Positive Sanctification - They Key To Christian Maturity, Part 1

1Th 4:3-4 "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor." Sanctification - GK def. "Purification; the state of purity; consecration; holiness". This Greek word is found ten times in New Testament, and is translated "holiness" five times, and "sanctification" five times. In English, the suffix "-fication" means "to make" (i.e. Clarification means "to make clear"). "Sanct" from where we get "Saint" means sacred, pure, holy. So, Sanctification means to make holy.
Of the ten times this word is used, seven of those times it is spoken as a present, ongoing action (Rom 6:19, 22; 1Thess 4:3, 4, 7; 1Tim 2:15, Heb 12:14) - something we are to continue in, follow after and yield to. The other three verses speak of a finished work (1Cor 1:30, 2Thess 2:13, 1Pt 1:2). What does this mean? It means: We are sanctified; we are being sanctified; we will be sanctified, aka "glorified". Christ in us (spiritual sanctification) is the hope of glory (Col 1:27, Rom 5:1-2). Hope is future. It is an expectation of something good. We are sanctified in spirit upon conversion (the new birth); we are being sanctified in soul - daily being shaped and molded into the image of Jesus in our mind, will, emotions, attitude, reason, speech, etc.; and we will be completely sanctified in body at the resurrection, when we receive an eternal, incorruptible body like that of Jesus (Philp 3:20-21). This is glorification.
Why does Paul speak of glorification in the past tense in Rom 8:29-30? Because if one is predestined; and called; and justified in spirit; and (by implication - vs. 14) being sanctified in soul - then glorification must be the result. In other words, this final step is certain to come to pass in the true Believer. It is our blessed assurance.
Here are some other verses that speak of sanctification as a finished, past tense work (1Cor 1:2, 6:11, Heb 2:11, 10:10, 10:14, Jude 1:1). Here are some verses that speak of sanctification as a continual process (1Thess 5:23, 1Pt 3:15, Eph 5:26). You will notice that in Eph 5:26, it is the washing of the Word that sanctifies and cleanses continually. Water immersion (baptism) symbolizes the spiritual reality of our being immersed into the Church of Jesus - His body. Like the High Priest of the Old Testament, this initial washing wasn't repeated. It was one time. However, the washing of the feet was often, for he would pick up the dirt of the world as he went about his daily business. As Believers, we are spiritually cleansed by the Blood of Jesus; but we must continually wash our minds with the Word of God. This is the ongoing sanctification process. As a baby is prepared nine months for the world it will come into, so we are being prepared in this life for the world to come.
So, in this study, we will be focusing on the continual aspect or the ongoing process of sanctification taking place in our soul and body. When we speak of the positive and negative, we do not use the word "negative" as something bad or wrong, but only as a "shalt not" or "don't do". And we use the word "positive" in the sense of "do this - what you should do". For instance, in Eph 4:28, it says, "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs." So, the negative is "don't steal", but the positive is, "Work, that you may have to give".
While the negative is necessary, it does not necessarily promote transformation. The positive is what transforms. You see, I can stop stealing, without working and giving. It's good I no longer steal, but if I'm not a giver, I'm not maturing in Christ. Mature Christians are givers, because Jesus is a giver. It's being like Him. Not only does Jesus not steal, but He also gives. This is what we mean by "positive sanctification". It's a matter of focus. It is focusing on what I ought to be doing, versus only focusing on what I shouldn't do.
Another example is Eph 5:18, which tells us to not be drunk, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Drunkenness is a sin. We ought not get drunk. However, I can stop getting drunk, and still not be filled with the Spirit. You see, to grow and mature in the faith, I must be filled with Spirit. This is the positive command. If we grab hold of this truth, it will turn the Christian walk into a joy instead of a drudgery. It will become everything we get to do, instead of everything we can't do. There is much more to say on this. Next week, Lord willing, we will continue. Selah.

