Christ is our Santification
Instead of Introduction
Does a born-again Christian need sanctification? This question was put before me by one of God’s servants a bit more than ten years ago, after serious and blessed study of John I, 3:1-10. This question did not surprise me at all, as I knew that this person did not preach his audience, even Christians in its midst, anything but repentance and faith, justification and conversion. Just like this preacher, the audience has grown accustomed to such type of preaching and has not thought of other truths, considering what was preached to be the total and comprehensive God’s truth, necessary for redemption.
What really bothered me about the above question and what, to this day, pains me, was its tone. It summarized unvoiced desire: if only it was possible to manage without sanctification!
God’s Word does not leave this question without an answer. And its answer is decisive and absolute. Moreover, It does not even allow a room for doubt, if one studies God’s Word seriously.
Yet nowadays there are thousands and thousands of God’s children who would be quite content, if they had a proper explanation, to consider sanctification superfluous. Perhaps even you, my reader, belong to their line of thinking. Or you, a God’ servant, working to bring souls to Christ, but not concerned about their future after the conversion?
For this reason, I wanted to ask you to look into this valuable God’s truth closer. Study it and learn to strive for it, as well as directing others towards it.
I hope it would be a blessing, if we could point out, even generally, how the Scripture differentiates justification and sanctification, and how both are a Biblical requirement. I hope that even if we linger on some passages, we will not, as one Christian said “stop on the fifth chapter of Romans, if not earlier than that, and close the Bible altogether on the sixth.” I hope that from this day forth we will give freedom to the Holy Spirit to lead us to the truth regarding the Scripture.
Thus, if we look into the Scripture for differentiation between justification and sanctification, we will find that: justification always deals with a sinner. If we read the first three chapters of the Romans, we will find a true portrait of those, to whom justification through faith in Christ is offered. There is a terrifying description of those, who are justified without merit. In the fourth chapter, God is portrayed as God who justifies a sinner. Both in it and other passages in the Bible, the consideration is given only to those who are fallen, who are cursed and condemned, who have forever ruined their lives. Therefore, the Word about forgiveness of sins and justification belongs to them, and if we are properly instructed, we will direct these Good News about justification through Christ’s Blood toward the sinners.
Sanctification, on the other hand, deals with those who are saved and justified. The Gospel does not admonish a sinner to live righteously and holy, but a righteous man. Galatians 2:17 says: “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!”(NASB). So, a man who is justified through Christ should be holy. And only this kind of men could be holy. So that, as Luke 1:74-75 states “we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear” (ESV). Hence, firstly - justification, then - service in holiness and without fear. If atonement took place, holiness and service should follow. Do you agree with this thinking, my reader?
Sanctification always presupposes salvation, which is, as its consequence, - holiness in Christ (See Romans 6:22, Colossians 1:22, Titus 2:11-12, 14).Henceforth,sanctification only concerns God’s children.
Justification, according to Gospel, concerns our sins, or fruits of our flesh, which ripened in our thoughts, deeds, and words (See Romans 6:21, 7:5, Galatians 5:19-21_ Justification reaches beyond them onto consequences of our sins, the damnation and condemnation that goes with it. For all of that we are to receive pardon and justification. If we want to have a right to life before God, all our sins are to be forgiven and atoned (Psalm 31:1), removed (Psalm 102:12), thrown over (Isaiah 38:17), cast down into abyss (Micah 7:19), washed by Christ’s Blood (Revelation 1:5), effaced (Isaiah 44:22, Colossian 2:14) and forever forgotten (Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 10:17).
This takes place with justification of every God’s child. Justification goes even further: it covers our sinful nature, our entire being. It has nothing to do with our past “fruits”, but with their “root” and “cause”. It is not sufficient that our sins are to be forgiven, but our sinful nature must also die along with our sins and be replaced by godly nature, as apostle Peter says: “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:4)
Many renounce this, making excuses for their sinful nature, temper and deeds. They reject the notion that Christ can reveal Himself in them (Galatians 4:19) and that the spirit, soul and body must be entirely sanctified. If we occupy ourselves only with justification, without sanctification, then it’s possible that a certain number of people will turn to Christ, but will never be able to abandon their carnal way of thinking. Even if the Holy Spirit initially delivered them from it, the people will fall back into their carnal ways.
Further, justification deals with the past condition, it deals with what already took place. Justification is a great turning point in the life of a sinner – between his/her sinful life and life for God.
Since justification is a sharp break with the past, we refer to it as something definitive and something that already took place. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith” (Romans 5:1 NIV), we can joyously partake in Christ’s atonement, where everyone can, like David, say “you have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.” (Psalm 31:5 AKJ) "
This undoubted change in the life of Apostle Paul is described in Acts 9:1-20, Acts 22:1-21, 1 Timothy 1:13-16). Also, it was said to Zaccheaus “"Todaysalvation has come to this house,” (Luke 19:9 NIV) and to the thief “"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV). Whereas when referring to the God’s children, the Gospel talks about justification as about something that already happened.
It is different when it comes to sanctification. Sanctification deals with the present and current condition. Even if the person has been God’s child for 10, 20, 30 and more years, it is clear that sanctification is an ever evolving process, something has been accomplished and something is yet to be accomplished. And it is clear that even if you have justification, you might not yet have sanctification. Even if we are sanctified to some extent, it is something that we should always strive for, more and more (Hebrews 12:14,Philippians 3:13-14).
As many that are not justified in Christ mix up sanctification with justification, they insist that it is impossible to say that one is an expiated child of God, in peace with God.
Thus, justification is the beginning of expiation, sanctification is the mid-point of it, and perfect sanctification is the end of glorious expiation. Truly, sanctification for us is a daily, ever-growing expiation impacting our lives, our nature and our being. It is liberation of our soul, our body, our feelings, our talents and gifts, our time, and all that we are and that we have – liberation from the slavery of flesh.
Therefore sanctification must continue in us, until we will bear the seal “Lord’s Sacred Place”, and we, ourselves, will wear the seal of this expiation. It is dangerous to preach only conversion, forgiveness of sins, repentance, faith and justification, because this leads believers to think that that’s all that Christ’s expiation brings us. And they stop at the beginning of expiation, they do not reach the goal and the right that God has put before his children.
