Through our Big Words series, we have looked mainly at things that Christ as achieved for us when he died and rose – gracious things in which we have no part to play but merely receive the benefits (like justification and redemption). The final sermon in this series focuses on sanctification which is slightly different.

This is still a work of God’s grace by his Spirit – but it does require our effort as well. We are instructed (in many passage) to strive towards it. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 makes clear that sanctification is something God intends for us all. Passages such as 1 John 1:5-2:2 help us recognise the tension that exists for each and every Christian (that is, neither ignoring nor denying sin (1 John 1:6, 8, 10) but striving against it (1 John 2:1) and yet confidently trusting Jesus to wash us (1 John 1:7, 9; 2:1).

Sunday’s Sermon focuses on Romans 6:1-14 (listen at the Sermons page) and explains how our growth in holiness is grounded in Christ’s death and resurrection (what a great passage for us to study the week after Easter!). The big idea is that since Christ has died and risen (fact!) all Christians are dead to sin and can therefore refuse sin the right to rule in our lives.

As always, there is much that cannot be said in one sermon, so below are a few notes relating to sanctification that the sermon didn’t cover:

  1. There is a sense in which we are already sanctified. 1 Corinthians 1:2 describes Christians as “those sanctified in Christ Jesus.” This is referring to the fact that we are already perfect in God’s sight. We are holy, blameless, spotless. This is sometimes called positional or definitive sanctification. Alongside this, the New Testament makes clear that sanctification is a process. There is progressive sanctification – this is the more common use of the term sanctification. Hebrews 10:14 makes clear that these two aspects are distinct but inseparable.
  2. Wayne Grudem defines sanctification as “a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and life Christ in our actual lives.” (page 746). So sanctification is about how we grow more and more like Jesus. This is something that continues for the whole of our lives. As Christians, we are to be striving, with God’s help, day by day to be more like Jesus.
  3. Hebrews 12:10 gives is another perspective: our loving Heavenly Father uses hardship and discipline so that “we may share in his holiness.” In other words, the struggles of this life are means that God uses for our sanctification. (See also James 1:2-4 and 1 Peter 1:3-9).
  4. Some further reading if you’re keen to know more:
    1. What Is Sanctification
    2. The Difference between Justification and Sanctification
    3. John Piper and Tim Keller discussing the topic (videos) part I | part II

Sanctification are the signs of salvation but not the cause. (Keller)