The way a lot of believers, pastors, and theologians tell it, ‘Sanctification’ is all about God imposing His standards on you, and all you get out of it is, ‘you become holy’, you become pleasing to Him.
The truth of the matter? Sanctification is more about enhancement of your entire person— spirit, soul, and body, than about any demands from God.
Whenever aspiring engineers learn the laws of gravity or kinetic energy, the knowledge enables arrival at truths that govern nature, at truths that are normative, at truths that are unchanging. In the understanding of said truths, engineers are able to arrive at effectiveness and efficiency in context of all of their engineering related endeavors.
The process of Sanctification fits exactly with the preceding analogy. In the creation of the universe, The Father has instituted some immutable spiritual laws, all of which revolve around His declaration that, ‘He, The Father is Love’. Since The Father is Love, it must be the case that it is in context of growth in capacity for, and demonstration of love that we find our highest fulfillment. The goal of sanctification then is not so much holiness, which focuses on our holy behaviors, exact nature of which change over time, but the acquiring of Love Essence of The Father, equivalently, Love Essence of Christ — essence that remains the same all through eternity.
Why is Essence more important than behaviors? A person who gets behavior right today, but who lacks essence, may get behavior wrong tomorrow. A person whose essence produces right behaviors always will produce right behaviors — because a good tree cannot produce bad fruit (Matthew 7:17–18). Figuratively, the goal of The Father is transformation of believers in Christ into trees that are good, with outcome all of the fruit (character, which is evidence for holiness) that comes from the trees (The Love of Christ) always are good.
The Father’s purpose in context of Sanctification is transformation of believers in Christ into the ‘highest approximate’ of the eternal truth that ‘He is Love’, to which they are able to attain.
The Reconciliation with Holiness?
As already articulated, suppose ‘Sanctification’ primarily is about The Father’s desire that you become like Christ, that you acquire a divine, essentially, celestial essence. If truly you acquire the Love Essence of Christ, you acquire love for right and loving actions, as such become holy. You see then that those who focus on holiness focus on the fruit, as opposed to the essence (spiritual nature) that is source of the fruit.
Holiness is not the objective of sanctification, rather is the fruit of sanctification. The objective of sanctification is that you acquire — to the highest approximate to which you are able to attain — the divine (spiritual) nature of Jesus Christ.
Some Supporting Scriptures (words in brackets that are boldened mine in spirit of an ‘amplified’ reading)?
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises (which enable our transformation), that through these (the promises) you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3–4).
For those whom He (The Father) foreknew (encountered in eternity) He also predestined (prepared paths for in order) to be conformed (shaped) to the image (divine nature) of His Son, in order that He might be the first-born among many brethren (Romans 8:29).
And hope (the hope of becoming like Christ in Love) does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us (Romans 5:5).
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13–14).
But the fruit of the Spirit is love (the love received directly from the Holy Spirit), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22–23).
The sequence of events is very clear. It is by believing the promises (2 Peter 1:3–4) made to man by God that there is arrival at the divine nature of Christ (Romans 8:29). This divine nature — the Love of God — is received through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit is received by faith, not by any worthiness attained to by a believer (Galatians 3:). Note ‘absence of worthiness’ only means absence of any accumulation of good works, does not imply commitment to a lifestyle that is known to be contrary to the will of The Father.
When a believer in Christ allows the Holy Spirit to do the work of transformation for which He is received by faith, he or she bears fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23), that is, produces Holiness.
Whenever Sanctification is, primarily, as opposed to secondarily related to Holiness, as opposed to a receiving of the divine nature of Christ by faith, and an allowing of that divine nature opportunity for purification of the spirit, soul, and body, the cart is placed before the horse. This, perhaps, is the reason many Christians struggle with actualization of objectives of Sanctification.
It is normative that placing of the cart before the horse does not work for accomplishment of objectives.
If Christians want to experience true holiness, acquiring of the nature of God — the Love of God — must be primary focus of sanctification.
How then to view the process of Sanctification?