Another thing – Justification is only a mean to the goal, but not the goal itself. Unfortunately, most of God’s children think that if they are already justified by Christ, they have reached their goal. Romans 8:30 describes many means of reaching the goal. – There are many of them. The passage mentions predestination, calling, and justification. Verse 28 states that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him”. The goal is like the likeness of the Son (8:29 NIV) and transformation into His image, and that is nothing but the complete holiness.
And if God gives the mean to reach that noble goal, and we keep standing by it as if we already reached it, then we are our own obstruction in attaining the goal. According to God’s predestination, we ought to build a tower, but, using the material given by Him, we only put down a foundation and stop at that. And even if we continue to build, we build with wood and straw.
This way we hinder ourselves to reach our predestined goal. God has a purpose that we, as Christ’s disciples, be like Christ himself. Instead, we are happy that we merely heard and accepted the call to discipleship, but did not renounce ourselves, did follow in learning how to be more like Christ and did not give ourselves completely to Him.
In this case God will never be able to reach His goal in us. Hence, let’s not mix up means with the goal, which is to attain likeness of Christ, in thought, behavior, life. To this end God leads us through sanctification.
Comparing justification and sanctification, we see that before God, in his requirements for us, both are highly esteemed. One cannot exist without the other. Never can we be sanctified, if we are not justified and reconciled with God. If justification took takes place, sanctification shows how much Christ’s expiation has become real to us and to which extent he has taken over our lives.
Let’s look at the Gospel’s requirement for us to be holy:
Because God Himself is Holy – “Because I am holy” – that is His reason for demanding his people to be pure, chaste and pleasing to Him. Lord cannot have anything to do with us, unless it’s grounded on holiness
Because God commands us to be holy - Before God gave all other laws to the Israel, He demanded dedication of the first-borns, which represented the entire people. And the commandment “Be holy” repeats, more than anything else, throughout His laws. It represents God’s purpose for his people. And the Holy Spirit, carrying this commandment into the New Testament, directs it to us just as seriously (1 Peter 1:15-16). In Thessalonians 4:3 it states “For this is the will of God, your sanctification”.
Because, just as we are elected for, so are we called to sanctification “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Ephesians 1:4). “ But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15). And even His call to us is a holy call (2 Timothy 1:9).
Because the Lord already made all preparations for our sanctification. “And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth (John 17:19)” says our Savior. And “ By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.”(2 Peter 1:3 NIV)
Because at one point He even prayed about our sanctification “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” prayed the great High Priest before His departure from this world (John 17:17).
Because without sanctification we face great losses. Losses in the real life : “ But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:9-10). “As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1). And losses in the future: “ Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Revelation 3:11) and " If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Corinthians 3:15).
Because without sanctification we cannot see our Lord - without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews12:14).
So you have to decide for yourself, brothers and sisters – is sanctification required for a Christian. And do as your conscience tells you, before God, relying on His Word.
Justification of a sinner through Jesus Christ, rebirth through the Holy Spirit and the blessed adoption through Lord, Our Father – these are the dear gifts of God’s grace given as soon as a person turns to Christ. These gifts are so great and glorious that a person, unless he/she experienced them himself/herself, has a hard time imagining what it must be like to experience them. But these gifts are not the only gifts offered and given by God in the name of Jesus Christ.
ALAS, but for the majority of God’s children these gifts of divine charity are all that they need. Unquestionably, this is a direct result of the believers’ stop in spiritual growth or retreat from it. They are possessed by a frequently encountered misguided idea that since they are experiencing charity, they must have achieved a goal. Whereas charity isn’t an end or a goal, but the beginning of grace’s action in the lives of saved, as provided by God.
With time, as justification is comprehended, the person accepts and grasps Christ’s atonement by faith, as much as the Holy Spirit reveals this atonement, and as far as the person, through the Holy Spirit’s sanctification, can understand it.
So what follows? Atonement by Christ should be experienced, learned in its full measure, and preached in the life of the saved, for the atonement cannot and should not be only an object of faith, but should become a true reality in life and be evident to everyone, so that the world can realize that God has sent His Son for the world’s salvation.
We should be subordinate and dedicated to the Lord in all that we have and that we are, and our own life should be submerged in the life of our Lord, as it was with His disciples (Galatians 2:20). To reach such perfection is not a matter of a day, but of entire life, dedicated to it. This process is known in the Gospel as sanctification.
In the next chapter we’ll discuss three points: nature, goal and means of sanctification.
1. Nature of Sanctification
Before looking into the nature of sanctification, we must premise a short explanation of the question – when do we come across sanctification in the Bible?
If we read the New Testament carefully, we’ll see in that Lord speaks of sanctification of God’s children in two ways. On one hand, it speaks of sanctification as of something that already took place and nothing can be added to it. On another hand, it speaks of sanctification as of work that has not been completed yet, that needs to be continued.
Regarding the first interpretation, there is no doubt that complete holiness is a part of every saved person: "For God's will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time” (Hebrews 10:10 NLT), “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9), “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). "
Believers, in different passages of the Gospel, are called “Sanctified in Jesus Christ, called to be holy people” (Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 2 Corinthians 1:1). In the prospective epistles, it says: “saints in Ephesus, all saints in Jesus Christ in Colossae, and so on. If we recall that the Holy Spirit, through apostles, calls them such, then it should be clear to us that He, in doing so, considered sanctification as something that already happened.
On the other hand, however, the Holy Spirit speaks in such clear terms, that it is also clear that sanctification is a continuing process, until we reach perfection. And yet, while It speaks of the first interpretation of sanctification in passing, It speaks of the second meaning of sanctification with admonishment, demanding perfection.
Holy Spirit demands that we “work toward complete holiness because we fear God” (2 Corinthians 7:1) and tells the saints that “It is God's will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4), even demands that we strive for it, because without it we will not see our Lord (Hebrews 12:10-14). The Holy Spirit encourages us to seek sanctification, stating “just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
These and others passages in the Bible show, without any doubt, that in every believer sanctification should take place, which is of interest to the Holy Spirit and which has not concluded until it has reached His goal.