Jesus Christ Part 5

Would you like to meet my Savior, Jesus, the Great High Priest?
Hebrews 4:14-16 & Hebrews 5:1-10
14 "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:14-16
1 "For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
"You are my Son,
today I have begotten you";
6 as he says also in another place,
"You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek."
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek."
I'm still studying God's Word so I can introduce Jesus Christ to someone who challenged me. How would you introduce Jesus Christ to your friend, since we can't actually see Him? We only have God's Word. (And I'm so thankful we do). Funny, if you are being introduced to someone face to face, you really don't know that person, even though you can see them. All you have are your own judgmental thoughts based on the person's appearance and dress, along with whatever your friend is telling you, which may not be true. They may have many accolades and accomplishments, but certainly not miracles! If you believe what you read in text books, what's different from that to the word of God? Text books were written by individuals and we can't always verify if they're telling truth. And, first opinions are worthy, but not always true to character.
Even though we can't see our Lord, Jesus, we have God's Word, and we know it's true because we've seen so many prophecies fulfilled (and being fulfilled today) that prove it's true.
Jesus was not only the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world, but He was also the Great High Priest. How can He be both? How can He have no beginning and no end? How can He be the Son of God and Son of Man? There are just some things about Christianity that we humans can't figure out. Unfortunately, some people will not believe something if they can't figure it out. As if their mental intellect is the best there is! There is always someone better than ourselves, right?
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9
Have you ever "just known something" in your heart? When you hear God's Word preached to you, it sears your heart, and you feel it. You know in your heart that the message is for you, and it quickens your spirit. And when you receive Jesus you're truly happy. You feel joy unspeakable, and the burdens that you were carrying are lifted from you, and for myself, I actually felt freedom! A person really does feel reborn, as if they have a new lease on life. And that may be the spiritual rebirth.
John 3:1-8 "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God:for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth:so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Put Off & Put on

I encourage you to read Eph 4:17-24. Verses 22-24 say, "That ye put off (cast off, lay aside) concerning the former conversation (behavior, conduct) the old man (nature), which is corrupt (ruined, defiled) according to the deceitful lusts (desires); And be renewed (renovated, reformed) in the spirit of your mind (be spiritually minded); And that ye put on (be clothed with) the new man (nature), which after (according to) God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
The illustration here is referring to a garment. The old man (corrupt nature) and his deeds (works of the flesh) are like an old, filthy, stinking defiled garment that we are to cast off. The new man (new nature) and his deeds (the fruits of the spirit) are to be put on, like a bright, shining, spotless and pure robe. As we learned last week, the remnants of the corrupt nature still abide in the flesh, even after conversion. However, the old man has been dethroned. While he exists, he doesn't reign supreme (Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world). The old man has been put off, but not put out entirely; and will remain as long as we are in these mortal bodies.
Again, we are to "put off" the old man and his corrupt deeds. We are to mortify the deeds of the flesh (Col 3:5-9). This obviously doesn't mean we are to kill the flesh, as in suicide; but rather, the deeds of the flesh. Let us therefore "cast off" the deeds of darkness (Rom 13:12). Let us "lay aside" every weight and besetting sin (Heb 12:1). Let us "put away" the corrupt conduct (Eph 4:25). Let us "lay aside" all evil, bitterness, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking (1Pt 2:1). Let us "lay apart" all filthiness and abundance of wickedness (Jam 1:21). We are to offer our bodies (in which dwells the corrupt nature) a living sacrifice to God, and not be conformed to this world (in which the corrupt nature reigns), but be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:1-2). As in 1Pt 2:2 and Jam 1:21, being students of God's Word will enable us to have victory over the old man.
The "putting off" of the old man is only half the equation. We are then to "put on" the new man (nature). The new man, and his deeds, are righteous and truly holy (Eph 4:24). Let us "put on" the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation (1Thess 5:8). Let us "put on" the armor of light and walk honestly. Let us "put on" the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh (Rom 13:12-14).
We must understand the difference between the one-time "putting on" of the Lord Jesus (conversion); and the continual "putting on" of the new man, in our daily lives. The first speaks of justification, and the second of sanctification. In the same manner, we once "put off" the old man at conversion; but continually "put off" the old man daily. The second is based on the first. We first put on Christ, and then continually put on Christ. We first put off the old nature, and continually put off the old nature.
When you are born again, your spirit is joined with the Lord's Spirit, and you become a new creation (Gal 3:26-27). You "put on" the new man (Col 3:10). You are spiritually regenerated, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Afterwards, you renew your mind in God's Word, and by yielding to the Word and the Spirit, you continually "put on" the new man (Col 3:12).
The new creation in Christ is told, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are under grace" (Rom 6:12-14). If sin (the flesh; the old man; the old nature) has gained the ascendancy in some area of your life, it is because you have yielded to the flesh, and not the Spirit. It does not "legally" have the reign - it is given the reign. "Sin shall not have dominion over you". We are told not to yield to sin. This means sin does not have dominion. It must be given dominion. Why is this so important to know?
Because when we know and understand that Jesus has dealt with our sins and carried them away, and that Jesus has made us free indeed; then we will view the corrupt nature in it's proper light. It does not reign supreme. It does not have dominion. We have the power over it. Satan is a master identity thief. He wants to steal our identity in Christ, and deceive us into identifying with the flesh. Then we will believe the lie, that sin has dominion over us. We must stand unmovable on this: "Sin does not have dominion over me"! That is God's Word. Say it a million tines, until it's reality to you.
Col 2:6-7 summarizes this lesson: "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." As we have received Jesus (salvation), so now walk in Him (be continually clothed with His nature and deeds). May the salvation of the spirit be continually walked out in our soul and flesh. Selah.