Sanctification is a partnership between the Holy Spirit and believers in Christ. The work of pointing out sinful tendencies and weaknesses, to which man is blinded, is the work of The Holy Spirit. The resources required for the cleansing and purification — the blood of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit — cannot be produced by believers.
If believers in Christ are, themselves, incapable of production of the resources that make them holy, clearly, sanctification that is effective must commence with acquisition of said resources.
The Scriptures unequivocally declare that the resource that gets the sanctification process going is ‘The Love of Christ’, a distinct quality that is received through The Holy Spirit.
It is, in fact, this resource — ‘The Love of Christ’ — that is perfected in a believer in Christ in process of Sanctification (see Scriptures to follow).
What believers bring to the process of Sanctification is the willingness to become like Christ in Love; consciousness of the reality that it is the Love Essence of Christ that is received by faith, which renders overcoming of sin possible, with outcome they glory in Christ not in themselves; and Efforts — study of Scriptures, prayer, participation in loving fellowships of Christians etc. — that enable the work of sanctification flourish in their lives.
Prayer, Study of Christian Scriptures, and participation in Christian Fellowships are not an end in themselves, are efforts that enable flourishing of the work of transformation of a believer into the divine essence of Christ.
When a Christian seeks to be holy, and exerts efforts for attainment of holiness, yet without any conscious recourse to reality of the Love of Christ as the agent of change, he or she exerts effort in his or her strength, more likely than not struggles, and gives up on the process, perhaps concludes, rather erroneously, that there is not any spiritual reality to faith in Jesus Christ.
But herein resides the problem, which is, the pointing out of a weakness or sinful tendency to which a believer is blinded is the work of The Holy Spirit, not that of a believer (John 16:8).
What The Father expects is that a believer spends his or her time doing good works, walking in love towards others, and building himself or herself up in in his or her most holy faith (Acts 10:38; Jude 1:20–21). In course of all of these activities, The Holy Spirit uses events, interactions, or actions that transpire for pointing out of weaknesses or sinful tendencies to which a believer is blinded. When a believer rejoices in the spiritual reality that only a heavenly Father who loves seeks to cleanse, and submits what is pointed out to the blood of Jesus Christ for cleansing, in power of The Holy Spirit, he or she performs his or her part in process of sanctification.
The outcome of the honest acknowledgment that The Holy Spirit is right about a weakness or sinful tendency, and the willingness to be reformed from whatever is pointed out by The Holy Spirit, is receipt of fresh grace (more of, and a higher quality of the Love of Christ) from The Father.
We arrive then at the important catch, which is, it is not the righting of the character that is most important, rather it is the fact that, in the decision to respond honestly to the prompting of The Holy Spirit, believers in Christ qualify for more of the Love Essence of Christ. It is that new infusion of Love, which provides the power that is needed for righting of the character.
The Supporting Scriptural Evidence that it is ‘The Love of Christ’ that is perfected in context of the process of Sanctification?
He who is saying, `I have known him,’ and his command is not keeping, a liar he is, and in him the truth is not; and whoever may keep his word, truly in him the love of God hath been perfected; in this we know that in him we are. He who is saying in Him he doth remain, ought according as He walked also himself so to walk (1John 2:4–6).
God no one hath ever seen; if we may love one another, God in us doth remain, and His love is having been perfected in us (1John 4:11–12).
Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who did bless us in every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, according as He did choose us in Him before the foundation of the world, for our being holy and unblemished before Him, in Love (Ephesians 1:3–4).
Christian Scriptures are unequivocal, it is The Love of Christ, which itself is received from God, that is perfected in context of the process of Sanctification.
Holiness itself is defined as perfection in Love (Ephesians 1:3–4), as such only can be attained to by those who receive the Love of God.
It is growth in the Love Essence of Christ that is true essence of Sanctification. The pointing out of sinful tendencies and weaknesses enables ascertainment of the extent to which a believer truly desires to become like Christ, is a means to an end. It is the infusion of new grace that overwhelms the sinful tendency or weakness that enables a believer arrive at meaningful spiritual growth in Christ.