The question is: what is the foundation of differences between two interpretations of sanctification. Do they contradict each other? Not at all! It is simple – the accomplished sanctification has already taken place through Christ. It is something that Christ has done for us, just like atonement and justification (John 17:19, Romans 8:30).
On the other hand, the continuing sanctification is something that even the holiest of the holy believers has to strive for. Only when the Holy Spirit would be able to say about His work “It is done!”, would we be able to say the same. Then this kind of sanctification will be completed.
Praise to Lord that He reveals to us such truths! Praise to Lord that a saved sinner, having clothed into Jesus Christ is clothed not only into His righteousness, but also into His holiness. So that God Himself can look at a person as at a saint, as was said about the sinner in Corinth: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Everyone can see in this example that washing away of sins, sanctification and justification took place instantaneously. If it was otherwise, would a saved thief or someone in a similar situation have to undergo a lengthy process of continuing sanctification in order to enter the Kingdom of God? We see that for them sanctification happened instantaneously.
Also, prior to continuous sanctification, we are to be saved and instantaneously sanctified. It is as if the poorman was leading a prince’s lifestyle. Despite his attempts to receive prince’s rights and treatment, unless the king grants the title, they would be in vain. It is the same with a sinner, which has been elevated, in Christ, to the position of a God’s child "He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (Psalms 113:7-8).
While giving us this privilege, God also tells a person “Now you are sanctified in the Beloved, remain so and strive, as saints do, in your life, thoughts, and actions and so that between you and I there are no contradiction”.
So, we have instantaneous and continuous sanctifications.
It is very important to grasp these concepts and to begin differentiating between the two. Otherwise some consider themselves to be “sanctified in Jesus Christ” and sufficient in that, whereas the worm of sin continues to consume them. Other, more serious believers, strive for sanctification, but think prior to committing themselves to faith they must already be sanctified, they do not see that as soon as they are Christ’s – from the beginning they are “holiness in Christ”. So, they keep working on creating something that has already been created for them and done for them by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. They rely on themselves for holiness in their quest for God, instead of going to the Primary Source of it and submerging themselves in His sanctity. It is not surprising that such quests for sanctity inevitably end in failure.
How I wish that all God’s children, through the Holy Spirit, be prompted to learn the loftiness of the position, given to them in Christ, and could, through child-like faith, assume this position, and remain in such position, and grow in God’s sanctity, leaving behind their own spiritual poverty. This advanced sanctification is the privilege that we’ll discuss later on.
Regarding the nature of sanctification:
1. The word “sanctity” or “to sanctify” gives us a clue.
As we know, this word means – to separate, take out for a special purpose. When someone removes an object, he takes it out of a number of other similar objects, making this object special, singled out for a particular purpose. In a similar fashion, consecration is a removal of a person, with his soul, body and spirit, away from the temptations of this world, the Devil, and the person’s own flesh and egoism.
Consecration is an ever-increasing separation of God’s child from all other influences until they no longer have control over him. Only our Lord has power over that person, who belongs to God by right of creation, expiation and sanctification.
This isolation from everything that is not God’s and that does not serve God’s purpose is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. For example, when Moses had to separate the Israelites according to God’s command “Go to the people and have them sanctify themselves today and tomorrow. Make them wash their garments and be ready for the third day; for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people” (Exodus 19:10-11). Moses had the task of sanctifying the people, taking them away from their usual tasks. Moses had to make sure that all of people’s impurities are removed, so that God’s people are pleasing to Him and everyone could approach Jehovah. Three days were required to execute the task thoroughly and to accomplish this goal. After all, God is pure and can only approach those who are pure and unalloyed.
However, Israel also had to remove itself from all that is unholy for Lord’s sake. God Himself ordered His people “'Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 20:7). What Moses did with the Israelites, Israelites had to do in their own lives themselves. Their consecration could not have been imposed by Moses, it had to be done by their own volition.
Alas, how often do we want to forcibly remove people away from things condemned by God! How often our community wants to impose its will forcibly, through orders and resolutions!
However, what value does these actions have and what success? How valuable are they before God, to Whom these believers think they are making a favor by imposing their will on people who are not ready to give up certain things that seat deeply in their hearts?
Sometimes we can force our brothers and sisters in Christ to abandon their attachment to something, but deep down they nevertheless still hold them dear. The only thing we thus accomplished is we made them into hypocrites, their inner and outer man in conflict with each other. Thus, sanctification cannot take place on its own, without our own will and our own decision. Hence God’s demand for His people – “consecrate yourselves”.
Further we read that God appoints Himself as the Consecrator of Israel. In Leviticus 20:8 it says “I am the Lord, who makes you holy”. This wonderful singling out and separation of Israel from all unholy is, from start to finish, God’s work. He is Alpha and Omega and the process of sanctification takes place according to God’s Word and wish. God Himself has to enter your life with all His holiness and strength and remove you by His presence and His life from all that is unholy.
Sometime ago, Lord began this work by foreknowing His children through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, (1 Peter 1:2), then He expiated them and made them His own by Blood of Jesus Christ, then He called each one of them personally and renewed their heart through the Holy Spirit. Is there anything else butsanctification to follow that, leading to glorification?
Thus, we see three types of separation. – First of all, Moses, as the mediator of the Old Testament, had to undertake sanctification of Israel. This correlates to consecration of the New Testament mediator – Jesus, who is our mediator. Jesus was consecrated in place of His people (John 17:19), withdrawing from all things that intervened in His relationship with the Father.
Christ existed only for His Father. The Prince of this world came, but could not have power of Christ (John 14:30), the world was ready to recognize and crown Him as its king (John 6:15), but He shunned the world’s worship. His closest relatives sought to influence Him, but He avoided that (John 2:4, 7:3-6). Christ’s best disciples tried to bend Him to their point of view (Luke 9:54-56; Matthew 16:22-23), but He did not succumb to their way of thinking. He even renounced Himself and His own will (John 5:30). With this desire he came down from Heaven (John 6:38), left His glory in Heaven and honors on Earth. He even abandoned His life and allowed Himself to be crucified like a villain, in order for us to be sanctified.
His own words say so “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified”. And in Hebrews 13:12, it says “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood”.
