Suffering or Sanctification

Ary Scheffer: The Temptation of Christ, 1854
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SANCTIFICATION

We believe that sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of His holiness; that it is a progressive work; that is begun in regeneration; and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer and Comforter, in the continual use of the appointed means, especially the Word of God, self examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer.

References: 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Proverbs 4:18; 1 John 2:29

Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Involves more than a mere moral reformation of character, brought about by the power of the truth: it is the work of the Holy Spirit bringing the whole nature more and more under the influences of the new gracious principles implanted in the soul in regeneration. In other words, sanctification is the carrying on to perfection the work begun in regeneration, and it extends to the whole man (Romans 6:13; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Colossians 3:10; 1 John 4:7; 1 Corinthians 6:19). It is the special office of the Holy Spirit in the plan of redemption to carry on this work (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Faith is instrumental in securing sanctification, inasmuch as it (1) secures union to Christ (Galatians 2:20), and (2) brings the believer into living contact with the truth, whereby he is led to yield obedience “to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come.”

Perfect sanctification is not attainable in this life (1 Kings 8:46; Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8). See Paul’s account of himself in Romans 7:14-25; Philippians 3:12-14; and 1 Timothy 1:15; also the confessions of David (Psalm 19:12, 13; 51), of Moses (90:8), of Job (42:5, 6), and of Daniel (9:3-20). “The more holy a man is, the more humble, self-renouncing, self-abhorring, and the more sensitive to every sin he becomes, and the more closely he clings to Christ. The moral imperfections which cling to him he feels to be sins, which he laments and strives to overcome. Believers find that their life is a constant warfare, and they need to take the kingdom of heaven by storm, and watch while they pray. They are always subject to the constant chastisement of their Father’s loving hand, which can only be designed to correct their imperfections and to confirm their graces. And it has been notoriously the fact that the best Christians have been those who have been the least prone to claim the attainment of perfection for themselves.”, Hodge’s Outlines.

Noah Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language

1. (n.) The act of sanctifying or making holy; the state of being sanctified or made holy;

2. (n.) the act of God’s grace by which the affections of men are purified, or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love to God; also, the state of being thus purified or sanctified.

3. (n.) The act of consecrating, or of setting apart for a sacred purpose; consecration.

I listed above the article of faith which pertain to “Sanctification” as well as a Biblical definition for the term.  Now lets look and some scriptures which discribes our different states before and after coming to Christ.

Ephesians 2:1-3

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

2 Peter 1:4-11

4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:1-17

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in sinful man,[d] 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.[g] And by him we cry, “Abba,[h] Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Hebrews 12

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”[a]

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13“Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

So how do we go from a sinful nature to a nature that is divine as stated by Peter?  Sanctification of course but what does that have to do with suffering?  Have you ever told a child to not touch the stove?  Have you ever notice how your tone changes during this shaping of the child’s thinking?  You first start off nice and claim but the child still goes near the stove.  You try to tell them that is hot but they don’t listen.  Next you pick them up and show them while you are hold them that its hot.  That still doesn’t work.  Finally you yell but its useless they continue to got in the kitchen.  They don’t stop until they actually burn their hands.  Now they will never go near the stove again.  Or think of the progressive steps taken to prepare a athlete for a actual game.  Some don’t learn how to properly catch a ball until it hits them in the face.  Some don’t learn how important it is to drink water until they get the worse cramp they have ever experienced.  We usually don’t lose the taste or desire to do something until it hurts us.  Unfortunately, we respond better to pain rather than kindness.  Just like life sometimes seems sweeter after we have lost a love one.  The suffering that goes on during our sanctification builds a relationship with God in which the foundation is not mere blessings or prayer opportunities.  P.S. the “God if you fix this I will do that” prayers really don’t work.  Of course God would much rather not have to go through all of that pruning (John 15) to get you to bear the fruits of the Spirit.  Yes it is sad that some have to be put in prison before they will listen and follow Christ.  It is sad that some will have to lose everything before they turn to Christ.

Romans2:4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

There is really not more that I can add the scriptures say it all.  We tend to look for more because its too simple and its to plain. God is not the God of confusion.  There isn’t some secret reason why we suffer or why we go through so much pain.  If we were all obedient children of God then He wouldn’t have to do it.  Point is that we are not as good and holy as we make of to be.  We are not that innocent and God is leading us to that point; that point of looking just like our Savior Jesus Christ(Romans 8:28-39).  We are in the Master’s hand and we will never stand against anything alone because He is always with us.

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