If a believer in Christ is not already obedient to all that he or she knows is right to do and be in Christ, he or she does not qualify for more of the Love of Christ.
Why then the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Law came in, to increase the trespass, but where(awareness of) sin increased, grace (the Love of God, which is not merited) abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through (love for) righteousness (in the hearts of those who believe) to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20–21).
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory (Essence) of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:13–14).
Why is it that we need to obtain mercy? Always, the grace that we need for overcoming is grace for which, on basis of our own merits alone, we do not yet qualify. All of our overcoming then is made possible by the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, by access to grace (power) that He earned for us, but for which we are yet to qualify.
There is much more to Sanctification than I have delineated in this post, much more to understand, much more to know, and much more to practice than I am able to enumerate.
This is exactly the reason that I have penned a book titled, ‘True Sanctification’ that now is available for sale on Amazon.com and through other outlets. True Sanctification is 480 pgs. long, amounts to about 200,000 words in total. By this, I intimate you as to vastness of knowledge that relates to Sanctification, knowledge that The Holy Spirit has helped me articulate for benefit of believers in Christ, for benefit of the Church at large, and for benefit of seekers after truth who as yet are not Christians, knowledge of which I am hopeful you will avail yourself.
True Sanctification is not an exercise in theology, is in entirety, focused on the practical daily living of the Life of Christ on earth.
I assure you, the practical spiritual knowledge in my book, ‘True Sanctification’ only resides in my book, does not as yet present itself in any other book on Sanctification.
But am I a pastor, theologian, or specialist in religion?
Well, I am not any of these things, but I have many years of volunteer layman experience teaching people about Christ. Remember, Apostles Peter, James, and John all were laymen, in fact, used to be fishermen. None of these men attended seminary, all were taught directly by The Lord Jesus Christ, and The Holy Spirit.
As evidence for sincerity of purpose, note that, averaging about 100 posts per year, I have been writing posts on faith in Jesus Christ, and economic, social, and governance implications of that faith on this Medium platform for well over two years. I have continued to write proactively and consistently, even though, historically, I never have made more than US$18.00 in any month writing on the Medium platform. Historically, more often than not, I did not even make my US$5.00 membership fee, yet I have continued to write prolifically.
I write because I am compelled by the Love of Christ to share what I know with others, Christians, or otherwise (2 Corinthians 5:14–15).
With respect to Apostle Paul, the Apostle who had seminary training, consider his very own words about the value of his seminary training in Galatians 1:11–12.
But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
A revelation of Jesus Christ can come to you through another believer in Christ.
What Apostle Paul is saying here is that, he did not receive His knowledge of Christ in context of formal seminary training. And this we know must be true, for it is normative that a person cannot assert that, having taking classes in a seminary, he or she must be assumed to be saved, or to have spiritual knowledge of Christ.
What then was the value of Paul’s seminary training? The capacity for articulation of the gospel philosophically, such that believers could see and live principles, not superstition.
The Father intends the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be understood as Principles to be lived, not superstition.
With 14 years of experience as a researcher who has PhD level preparation, more than 60 research articles (my SSRN author page), and a top 10% ranking as a researcher on the reputable Social Science Research Network (SSRN) platform, which is owned by Elsevier, I bring capacity for articulation of revelational spiritual truth as ‘principles’ to the penning of ‘True Sanctification’.
More importantly, I am compelled to share what I have been taught by The Holy Spirit, for I am constrained (mandated) by the Love of Christ.
Books, such as True Sanctification assist believers in Christ who have not had much time for studying of Scriptures, and/or who have not experienced some spiritual reality that is promised to faith in Christ, with arrival at knowledge of such spiritual realities.
For those who already have attained to such spiritual reality, books, such as True Sanctification codify their spiritual experiences, render it easier for them to share their spiritual experiences.
What better gift to yourself and to your believing friends this Christmas than knowledge that prepares you all for acquiring of more of the Love Essence of Christ in the years to come?