Salvation and Sanctification
How often over the decades have we heard the dialog regarding "grace alone?" (Grace in this article means just the one aspect of "grace" most accept... that of Christ's sacrifice for their own sins). "Grace is how we are saved, period, end of subject, and there's nothing else
involved," many say. Perhaps if we looked at the subject in a different light, we
may be able to better understand the difference between "grace" and "works" and
how both are
part of the process the Father is working out here on Earth with human
No one argues the fact that Christ's sacrifice pays the death penalty for each of us. We are saved by that grace...
- Eph 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved..." NKJV throughout.
Throughout the New Testament we have countless scriptures that clearly tell
us that salvation is through the Father's grace, based on the blood of Christ being
shed for the remission of our sins. Christ's blood saves us from death, period.
Our works do not save us, and cannot save us. Many use this truth to point to
the "law" (including the Father's commandments, Holy Days, etc.) as being either "done
away with," or not having anything of vital importance to do with actual
If we stop at "being saved from sin," we could accept this doctrinal
position, however, there is clearly more to the story. Being "saved" begs the
question... "Saved for what?" What is the Father doing and what is He saving us for?
Where are we headed in this "salvation" process? How about "the rest of the
Looking at the New Testament once again, we can see a major theme being
taught that indicates that mankind is being saved for a great purpose:
- Eph 4:13 "...till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge
of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the
fullness of Christ;"
- 2 Cor 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
This "reconciliation" is the beginning of our walk with the Father and Christ. Notice, too, that it states "that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" This "become" is not a present tense word, but one that signifies something that would eventually be fully experienced at a later time.
- Rom 3:23 "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace (Not the only grace there is) through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Christ's blood paid the penalty for us... death in our place was what He took on Himself. Our "reconciliation" is based on our faith in being forgiven and cleansed of "sins that were previously committed." We are made free from sin that is past.
- Rom 4:3 "For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 David Celebrates the Same Truth But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness..."
We can stop at these scriptures about being reconciled to God, and "accounted for righteousness," and believe that it was all "ended" by Christ, but therein is the subtle lies Satan foists on Christianity.
So what actually DOES bring us to this Holy "stature and fullness of Christ" mentioned in Eph 4:13?
We need to move from forgiveness of sins... "salvation" into the process by which we become like Christ... "sanctification" which means made holy.
The best place to start to shine a light on what is happening and why, is
back at the beginning with the two trees... the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil, and the tree of life... (Taken from the article on ecumenicalism in the church).
- Gen 2:9 "The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
There seems to be considerable confusion
regarding these two trees and what they symbolize, and many are being deceived
by the ecumenical siren song being promoted.
It seems that some have a distorted image of what God is doing. They see the
two trees in a different light... that is, the tree of the knowledge of evil
being the one tree which Adam and Eve shouldn't have eaten of, and then the tree
of good and life. To better clarify, many people are being confused by human,
carnal good vs. God's good.
Anyone can look within traditional Christianity, and even in other religions,
and see many "good" people doing many "good" things. Every religion can show
examples of people doing "good" things for others and generally living a "good"
life, and this is causing confusion with some in the Church of God (COG). They seemingly can't
believe that such people could possibly be profane to God or that God does NOT
approve of their worship practices.
They look around and see traditional Christian people not in the COG, and who
have little or no understanding of most of God's truth, but are decent people,
fun to be with and seemingly showing "more "love" than those in the COG," as
some have stated it. Many of these people have a zeal for God, yes, and are
doing their best. This isn't to castigate any of the "good" they are doing, but
it IS to point out that this "good" and "their best" is NOT God's "good."
The "good" that comes from this alone is not acceptable to God...
- Isa 64:6 "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;"
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is just that... the knowledge of
GOOD, yes, but also knowledge of evil, not just evil alone. That means that the carnal mind is capable of
doing a "GOOD" along with evil. Free will and choice allows for good to be chosen as
well as evil. There are many people in the world who have no belief in God at
all, but do "good" works such as helping the poor, serving in various
capacities, helping their fellow man. This is good... but as was stated, this is
NOT the level of good that God is looking for or building within His church.
Yes, Christ showed us some examples in MT 25, but if we used this criteria
alone as the judge of who will be in God's kingdom, then we would have to add
people from every religion on earth today, and even atheists. Is it "good works"
that create Christ's nature in people? An atheist can do all that which is
mentioned by Christ, but does this save him or her, or form Godly character in them?
Being "saved" by Christ's blood does NOT bring us to the "stature and fullness" of Christ, His "righteousness," immediately,
and to believe it does, shames Christ and the Father. Imagine it like this... we have dirt on our lives from sins, and Christ's blood cleans up the dirt, but does this cleansing remove our proclivity to sin... the nature which sins? NO! Does "reconciliation" mean sin no longer exists or is an issue for us?
- 1 John 1:8 "If we say that we have no sin , we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
John was writing this to the church decades after all being justified with God, but he still states clearly that sin was still an element in life, but that if we repented of the sin... continued the fight against it and overcoming it, God is faithful to forgive us.
Remember Paul's struggles with sin?
- Rom 7:14 "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."
Paul clearly states that sin was still part of his life, even decades after his "reconciliation." So, what else was taking place?
- 1 Thess 4:3 "For this is the will of God, your sanctification..."
- 2 Thess 2:13 "God from the beginning chose you for salvation through
sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth..."
The word "Sanctification" comes from a word that means: "properly,
purification, i.e. (the state) purity; KJV - holiness."