If this sanctification was for us, as witnessed by the above passages in the Bible, then it is truly ours, just as we are truly in Christ.
If His Blood washed us and reconciled us with God, then in Christ we are separated from all that can compete with our allegiance to the Father. If only we knew that in this sanctification of Christ lays our own strength of separation from the unholy, to make our life and deeds resemble His!
We also see that Israel had to sanctify itself too. Christ’s work is perfect – nothing needs to be added to His sacrifice, “Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14).
Now it’s our turn – to share in His work, as if it is our legacy. We shouldn’t only share in His peace, joy, bliss, but also in His singling out and dedication to the Father. All of us – the beating of our heart, our wishes and desires should belong to Him.
Sometimes this realization creeps into the hearts of many God’s children and it is often uttered in prayers “Liberate me from this and that, take away this lust, deliver me from these passions!” and so on. I just hope that no one is deceived that somehow these desires/lusts/evils will be crushed by our Lord without our will or even against it!
Sanctify yourself, separate yourself from these temptations completely, from the bottom of your hear, do not allow even remembrance of them, hide yourself in your Lord, so that they cannot find you and follow you! (Psalm 26:5). Do not forget that God only wants what you voluntarily give up to him. Until then, while you still keep your temptations and lusts with you, even if at a distance, until you voluntarily give them up, they will rule you.
Even if our Lord forced you to change somehow, that would not change you not by one iota and you would continue to be same as before. That is why we read the admonishment to gouge our eye out, to throw away our hand, if they cause us to sin (Matthew 5:29-30). Also, we are beseeched “Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God» (Romans 6:13).
So, we have freedom over our body and after we are atoned by Lord’s Blood, we are not coerced to do anything we do not want. We truly belong to Him when we voluntarily give ourselves to him. We are admonished to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1) by One, who could easily make them a sacrifice for Himself, if He only wanted to. That is why we are entreated “let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1). And John says that those who have hope in Christ will be His likeness when He comes, that everyone is to purify themselves, just as He is pure (1 John 3:2-3).
So, as we see, sanctification and withdrawal from the world for God’s sake, cannot happen without us – we must participate in it with our heart, even if all that we do in that regard is to give ourselves completely to our Lord.
The most important thing is to see that God should be Alpha and Omega in our sanctification. This is most important for the realization of His will in our everyday life.
However, usually this is the most neglected aspect in the lives of believers, even those who seek sanctification. They often forget that sometimes we are called to do extraordinary things in our lives, things that are beyond our powers, and in order to see them through, we need God’s omnipotence and He himself must be in us.
If our Lord is not our Master and we want to accomplish God’s goals for us on our own, then we will fail and will be disgraced by the devil. We should not forget that we no longer live in times of Eden and that it is much more difficult to execute God’s will, as Satan tries to tempt us and resist us.
If Adam was unable to withstand Satan, being pure himself, then how do we see ourselves to resist him unless we have God’s assistance?
I think that even our limited reason grasps the futility of our undertaking, if there is no Christ on our side – “our competence comes from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5) and that is the only way for spiritual victory. "The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the worlda” (1 John4:4) – this is a clue to unshakable steadiness. Only He can preserve us and “to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 1:24).
Satan is very concerned with making sanctification a matter of your own hands, so that this act of faith and unequivocal trust of our Lord becomes a product of our own efforts and a matter of the Law.
So, what should we do, since sanctification cannot take place without us? – Withdraw your own efforts (be they an attempt to conquer one’s own sins or to fulfill God’s will), let God enter into your heart and your life, pass on all your concerns and work to Him, be fully dedicated to Him, and immediately obedient, and you will soon see God’s wonderful and great supremacy and sanctification of His Temple. He will " make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
We see wonderful examples of such dedication in the Old Testament, when Israel dedicated or sanctified anything for God, be it gold or silver, agricultural products, animals, even people. Let’s look at the Temple’s vessels – they were sacred. What made them sacred? They were made of the same material used in everyday ware of Israelites and heathens. So, it wasn’t the material or the form that gave them sanctity, but they were singled out for one particular purpose and were kept for God alone. They were dedicated and consecrated to serve only Him. He accepted them and they were used for thousands of years only to serve Him.
No one had the right to take them away or use them for another purpose, and woe befallen those who dared to disobey this Law. For sins of Israel, God allowed its holy vessels to be captured into the Babylon captivity. For decades Nebuchadnezzar treated them with respect, but his son Balthazar decided to use them in a celebration and defiled them. For that Balthazar was punished by God immediately. A hand appeared on the wall and wrote “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin” (Daniel 5).
So, let us make a conclusion – if Jehovah watched His inanimate vessels so jealously, wouldn’t He treasure purity of souls, expiated by Jesus Christ, much more?
Hence, each Child of God should see him/herself a vessel of God, singled out by the Son to serve His Father and singled out by that person, who have dedicated him/herself to God, renounced the world and found refuge in God. God wants this proverbial vessel to be in constant use by Him, throughout the life of the vessel. And what is more, God wants us to live and live accordingly, realizing that we are (and not only that we “ought to be”) the temple of Living God and that " If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
2. Let’s look at essence of sanctification, based on whom God sanctifies.
Sanctity according to Gospel belongs to God alone; no other sanctity exists without Him. 1 Samuel 2:2 reads “ No one is holy like the Lord”. Revelation 15:4 also praises “ Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy.” For “"Кто не убоится Тебя, Господи, и не прославит имени Твоего?
If that is so, then it is simply impossible for us to conjure up any sort of holiness on our own. Yet, if it is to be our holiness and to be part of our nature, this holiness must come only from Him, from His presence in us. He sanctifies us, occupying His temple – us.
Let’s recall several instances in the Bible referring to this – Moses’ burning bush in the desert, which Moses wanted to see up close, but was not allowed “Do not come any closer..Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:1-5). This was new to Moses, who, as a shepherd has traversed many miles of the desert, probably stepping into this land as well and yet he did not know about holiness of this place. What made this particular spot holy? – The answer is given to him “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (verse 8) – God has come down, made His dwelling there, and declared the place to be holy. Centuries before people could have declared this spot to be holy and fence it off, as people sometimes do, but this would not make the place any more holy. Only sanctification of the place by God, His personal presence made this land holy.