Anger and Bitterness

Are you angry or bitter towards someone? Do you find yourself going about your daily duties mulling over an incident that happened between you and someone else? Is there something that is eating at you that you can't seem to shake?
That happens to everyone, you know. But some of us have figured out how to shake it, and some just don't want to! I don't know what can be gained by rehashing an incident over and over in our minds, but sometimes it takes a while to shake something off. The sooner we do, the better we feel! That other person you are angry at has probably beat you at letting it go!
The word anger comes up 228 times in my bible concordance. God got angry a lot. We can get angry also, but we have to learn to let it go, and not sin when we are angry, and forgive everyone, so we don't become bitter.
Psalms 4:4 "Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah"
This is really good advice! When we get angry we need to go to our room, on our bed, and be silent! That way we won't sin and won't say (or do) something we will regret! Stay there until after we've pondered it in our heart, and hopefully we'll have sense enough to talk to God about it! I was always taught to count to ten and then let 'em have it!
Ephesians 4:26-32 "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Things are always coming up to cause us to be angry with someone, but we've got to forgive!
Jesus said "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:12-15
It's that persecution we suffer, which is also the way God tests us (or tries us), and we all have opportunities to handle situations the way God teaches us through His Word.
Hebrews 12:14-17 "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected:for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."
Why dwell on unhappy memories when you can enjoy a new day full of joy? Joy? "What joy?" you may ask. Well, sometimes enjoying life is a choice we must make. We can choose to flip the coin over, and look at the other side. We all have something to be grateful for, and when we remember to thank the One who blessed us with it, well, He just may decide to bless us even more!
I have personalized the following verse. I say "This is the day the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it." I will look for the positive and if it's hard to see, I cry out to Jesus, and am just glad I can call on Him! I rejoice that I know Him and His Spirit lives in me!
"This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Twinkies and the Gospel

