When Does Sanctification And Being Set Apart Take Place – Spiritual Reading.
We now come to the question about which there has been the most discussion, the most differences of opinion, the most controversy. When does sanctification take place? If we will go to our Bibles to get the answer to the question there need be no difference of opinion. There are three parts to the answer.
1. The first part of the answer is found in:
I Cor. 1:2, “Unto the Church of God, which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, [their Lord and ours.”
Here the Holy Spirit speaking through the Apostle Paul, plainly declares that all the members of the church of God are already sanctified in Christ Jesus. Sanctification in this sense is not something that we are to look for in the future, it is something that has already taken place. The moment any one becomes a member of the Church of God by simple faith in Christ Jesus, for all who have faith in Christ Jesus are members of the Church of God, that moment that person is sanctified.
Every saved man and woman in this building this morning, every one who has living faith in Jesus Christ, is sanctified. Our sanctification is involved in our salvation. But in what sense are we, that is, all believers, already sanctified? The answer to this question is found in a passage of Scripture to which we have already referred, Heb. 10:10, 14, “By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . . . For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
The meaning is plain. By the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all on the Cross of Calvary as a perfect atonement for sin, every believer is cleansed forever from the guilt of sin. We are “perfected forever” as far as our standing before God is concerned, and are set apart for God. The sacrifice of Christ does not need to be repeated as were the Jewish sacrifices (V. I).
The work is done once for all, sin is put away, and forever put away (Heb. 9:26; cf. Gal. 3:13), and we are set apart forever as God’s peculiar and eternal possession. If any one asks you if you are sanctified; if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, i.e., if you have a living faith, in Jesus Christ, you have a right to say, “I am.” Every believer in Christ is a saint, a saint not in the sense in which that word is oftentimes used in modern usage, but in the Bible sense, as being set apart for God and belonging to God and being God’s peculiar property.
But there is another sense in which every believer may be fully sanctified to-day. This is found in Rom. 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.”
In this passage we see that it is the believer’s present and blessed privilege, and important and solemn duty, to present his body to God a living sacrifice—not some part or parts of the body, but the whole body with its every member and every faculty. And when we do thus present our whole body to God a living sacrifice, then we are wholly sanctified.
Such an offering is well-pleasing to God. As God in the Old Testament showed His pleasure in the offering by sending down fire to take it to Himself, so when the whole body is thus offered to God, God will send down fire again, the fire of the Holy Ghost, and take to Himself what is thus presented. The moment a believer does thus present himself a living sacrifice to God, then, so far as his will, the governing purpose of his life, the very centre of his being, is concerned, he is wholly God’s, or “perfectly sanctified.”
He may still, and will still, daily discover, as he studies the Word of God and is illumined by the Holy Spirit, acts of his, habits of life, forms of feeling, speech and action, that are not in conformity with this central purpose of his will, and these must be confessed to God as blameworthy and put away, and this department of his being and life brought, by God’s Spirit and the indwelling Christ, into conformity with God’s will as revealed in His Word.
The victory in this newly discovered and unclaimed territory may be instantaneous. For example, I may discover in myself an irritability of temper that is manifestly displeasing to God. I can go to God, confess it, renounce it and then instantly, not by my own strength, but by looking to Jesus and claiming His patience and gentleness, overcome it and never have another failure in that direction. And so it is with every other sin and weakness in my life that I am brought to see is displeasing to God.
2. But this is not the whole answer to the question of when we are sanctified. The second part of the answer is found in:
I Thess. 3:12, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do towards you.” And the 4th chapter of this same epistle, the 1st and 10th verses, “Finally then, brethren, we beseech you and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, even as ye do walk, that ye abound more and more. . . . For indeed ye do it toward all the brethren that are in all Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, that ye abound more and more.”
And in II Pet. 3:18, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
And II Cor.3:18, R. V., “But we all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, and even as from the Lord the Spirit.”
And in Eph. 4:15, 16, “But speaking truth in love, may grow up in all things unto him, who is the head, even Christ; from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love.”
From these passages we see that there is a progressive work of Sanctification, an increasing in love, an abounding more and more in a godly walk and in pleasing God, a growing in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, a being transformed into the image of our Lord from glory unto glory, each new gaze at Him making us more like Him; a growing up into Christ in all things, until we attain unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Here we see there is a progressive work of Sanctification.
3. But we have not found the whole answer to the question of when Men are Sanctified, even yet. We find the remainder of the answer to the question in our text:
1 Thess. 5:23 accurately translated as it is in the Revised Version, “And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here we are plainly told that the complete sanctification of believers, complete in the fullest sense, is something to be sought for in prayer and that is to be accomplished by God in the future and perfected at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The same thought is found in this same book, the 3rd chapter and 12th and 13th verses, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you, to the end that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with his saints.”
It is “at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints” that He is to establish our hearts un-blamable in holiness before our God and Father and that our spirit and soul and body are to be preserved entire without blame. The same thought is found in IJohn 3:2, “Beloved, now are we children of God, it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
It is not in the life that now is, and it is not at death, that we are entirely sanctified, spirit, soul, and body. It is at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is one of the many reasons why the well-instructed believer constantly cries, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.”
Excerpt From – The Fundamental Doctrines Of The Christian Faith By Reuben Archer Torrey.
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