This example teaches that us that God Himself must live in us, we must become His, so that His holiness becomes ours and He protects our holiness, just like that time he protected the holiness of that spot in the desert.
Another example is the Tabernacle and, later on, the Temple. Tabernacle was made of material used by Israelites in everyday life (Exodus 25:1-9). There was nothing holy in it. Same true for the technique and method with which it was built. But when the Tabernacle and subsequently the Temple were dedicated to God, they became holy as He filled them and they became as holy as He is. Woe befell anyone unworthy that touched or entered them!
So, at what moment did they became holy? From the moment they were singled out to serve God, or when Moses/Solomon announced them to be holy? - Not at all! The Bible tells us “And so Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:33-35).
So, the Lord filled the Tabernacle, as if it was His dwelling. He spread His holiness over each and every object in it and made all of it instantaneously holy. With His holiness, theLord keeps all that is inappropriate out.
It’s the same way with the sanctification of the Temple – the priests were unable to find a place for them there, as His sanctity and glory filled the entire Temple(1 Kings 8:10-11). In such a fashion the Lord sanctifies everything that belongs to Him. That is the essence of sanctification. Only where He comes Himself, can we find holiness. That means, though, that everything belonging to us and our ego must disappear and only what is His will remain. If we vanish in Him, then He will be everything in us!
One additional example I would like to look at is the seventh day after the creation, which is an appropriate example of how God sanctifies. All days, without a doubt, are just as good, but nevertheless they are not holy. If they were, then there would be no sense to sanctify the seventh. So how did God sanctify the seventh day? – In the same manner as with the Tabernacle and the burning bush – He took possession of it, made it His. The same way as He made that place near Jericho holy, where Joshua met the commander of the army of the Lord. Lord’s ownership of that place and the personal presence of that commander sanctified the place (Joshua 5:13-15).
From all of that we can learn that sanctification without separation from the world/dedication to God cannot take place. Also if we single ourselves out to serve the Lord, that does not yet mean that we’ll experience sanctification.
Separation/withdrawal from the earthly things is a negative in sanctification; through it we abandon everything that is not godly or that is not God. Being God’s though, with God dwelling in a believer, is a positive of sanctification.
While through separation/withdrawal we empty ourselves, through God’s dwelling in us we become full. Only when the Lord enters us does renunciation/withdrawal from the world becomes real and accomplished. That’s why no God’s child should be satisfied with mere withdrawal from the world and think that this is indeed the sanctification, desired by our Lord.
Each one of you know from the personal experience, that sometimes we liberate ourselves and separate ourselves from things that control us. We do it decisively, going deeper and deeper to the root of our problems, but without giving ourselves to Him and His holiness. Our iron will and our decisiveness are what drives it and we think that we are achieving something miraculous. Yet we do not see that it is ourselves and not God who is doing it. So, what we have is a caricature of sanctification, which has been often found in monasteries or in the flight to the desert.
Hence, only when Christ becomes the true Master of our will and He is finally in charge of our thinking, reasoning, feeling, behavior, do we finally find sanctity in our everyday and spiritual life.
So, let us observe that we are not only Christ’s expiated possession, but that we are also possession singled out for Christ and separated from everything that challenges that connection with Christ. More than that, each one of us should be clear in his mind about one thing – does Christ really dwells in us and is our spirit, soul and body filled with His presence? In everyday life it is possible for someone to call a built/bought house one’s own, even if that person doesn’t live there. Most of the time in such instances others live there and they run the house. So the house is under an owner’s name, but does not reflect the owner. So, even if the owner is a respectable man, but the house is rented to disreputable people, the owner’s good name will not save the reputation of the house.
The same can be said about some believers expiated by God, who are called by His name but where God cannot dwell and rule, as He wishes. Unfortunately, if one looks, one can find a lot of rabble inside these people. And that situation continues from yearto year! Alas! The rabble takes place of what should be occupied by the Holy Spirit. – There, in one corner, is jealousy, there – avarice, in another corner – anger, in another pride, etc. Everywhere one can see the old sinner, with his hypocrisy, egoism, ambition. These ugly vestiges of the past thrust their heads out from time to time, showing that this person, and not God, is the master of this domain and they witness about lack of sanctity in the person’s life.
I hope these God’s children do not find themselves like the millionaire, who lived happily and extravagantly in the most beautiful part of town. He was acquiring property in the city, house by house, and almost reached his goal. Only a small cottage remained and the millionaire offered to buy it. The owner refuses to sell, despite the fact that the millionaire offers to pay twice, three-times the price. Without success! The owner continued to refuse to sell the house! The rich man was forced to retreat. From that point one, the owner of the small cottage was teasing the millionaire every time they saw each other – “ So, the two of us are the owners of this town, eh?”
The same way with our Lord – should He share us with a small vestige of our sins, our lusts?
Dear brother, sister – sanctify yourself, dedicate yourself fully to Christ and be always watchful that the devil does not find his way back into your heart, soul and body! Make sure that they are completely His.
After all, Christ’s expiation has just one great goal – to reconcile the man with God. That means reconciliation between them, unification of God and man into one. Already in the Old Testament we read “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Leviticus 26:12).
In the New Testament, this God’s desire comes to its realization. God wants to not only walk among His people, but He wants to dwell in the believersthrough Jesus Christ. “I in them and you in me” (John 17:23) was the prayer of the High Priest. “If a man remains in me and I in him” (John 15:4-5) – was the only condition of Christ in order for us to bear fruit. "On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:20). “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23) was His promise to those, who are completely obedient to Him. “And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory” (Colossians 1:27) – for that reason the search for “Is there Christ in you?” important and gives us an idea if we are on the correct path to our Lord (2 Corinthians 13:5).
So, true sanctification and holiness can be found only where God Himself is present, where man and God live in harmony with each other, and where God is in everything and RULES over everything.
Now, let’s direct our attention to another topic – goal of sanctification.
2. Goal of Sanctification
Each task, each undertaking, if it is to be realized and to be successful, must have a definite goal. If is absent, then this enterprise’s participants are in trouble – they do not know whether they are heading in the right direction, if they are approaching their goal or moving further away from it.
