We've been engaged in theological discussions, and today, we'll delve into the concept of sanctification. Don't let the term intimidate you; I'll explain it thoroughly. We started talking about it last week, and simply put, sanctification means being set apart, special, and different. In Biblical terms, it refers to becoming holy, the process God's people undergo.
Before we dive into this week's discussion on sanctification, let's explore it more deeply. It's beneficial to talk about the means of sanctification, and here's where it gets interesting. When we engage in theology, our goal is to provide insights that strengthen your faith. I hope you're discussing these topics with friends or in a small family setting. Theology shines brightest in these environments.
So, the means of sanctification is essentially how God transforms ordinary individuals into something extraordinary and holy. We've been focusing on the Holy Spirit's role in this process for months. Throughout the church's history, there have been debates and disagreements about the mechanics of sanctification. Acknowledging these different perspectives is important, but let's first explore what the Bible has to say.
One of the clearest and most understandable verses on this subject can be found in 1 Corinthians. As part of our weekly broadcasts, we challenge you and your group to memorize Scripture together. Today, I'll provide just one verse for you to memorize. This practice is crucial because having these verses committed to memory allows you to reflect on them while waiting in line, pumping gas, or traveling. Here's the verse:
Let's take a moment to unpack this verse from 1 Corinthians 6:11. Before this verse; the Bible discusses some of the worst behaviors imaginable – lying, cheating, adultery, idolatry, murder. It's important to grasp this list because when Paul says, "Such were some of you," he's referring to people who engaged in these actions. They were liars, cheats, adulterers, idolaters, and even murderers. That was their past identity.
However, this verse highlights a transformative truth. That is, you were once like that, but you've been washed clean. You've been sanctified, made holy. You've been justified through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. This passage underscores the profound change that has taken place.
In context, 1 Corinthians 6:11 emphasizes a change from such negative behaviors to a new and holy identity. And this is where the term "sanctification" comes into play. You are different now because you've been sanctified and justified. We previously discussed justification a few months back. The Bible explains that this transformation occurred through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ's blood and the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Over the past two millennia, the church has grappled with understanding the mechanics of this transformation. To illustrate, let's consider two crucial concepts: "definitive sanctification" and "progressive sanctification." These terms shed light on how this process unfolds.
Definitive sanctification is that precise moment when you experienced a radical change through Jesus. It occurred at your union with Christ. This is when Jesus called you out of sin and into his family, making you his disciple and follower. It's when you transitioned from being a sinner to being seen as a saint in God's eyes. This transformative moment is unchanging.
On the other hand, there's progressive sanctification. This refers to an ongoing process as you journey with Jesus. While, in God's view, you're no longer a sinner but His child, there's residual baggage that needs to be shed and virtues that need to be cultivated within you. This lifelong walk with Jesus involves removing what doesn't belong and instilling what should be there.
It's crucial to grasp that progressive sanctification is continual and ceaseless. It persists until your earthly life ends or until Christ's return, whichever comes first. Definitive sanctification marks the instant you were united with Christ, while progressive sanctification represents the daily process of growing more Christlike – spiritually aligning with His character and love.
This journey is far from linear. Some days you might feel like you're making more steps backward than forward, and that's okay. The important part is that you're growing to reflect on Jesus more each day.
Now, for a thought-provoking question: Pause and reflect before responding hastily. If you're with your parents, have an open conversation with them. If you're with friends, discuss this together. And if you're alone, take a moment to introspect. Here's the question:
How have your actions today reflected Christ more than they did last week? In simpler terms, do you see a change in your behavior, aligning it more closely with Christ's example compared to last week? This isn't a straightforward yes or no question, and it might not be easy to answer. It's not just a matter of saying "yes, I've improved" or "no, I haven't."
Consider this "how" question intentionally. If you're able to say "yes," that you've lived, looked, and loved more like Christ this week than the previous one, then the next question arises: How exactly have you experienced increased sanctification this week? I'm urging you to answer this candidly and honestly.
If you find this question challenging, it could indicate that your connection with Jesus might not have been as strong this week. It could be an opportunity to reevaluate and consider investing more time and energy into your walk with Jesus in the upcoming week. Perhaps redirect some of the time you spent on Netflix, social media, work, or relationships toward nurturing your relationship with Jesus.
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