Sanctification, Part 4

Sanctification, Part 4

*This is a continuation from weekly series on the doctrine of sanctification.


While there is some debate, the death of Christ on the cross was sufficient for all men at all times to be redeemed.  When he cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30), the statement was not just referring to His earthly ministry; rather, Jesus was also referring to the work of redemption for those who believe upon Him.  While the previous discussion has shown that Christ, through the power of the indwelling Spirit is active in the life of the redeemed, it should also be noted that the work Christ has done is complete.  It needs no other activity to be fulfilled.  Christ’s death on the cross once and for all defeated sin and the earthly satanic powers thereby granting to those who believe the assurance that they are set apart for the work and redemption of God.

A Primary Work of the Spirit

Growth in sanctification through faith in the finished work of Christ is primarily a work of the Spirit.  While there are distinctions within the Trinity in relation to their work in the believer, there is unity of focus.  Arrington states:

The present work of Christ involves the work of the Father and the Holy Spirit.  But in light of Scripture we must recognize that much of God’s work in this present age is through the Holy Spirit.  The leading of Christ is frequently administered through the Holy Spirit: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14).  Inevitably the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit are interrelated.  So the fact remains that in the important undertakings of God, the Trinity is involved.[1]


Although Christ died on the cross, it is the Spirit that convicts the heart, drawing men to repentance.  John 16:8 states, “…and [the Spirit], when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…”  Here one finds the genesis of God’s sanctifying work in the believer happens prior to salvation for conviction must precede repentance.

Once one has repented and is in a saving relationship with Christ, the Spirit gives strength to persevere until glorification.  “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are Children of God” (Romans 8:14).  Romans 5:3-5 affirms the ministry of the Holy Spirit to help the child of God persevere in this life, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”  The Spirit helps the believer rest in the finished work of Christ,  persevering through trial and tribulation knowing that these difficulties will produce character “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:7).

Glorified With Christ

As believers look back to the work of the Spirit drawing them to repentance and look to the work of the Spirit as He leads them to more fully image to risen Christ, they also look ahead as the Spirit leads them to behold their present and future glorification with Christ.  “Those who believe gaze at the glory of God…as it shines forth from Christ, the image of God.”[2]  The ultimate purpose of God’s work in our sanctification is our glorification with Christ.  He, being glorified first as the first fruits of the resurrection, and then those who believe glorified at the resurrection, “…each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming…”(1 Corinthians 15:23).  The goal of sanctification in the believer then becomes not just a loosening of sinful desires and a longing for heavenly desires, but the goal of sanctification is ultimately glorification with Christ.  This is the full effect of our salvation.

The benefits of glorification are that the believer will be set free from death and will be dramatically changed.  While most Christians will experience physical death, the fear of death no longer applies (John 14:1-6; Hebrews 2:14-15).  2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  The forward looking believer is empowered by the Spirit to no longer fear death in light of the surpassing knowledge of God’s eternal glory which is to come.  In essence, we are sanctified by Christ through the Spirit, overcoming the fear of death.

In addition, we have hope that we will be dramatically changed by this glorification.  “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 15:53-55).  While the means of this change is mysterious, the fact of this change is not for “we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51).  “At the first sight of Christ in His glory, ‘we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is’ (1 John 3:2).”[3] Even so come Lord Jesus!

[1] Arrington 103

[2] Seifrid, Mark A. Christ Our Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of justification (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press) 2000, 114.

[3] Arrington 250

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