All of their energy, instead of being usefully spent, hinders their progress. This results in lack of motivation, faintheartedness, and disorientation. Many of God’s children remain spiritually uncertain and ignorant of God wants to achieve in them, even after many years of living as believers.
More than that – many preachers and church leaders do not know neither God’ goal for them, nor for their congregations.
And then there are some who do have an idea of God’s goal, but they pursue it so dispassionately, that one can conclude that they do not treat this God’s purpose for His children seriously.
While much work is done to bring about new conversions, very little work is done with those who already converted. As a result, we see a loss for the Church –as the for the majority of the believers the painful life of faith becomes a rule, the poignancy of the spirit weakens with each passing year, and intimacy with this world increases and takes root, both in lives of individual believers and in the life of the congregation.
That is why it is important to know God’s purpose for us, to constantly keep it in mind, and moreover – to map our life path in such fashion, that we can actually reach it (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Many think that God’s purpose for us is more or less a salvation. And since this is their only expectation, they ask with surprise “Isn’t it all that we need? After all, didn’t we reach what the saints have reached: we are so blessed not because of our deeds, but because of God’s mercy.”
This type of attitude, which many take on, shows only vanity, which is very pitiful. They do not ask themselves whether God has achieved in them everything that He has a right to. Does their life glorify Him and is it worth the price that God’s Son paid for them?
If these believers only came to Christ for the purpose of finding security in Him, then of course they live fully satisfied, believing that they have found it.
Their redemption is only a form of insurance from eternal damnation. If only these believers would seek God’s purpose and goal for them and were ready to fulfill them!
When we speak of the goal of sanctification, we mean that those redeemed are to accept God’s goal as their own.
Discord with God in this matter can ruin the entire undertaking and to bring believers only disappointment and harm (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
Given that, would any believer want to continue being apathetic to God’s purpose for believers?
Now, what can be said about this Divine purpose? Can it be expressed in just few sentences?
True – with the help of one or another passage in the Gospel this can be achieved, but it would not be helpful to many. Many still lack spiritual maturity. The goal of consecration progresses along with our spiritual growth.
At the same time, I do not want to somehow imply that God does not already have a definite and definitive purpose of our salvation. No, quite to the contrary, He pointed that out clearly and powerfully in His Word, so that everyone can read it and see it.
But, at the same time, I mean to say that while that goal of His has been imprinted in His Book for centuries till the end of times, God nevertheless reveals it to us layer by layer, step by step, as our loyalty and our obedience to Him grows (2 Peter 1:3-8).
If that is so, then there are “babes”, “adolescents” and “mature men” in spirituality. The first, in comparison to the last, have smaller goals and are perhaps in awe of the goals by the last. Some of beginners in faith might even look at more ambitious spiritual goals as unachievable and might even turn away from them at first.
But if believers learn to ask and strive for greater spiritual growth, sanctification, understanding and maturity, then our Lord will lead them toward that goal. This can be compared with mountain climbing. – Once a climber reaches one height, the person climbs one more, only to find another one above it. In such a way, the climber reaches the top of the mountain.
But we must keep in mind not to become intimidated by obstacles so as not to loose heart as we walked down our life’s path. Instead, I hope that with each achieved height we experience bliss. At first we are happy merely in realization that we are on the Lord’ path; then we experience that He acts in us powerfully. And in such a way, we advance from one achievement to another. But first, we must start with bottom step and move upwards. Hence, God’s intention-
1) to liberate us from sin in action “He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21, NIV). This is the first thing that is said on the first page of the New Testament about our Redeemer before he is even born. It is important to note that the Gospel does not say “He will save sinners from their sins”. – We know that he does that too, but sin has terrible power over people and wants to enslave even Christ’s children.
Praise our Lord – here we have the good news. His redemption focuses on liberating His people from sin. His people and sin, and not just His people and condemnation of sin or damnation of sin must be separated, if the people are truly saved by their Redeemer. This is what Paul understood as he wrote” If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!” (Galatians 2:17)
We see that apostle Paul indignantly rejects a notion that those justified by grace can continue living in sin, as that would imply that Christ encourages sin, supporting it through His grace. So, if a believer can ignore the vile/unholy in one’s life, allow it to exist, then that person makes the Lord into the servant of sin
"Sinning? – I shouldn’t or won’t sin ever again!” say some God’s children just after being justified and liberated from sin, when our Savior cleansed him/her completely. A person who says something like that does not know that sin is a multihead monster. But wasn’t this sentiment aimed in the right direction, along the lines of the Apostle’s “Absolutely not!”? - Wasn’t this sentiment in full agreement with the warning given by our Lord and the Teacher of many, whose bodies and souls were healed for the rest of their lives, when Не declared “See you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you”(John 5:14). Or, as Lord said to the fallen “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). Furthermore, wasn’t the sentiment an echo of Apostle Paul “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”(Romans 6:2).
The sentiment is in agreement with the God’s goal to see us free from sin. In this way our Lord has ordained that believers, from the first step, seek sanctification. If only God’s children would continue to walk in Christ as they promised the first day of their redemption (Colossians 2:6)!
We stated previously that God truly and practically wants to liberate us from sin. But how far is He willing to go?” – I often hear from others. Well, if you are a believer, put up that limit yourself, based on how far, you think, God is willing to tolerate sin in His Children, or how far in freedom He would like to see His children. I am convinced that none of you would suppose that God would like to see even a whisper of sin in His children.
Hence, if this is God’s purpose in His redemption through Christ, then you too must make it your purpose. But instead of our own conclusions, let’s look to what God’s Word says on the topic. God through His apostle tells us that Jesus Christ gave Himself for us. And if we ask why, we are told “to redeem us from all wickedness” (Titus 2:14).
God tells us, time and time again, that along with Christ we died for sin (Romans 6:2, 5:11), that we are freed from it, and that the law of sin and death has no hold over us, if we live in Christ through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:2). These truths are for us, but they become true only when we accept them in faith. And what is God’s purpose for this? – It is “so that just as sin reigned in death , so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord” (Romans 5:21). To whom this relates and how this reign is come about is explained in another, earlier verse: "how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).