This word comes from a root word that means "to make holy," i.e. (ceremonially) purify or
consecrate; (mentally) to venerate: KJV - hallow, be holy.
This is a process... "salvation THROUGH sanctification." But how does this work, and is it even necessary?
- James 1:21 "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror ; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."
James is speaking to the church... those reconciled to God long before, and he is telling them to continue in the word... because it is THAT which "saves their souls..." i.e. continually comparing ourselves with God's word... the mirror, and not forgetting where we are deficient, and "doing" the word... obeying the word, following the word, and not just hearing (or believing it is all done for us already), "deceiving ourselves."
- Rom 2:13 "for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;
This shows us that "justification" is still involved with the sanctification process... "doing..." applying the "tools of sanctification" such as observing the true Sabbath Day, God's Holy Days, his commandments, and such. All these things are provided by God, made holy and to be used in our lives to become sanctified.
- Ps 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path."
Notice it is God's word which shows us how to behave, what to do, how to think, and all this slowly "perfects" us as we apply it... work it... become it.
- Eph 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it (faith) is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
The grace alone deception was extant even in the Apostle's day...
- Jude :4 "ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." NASU
Licentiousness means "Lacking moral discipline or ignoring legal restraint, filth." Those accepting that grace is all that is needed, and that lawlessness (sin) is "ok" because we are "saved," are actually denying Jesus Christ... it is THAT serious.
Christ's sacrificial grace saves us from death, but the "works" are involved with the change in us from what we were, to what Christ is, NOW. Christ speaks of this process...
- Eph 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."
Christ is achieving this process in those whom the Father calls and gives to Him for this process.
- Rev 22:14 "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie."
- Rev 21:7 "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Overcome "what?" What is there to "overcome" if we are immediately saved with nothing left to do?
The "law" of God is very much alive and in force... the penalty of death is NOT, because of forgiveness and Christ's sacrificial grace, but that "grace" is not the only step.
- Romans 5:10 "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
Notice, it doesn't say we "are" saved (a completed event at the point of being justified), but that we "shall be saved..." and how? "Saved by His life!" That is, Christ begins living in us, the Holy Spirit is now in us if we have repented and been baptized, and we begin to grow and change, moving from the carnal body of sin, to the stature of Christ, but this isn't an instant thing, and this takes WORK. Overcoming, enduring, standing, resisting...
Notice the warning Christ gave the church in Revelation 3:
- Rev 3:18 "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may
be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your
nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may
These are God's own people, part of the true Church, already "saved" through
faith, but something was obviously lacking, and could be a huge problem for them. This sure doesn't indicate that "being saved," or "justified,"
was enough for this group, does it? "I'm saved by grace alone" could be their
conclusion, clearly making them lukewarm in the salvation process if there's
more to it than "salvation alone." God is working with our free will for a
- Mal 3:2 "For He is like a refiner's fire."
- Isa 64:8 "But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand."
God's will goes beyond "salvation" for mankind and enters the realm which
includes God Himself; HOLY! Many believe God somehow immediately changes us, instantly applied perfection,
to any human who accepts Christ and is "saved," but is this scriptural?
- Rom 6:18 "And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness... (being sanctified by this "presenting"). 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
- Heb 2:10 "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren..."
Notice that Christ also suffered as part of "perfecting" His role as our high priest. How much more does it take for us to be "perfected" through trials, as well as using the tools God has given us?
- Rom 2:4 "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" 7 ...by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;"
The fruit of the spirit are the growing results of the sanctification process...
- Gal 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
Why this warning that without being made holy, [sanctification], no one would see God? The change is critical or we are simply aborting ourselves.
Hundreds of scriptures could be listed showing that God's work in His people
takes time, and includes such things as repentance, overcoming, enduring,
prayer, study, fasting, meditation, obedience, submission, etc. They also
include those despised things such as the 10 Commandments, the Holy Days, God's 7th day Sabbath, and other established guidelines God provided for the sanctification
In other words, despite some belief to the contrary, such things as
commandments, principles, laws, Holy Days... are all the tools God uses for the
sanctification process. They don't "save" anyone. However, with God's spirit
working in us, these tools DO lead us to "sanctification," better known as being
conformed to the image (Holy) of Christ. It isn't rocket science.
So a question we need to ask is, Can "salvation" be concluded (the first
resurrection) without "sanctification?" Can stopping with Christ's sacrifice alone still
sanctify us, make us Holy like God... bring us into the family of God? Going
further, can "sanctification" occur without the 10 Commandments, Holy Days,
including the Sabbath, and other commands Christ gave us to follow? If we disregard the
tools God has provided us to mold and shape us, using His Holy Spirit, the power
which performs the change in us, how can we become Holy like He and Christ?
Do the Holy Days or commandments save us? NO! Forgiveness comes from Christ's
sacrifice and God's grace. Can we disregard the commandments, Holy Days, etc.,
as having no part in the salvation process? Equally, NO! Tools are tools, not a replacement for Christ's sacrifice, but they ARE vital in the sanctification process. Sure, God could have
created different tools to use in His sanctification process, but He didn't. He
doesn't do things without purpose in mind. He didn't create His laws and Holy
Days as just some way to trip us up or demand compliance to. To think we can
disregard one or more of these tools as being unnecessary to salvation, His
creative efforts to reproduce Himself... is not a wise or safe position to
The tools God gave us reflect His nature in some spiritual dimensional way.
Perhaps if we view them as more than simple "do's and dont's," we'll come to
experience their power and change in our lives and in the collective Church much
more significantly. Salvation AND Sanctification. That is the rest of the
Salvation AND Sanctification sermon message!
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