As a school administrator I was always looking for ways to recognize accomplishment. It was relatively easy in a school of 340 students but it became somewhat more difficult in a school of 3,200. Over the years, I had experience in both settings and everything in-between.
Of course, there was always a place for formal recognition of the people who made you look good—such things as public praise in various and sundry meetings and conferences, certificates of appreciation, plaques, trophies, coffee cups and other mementos. But most often I just needed something that would quietly let a person know that he or she was appreciated for some little act of kindness; for going above and beyond the call of duty in service to a student, a colleague or a parent, or sometimes an employee might just be in need of a little boost to his or her morale. Whatever the case, I needed something that would motivate but that was quick and easy to administer; hence, the Hostess Twinkie.
Now, a Twinkie, in and of itself, is not really all that much to write home about. It is loaded with an abundance of empty calories. And yet, it comes bundled up in a soft coating of angel food cake filled with a squirt of a delectable, velvety, vanilla-cream filling. I have always liked them and remember when you could buy a set of two for fourteen cents.
At any rate, I got into the habit of placing a Twinkie in the mailbox or on the desk of an employee to whom I wished to give a pat on the back. When they got one in that manner, they knew from whence it came and most often they knew what they had done to deserve it. Nothing more had to be said. Some quickly consumed the little tidbits in the privacy of their offices or classrooms. Others showed them off to colleagues in order to brag about having received one from "the boss." Others simply hoarded them away so they would have something to smile at each time they encountered one in a drawer or closet.
Several years ago, the course of study for my Sunday school class was the New Testament. I wondered how I might motivate each of my "students" to read the entire New Testament from cover to cover before the end of the year. As I pondered alternatives, the old Twinkie idea came to mind. I decided to see if that small but delightful little token of appreciation could be turned into a motivator of adults--about 40 of them. I was not disappointed.
On the first day of class, I wrote "Twinkie" on the blackboard but did not elaborate. When I finally relented to their queries, I explained that each of them who read the entire New Testament before the end of the year would receive a Twinkie from the teacher. Much to my delight, they seemed to relish the idea. (One sister looked at her neighbor and asked, "What's a Twinkie?")
Of course, the real reward for reading and searching the scriptures is to be found in the act itself—it is its own reward. To those who know the value of the scriptures and the sheer joy, knowledge and understanding that derive from the reading of them, no outside motivator is needed—not a Twinkie, not a certificate, not a trophy.
The scriptures are a fountain of knowledge that never runs dry. There is always something new to learn and to feel in every verse. In faith we hold to the promise that if we seek we shall find.
And yet sometimes we need a reminder in order to stay on target and it might be a tool, such as the lowly Twinkie, that keeps us on track and provides the motivation needed to experience the real joys of life.
(Comments? [email protected])

The Master's Card

Most of us have probably heard the slogan - "There are something's that money cannot buy, but for everything else there is MasterCard." The slogan is a seduction to the application of debt. The apostle John has something else in mind when he offers enrollment on the Master's Card, for with this card an unimaginable debt has been paid for all who are enrolled. It's a debt that all owe, but relatively few choose to do anything about it.
The debt is a debt of sin. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 3:23; 6:23). The Master's Card is issued simply because of God's love and His willingness to free us from that debt. The card is issued only on God's terms, and has amazing benefits. Jesus, after His resurrection, sent forth His disciples on what we often call the great commission, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20). The fulfillment of this charge begin in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the resurrection. All those who heard and obeyed the conditions of the message were enrolled or added to the Lord's church (Acts 2:36-38, 41, 47). The Messiah they had rejected, they now accepted as not only the Messiah, but their Savior. The manifestation of God's love on the cross, brought about their obedience to His will.
"By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him" (I John 4:9). The word, 'manifested' suggest something that has been hidden, is now clearly revealed, made apparent, or is now fully known. Certainly God's love has been manifested before the cross, but the manifestation of His love in the giving of His Son is the crown jewel of God's precious love for His creation. His love is now fully revealed.
Just as the love of God is manifested in the sending of His beloved Son, so our love for God is manifested in our obedience to God's commandments (I John 2:4-5; John 14:15). "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3).
God desires to forgive your sin debt. Come worship us and learn how apply for the Master's Card - The application fee has been pre-paid.