What should be practical consequences of the redemption’s acceptance? – purification from everything that contaminates body and spirit (2 Corinthians 7:1); not touching unclean things (2 Corinthians 6:17); crucification of the sinful nature with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24); doing away with the body of sin that we should no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6); guarding ourselves from sin entering our lives, be it through our eyes or our hands (Matthew 5:29-30; Marc 9:45).
No one among us would deny that it is God’s intention that His Church is to be glorified. And would this glory consist of? This is explained in Ephesians 5:27: “without a stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless”.
Don’t you want to help in forming such Church? If so, then you should not have a stain or a blemish, as your sins constitute the sins of the Church. Then how can God achieve His intention?
Then we are told that we are sent to this world so that we are “without fault in a crooked and depraved generation” (Philippians 2:15). We are to anticipate the coming of our Lord in which fashion? – “blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thessalonians 3:13). So, we are to come before him blameless and at peace with him. (2 Peter 3:14).
That same Gospel says further that “everyone, who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). Prior to being able to see Him “just He is”, there must be purification. If we do not consider God’s Word as a document of empty or highfalutin ideas, but consider it a true and firm promise (Psalm 119:38). If we have child-like faith that God says what He believes in, then from the above mentioned passages and many more in the Bible we see that God’s purpose in redemption was to completely separate us from all kinds of sin (1Thessalonians 5:22).
We should add here what our dear departed brother Spurgeon understood of the above in his work “All of Grace”: "Dear friend, salvation would be a sad, incomplete act, if it would not cover even that part of our sinful nature. Just as we were cleansed, we were forgiven. Justification without sanctification would not have been salvation. It would have declared a leper to be clean and would leave him to die from his disease; it would pardon a rebel and would allow him to remain the enemy of his sovereign; it would take away consequences, but would not address the cause, and that would leave us with an endless and hopeless task.. Let’s remember that Jesus Christ came to conquer sin in three ways. He came to liberate us from the punishment of sin, from the power of sin, and finally from the presence of sin. In the same instant as the power of sin is destroyed, we are well on our way to liberate ourselves from the presence of sin.” You know that “Jesus came to take away our sins” (1 John 3:5).
2. Then God’s second intent and purpose – to have us as His property. - "For the people of Israel belong to the LORD; Jacob is his special possession" (Deuteronomy 32:9; Jeremiah 10:16); "You are not your own" (1 Corinthians 6:19); "out of all nations you will be my treasured possession" (Exodus 19:5). "until the redemption of those who are God's possession" (Ephesians 1:14); "He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 2:14); "to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:14). There are many such passages in the Gospel.
So what do they signify for us? – They state the He redeemed us for Himself. Unfortunately, many often remain with a lop-sided and, if I may say so, self-serving opinion that redemption consists only of liberation from evil and eternal damnation and that it is meant for our pleasure and happiness. They do not grasp the full truth that Christ redeemed us to return us to His Father (1 Peter 3:18). God wanted to once again have possession of his property and to be part of each of His children’s lives. Then, we wouldn’t have anything that we could call our own. We belong to Him in manifold way; but only sanctification reveals whether we recognize our complete belonging to Him, whether we put everything that we are, that we have, and that we are capable of in the worship to Him.
True sanctification makes us loyal guards over ourselves, our property, which does not belong to us, but for which we’ll hold account before Him. Every time we appropriate that property and improperly use it; every time we give in to wrong urges and desires, we are disloyal to the Lord. Only true sanctification gives God full control over us once again. If only His children would fully recognize this and be ready to be His completely!
As God’s property, we are filled with talents and riches which are not only in us but which can be developed in us further on daily basis. At some point they were taken away from their lawful Owner and used by us to please ourselves, our relatives, to satisfy our desires, our sinful nature, and the devil. But eventually, if we ourselves come back to the Lord, then all our riches and talents must be returned to Him too.
One of these treasures if our own life. If we are redeemed by our Lord, then our life belongs to Him. But is it so in reality? Are you joyous of every breath you take, because you can give it to our Lord, who gave it in the first place? Do you deny all claims to your life, regardless of where they come from and even if you agree with them, so that you can satisfy only His claims? Please know, that He “he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15). "No longer for themselves," – how do you like this limitation on one’s life? Not one day, nor one hour, nor half an hour must belong to you, but to Him, Who gave His life for you and thus bought ownership of you and your life.
Please make His goal into yours “for you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do" (1 Peter 4:3). But what is it that pagans choose to do? – That we can see in Peter, who, although he was’t a pagan and had, seemingly, good motives, pushed our Lord to say: "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men" (Matthew 16:23). Hence, all that is not God’s, is that of men and our Lord sees Satan behind it.
Another treasure is our valuable time. From the moment we are God’s, our time is no longer ours. For every hour given by Him is a treasure to be used as He wishes. That’s why not only Sunday, but Monday, Tuesday and every other day should be our Lord’s. There should be no days that you merely waste, or use only for your purposes. Please allow that your precious time is also returned to its rightful Owner, whereas you are merely a steward. If you do so, you live in sanctification and are nearing His goal.
And do you know that your property is not yours at all? Perhaps you know that, but you do not practice it. Yes, indeed, we manage it and control it without consulting with its true Owner. How many times have we used it without God being involved at all? How many times we abstain from doing something that He would have, and how many plans to do something as if you are the only master and not He! If that wouldn’t be so among many of God’s stewards, then there wouldn’t be any need for means on the fast field of God’s Kingdom. In sanctification of the redeemed God’s goals is to liberate from Pharaoh’s enslavement (Exodus 10:24-26).
To Him belong our energy, our health, our body, our mind, our children, and everything that He gave us. If only our lips would praise Him, our eyes were directed to Him, our hands were only doing His work, our ears heard only His voice, and our feet only walked down His path! Until this happens, His rights of ownership suffer, which we know shouldn’t happen. For this reason every child of God, may you strive to actually and fully give yourself and your life up to God, as it is God’s. That, and nothing else, is His purpose in sanctification.
