctification. That’s a big theological word, but in general sanctification is defined as the process by which a believer in Jesus is conformed to the image of Christ. In other words, sanctification is the process by which we are made slowly over our lives more and more holy, pure, and like Jesus our savior.
Salvation happens for us at the moment that we believe in jesus Christ as our savior. At that moment we are born again, we receive the holy spirit who lives in us, and we begin a new life as a follower of Jesus. That is the moment of salvation.
But now that we’ve become Christians, we live the rest of our lives following Jesus, and slowly growing to be more and more like Jesus. That is the lifelong process of sanctification. It’s also referred to as growth in holiness, growth in purity, and growth in maturity. The scriptures make consistent reference to the process of sanctification is these various ways, another way it’s referred to is as putting to death the sins of the flesh, and living by the Spirit in us.
Are you taking notes? I hope so. We’re going a bit deeper today. So I want to give you first of all the four chief views of sanctification within the church, and then we’ll focus on the Wesleyan view, which as The Salvation Army, is the theology we follow. And I think you’ll see why, it’s quite beautiful. But I want you to be aware of all the various perspectives on sanctification.
Before we start I want to tell you that is issue of sanctification really hits on a huge, huge massive issue within the Christian faith, and it’s how Christians wrestle with sin after becoming Christians. This is to me the grand question of following Jesus: How do we resolve the fact of sin in the life of the believer? Do we ignore it? Do we throw up our arms and quit? Do we focus in on Christ? Do we work to overcome it? And these viewpoints each tell us a different response to the question of what should a Christian who keeps sinning do?
First of all we have the Lutheran view. I had quite a debate with one of my professors at Liberty university who held the Lutheran view of sanctification, and I found it to be quite an unacceptable viewpoint. But in any case, the Lutheran view suggests that the moment of salvation and sanctification are one in the same. So at the moment that you get saved, you are also fully sanctified. Which makes absolutely no sense to me. Because I haven’t met many Christians who seem to be instantly just like Jesus, though perhaps it does happen from time to time, I don’t know. But from my perspectives when I see Christians growing, it’s a lifelong process of slowly, sins being weeded out one by one, and a slow growth in maturity. So this perspective believes that it’s a sort of one and done, you get saved in Jesus, and at that same time you are fully sanctified as well.
So this perspective answers the question by saying we are new in Christ, any attempt to live a holy life is just man trying to be saved by his owns, and so we just focus on Jesus, grace through faith alone, and we don’t worry about it when we struggle in sin. To me, this perspective decides to ignore and push aside the sin problem in a believer’s life.
The second view is the Calvinist view. The Calvinist suggests that sanctification occurs both at the moment of salvation, and also as a progressive process through our whole lives. Believers are considered a new person, who is also being progressively renewed in Christ. So it’s lifelong process of slow growth in sanctification that never really meets an end. So a Calvinist would say, generally, that a believer will always sin in this life. And not to worry about it, you won’t be sanctified like Jesus until coming into heaven.
Once again, the question, what about sin in a believer’s life, the answer for the Calvinist is: Yes, you keep on sinning in this life. You can never be free from sin. So this perspective simply embraces sin as a reality of this life. They would say you can resist sin in Christ of course, but you can’t ever be fully free from sin.
The third view is the Keswick “Deeper Life” view. The Keswick view is best described from the Keswick movement that took place in the late 18th century from their first publication which states, “We believe that the Word of God teaches that the normal Christian life is one of uniform sustained victory over known sin… that a life of faith and victory, of peace and rest, are the rightful heritage of every child of God, and that he may step into it… not by long prayers, and laborious effort, but by a deliberate and decisive act of faith. The normal experience of the child of God should be one of victory instead of constant defeat, one of liberty, and rest, and that this may be obtained not by a lifelong struggle after an impossible ideal but by a surrender of the individual to God, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” The Keswick view indicates that Christians fight a battle within themselves between the desires of the flesh, and the desires of the Spirit. And as much as believers try to fight this battle to live in the Spirit, instead of the flesh, they can’t win the battle.