3. Furthermore, God’s purpose is that Christ relives His own life in us. Many think that sanctification is the same as striving for morals among respectable people.Morality, after all, has a purpose to make a person better. Many work on themselves to achieve that goal. Here and there they are able, by their own efforts and will, to block a harmful urge or to develop a fine quality. However, despite these efforts being praiseworthy, they are not what our Lord in Christ had in mind for us. He cannot use anything from our own efforts, energy and our strong will, because they, when in action, exclude Him and His actions. Or at least that creates an impression that they merely employ God’s assistance. That does not require redemption in Christ.
We all know very well that this path is taken by all honorable heathens and all serious moral people, who achieve some good without every knowing Jesus Christ. All these good acts, even if achieved by God’s children in the similar fashion, will be dead deeds – wood, straw. Perhaps they would even be a sin, which would require washing by Christ’s blood (Hebrews 9:14), since when these acts were committed, our own life did not allow Christ’s life to act in us.
Our Father wants that living Christ would relive in us His own life. Only then would we be able to understand Christ’s sayings about Him being in us and understand many of his parables, through which he wanted to convey this truth. Christ wants, as He says Himself, that His life permeates ours, as the life of the vine penetrates branches and manifests in buds, flowers and fruit (John 15:1-15). "As bread that came down from heaven.", He wants to be in us as the only bread that is assimilated and combined with the person who eats it, so that we inherit life with Him (John 6:48-54).
Christ wants that we live and act through Him, as He lived and acted through His Father (John 6:57). And as the same life force is in the head and body members, so should His life be in us (Colossians 2:19; Ephesians4:15-16). This is what the Apostle Paul meant when saying: "and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20), or - "For to me, to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21), or "so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body" (2 Corinthians 4:10-11),или "with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me" (Colossians 1:29), and so on.
As long as the Christians live by their own efforts, maintaining their own morality by fulfilling their duties, maintaining their level of respectability and godliness –they do not live the life of sanctification, but the “life of your hand” (Isaiah 57:10). Perhapstehre is a lot of activity and work, with results that some call “fruits of labor”, but they are not so, because they do not come from Christ. "your fruitfulness comes from me" (Hosea 14:8), and "filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:11). This is God’s way in sanctification; Christ must be allowed to bear fruit in us through His life, as the grape vine gives sap to its branches. This is exactly what God’s purpose is, for that reason make it yours and don’t impede Him through the life of your hand, you must become less, so that He might become greater (John 3:30) and so that you might say: He is all and in all of me!
4. Even more important is another of God’s purposes – to be like our Lord. He is our Savior, as well as an example to us. He is our Standard, which all God’s children must emulate. It is amazing how clearly this is stated in the Gospel, and yet a complete mystery to many of God’s children. Some even look to such idea with fear, as if it is a heresy. And truly, if our Lord would not say so Himself in His Book, no man would arrive to this idea himself. But He states clearly through His Apostle: "For those God foreknew he also predestined". Predestined for what purpose? – “to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:29).
Here we see that “foreknowledge” coincides with predestination to be like Christ. God, the Father, in such a way, has, from the beginning, predestined this goal for us; it has been before His eyes as the eternity passed by. He started where we, saved, now must finish. He saw Christ; He saw our great Standard; and He saw us, even though we did not yet exist, and determined that we are to reach Him.
Now many hope to be like Him, when they will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). However, they suppose that death, or that great moment of rapture, if they live long enough to witness it, will suddenly transform them into His likeness, regardless of their actions after the conversion. May no one be deceived, as if that was true, then apostle Paul was acting, to be it politely, unwisely, worrying so much about Galatians, who were, as he put it “the pains of childbirth” until Christ is formed in them (Galatians 4:19).
For what purpose were those recurring pains of childbirth for the sake of being in Christ’s likeness, if that was to happen at any rate? We see that this servant of God understood, that Christ’s likeness is to take form here; and as this was not happening among Galatians, he was suffering tremendously.
To Ephesians apostle Paul preaches about achievement of maturity, “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). This points to the process of growth here, on Earth, and both of quoted passages mean not just individuals, but all those redeemed, without an exception.
In Colossians 3:10-11 Apostle Paul talks about a new man. Blessed is the man who knows that he put on His self! But is it all that is necessary? Please not, that this passage talks of a constant change in a man; so if everything goes well with our spiritual growth, we are constantly renewed. Twice we are pointed to the wonderful Standard, which that man should aim for. In one instance it is mentioned “in the image of its Creator”, in another – “Christ is all, and is in all”.
Was it said only for apostles or their disciples? It seems the holy writer of these verses had nothing like that in mind when he wrote: “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free,” – in another words: no nationality, religion, level of education or social status should give exception, but Christ should be all and in all.
In another passage apostle Paul gives another description to this glorious change: “And we…being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Likeness of Christ in life, actions, and deeds; likeness of Christ in joy and suffering; likeness of Christ in words and thoughts, as “your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5) – this is what God wants for us. He wants that all His children finally learn this and make it their goal, as God made it His goal.
5. Regarding God’s purpose for His redeemed, we can go a step further. We can point out His final goal – to bring up a bride for Christ, His Son. However on this account may the Holy Spirit Himself gently brings each soul closer to understanding the topic. May He show each soul what that means in regard to the One, Who sits on the throne of greatness, the Lord of all that is on Earth and in Heaven, Who soon will come Himself, to take His and to acknowledge them, as the first Adam acknowledged his wife, made from his flesh, so as to accept them from God the Father, as One’s own property, from His flesh and from His bones (Ephesians 5:30-32).
If this is our fate, then it is necessary to reach likeness with the Lamb, so that we too would become lambs, in all Christ-like as He can have only a Bride in His likeness. Are we ready in humility and meekness to remain silent as a lamb, even if we are lead to our death, and be silent before those cutting us and follow the Lamb wherever He goes?
If so, then our transformation into His image truly moves forth; sanctification moves toward perfection, and we can promise every soul on this path that it won’t be disappointed.
Here I also want to note my desire before God that all my brothers and sisters in Christ are given “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that they may know him better, and that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened in order that they may know the hope to which he has called them” (Ephesians 1:17-18).
We should know our glorious calling and our final goal well, and grow in our desire "to make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). If our sight is fastened to this goal, then we should remain committed to it and press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us (Philippians 3:12). May we, upon our above discourse on the goal of sanctification, follow apostle Paul in the daily practice of “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:13-14).