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Becoming Holy--Christ's work in us

Discussion in 'Daily Devotionals' started by ZiSunka, Dec 10, 2002.

  1. ZiSunka

    ZiSunka It means 'yellow dog'


    Simply speaking, sanctification is “the process of achieving holiness” (Webster’s)

    But what does that really mean? People of some religions would tell you that sanctification is brought about by learning and performing certain religious rituals that imbue the person or object with holiness (Webster’s). Buddhists and Hindus call this “dharma,” doing what is expected of you (Webster’s). Buddhists obtain holiness (dharma) through emptying themselves of everything worldly. This achievement of holiness is explained this way:
    When it comes to being in accordance with dharma:
    When the mind is in accord with emptiness…
    What is there to be concerned or to be pleased with?
    When the mind is on accord with the empty,
    Yet not empty.
    Inside, driftwood.
    Outside, regal serenity.
    Cravings and attachments end conclusively
    (Dronma, p 52)

    Hindus also use the word dharma to mean holiness. To a Hindu, dharma means “an individual’s duty fulfilled by observance of custom or law”(Webster’s). By fulfilling all that is required of one, the soul becomes one step holier and progresses to the next caste in the next life. “When following dharma you are in harmony with the cosmic order; you abide close to God.” (Hinduism Online) There are eight restraints and nine observances that comprise basic requirements of Hindu dharma (holiness), but individual gods and devas (minor godlike-spirits) may order other laws, such as the offering of flowers, perfumes, or fresh fruits to their idol. (Hindu Resources)

    Modern religious Jews, too, seek to bring holiness into every aspect of their lives by keeping God’s Laws, but historically, Jews see holiness as something more. It is a national identity that was established by God’s conveyance of His convenant to them. (Johnson) So, this then, was one world religion that saw sanctification as an honor and a state of being conferred by God, not as a condition of human performance.

    But these definitions do not correspond with the Christian use of the word “sanctification.” In fact, St. Augustine argued that the holiness is not derived from an individual’s virtue, but from the Holiness of its Head, who is Christ. (Hodges) In direct contradiction to these other religious practices, with which educated Augustine would have been familiar, he declared that holiness is God-given and not human-created.

    Strong defines sanctification as “growing in holiness.” It is a process in a Christian’s life produced by God (I Thessollians 5:23), Christ (Hebrews 2:11), The Holy Spirit (I Peter 1:2), Truth (John 17:17-19), Christ’s blood (Hebrew’s 9:14), and Prayer (I Timothy 4:4-5). (Strong’s, p 178) This definition differs from the other religions by being outside-centered instead of performance-based. With the exception of prayer, the things which produce sanctification are the actions of God, not the human Believer. And even prayer is God-centered, since prayer is the act of communication with God.

    Strong is careful to differentiate sanctification from sanctimony, which he defines as an assumed or pretended holiness based on self-evaluation of personal performance and observation of ritual requirements. This is the hypocrisy condemned by Christ in Matthew 6:5. (Strong’s, p 178) Strong makes this distinction to show that holiness that comes from human effort and evaluation is pretended, but holiness that comes from God is real. This directly contradicts the Buddhist and Hindu notion of sanctification through personal accomplishment, and identifies such holiness as sanctimonious.

    Another definition of sanctification is “the work of God’s grace in the human soul though which and by which we are renewed in the image of God, set apart for God’s service and enabled to die to sin and live in righteousness.” (Essig, p 473) Again, the work is God’s, not humans’. Sanctification comes to individuals from God alone, not as a reward for the performance of rituals.

    This is reinforced by other definitions that convey the Christian use of the word. “To prepare or set apart people or things for a holy use,” denotes that the person or object is set apart, but not by their own efforts. “The effect of God’s spirit upon which it is made ready for the inheritance of the saints by grace through knowledge, faith, love, repentance and humility,” makes it clear that sanctification is an act of God in which humans cooperate, but do not originate or provide a source for. “The process by which man is delivered from the power of sin” (ala Romans 6:11-14), again states that humans do not sanctify themselves, but external forces work it upon us (no one, by definition, can deliver himself; one is delivered by a rescuer. If one can rescue himself, there was no helplessness from which to be delivered.). (Cope, p 573)

    One definition hits the truth of the gospel most accurately, though. Sanctification is the process by which a person comes to enjoy the presence and love of God (Wesley). This truth is repeated throughout the Bible, culminating in the crucifixion. Genesis 17:1 & 3, “When Abram was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to him. He said to Abram, "I am God Almighty. Live in my presence with integrity…At this, Abram fell face down in the dust,” it was a call to Abram to live in His presence, made holy, by his faith. His submission (bowing down to the ground before God), demonstrated his faith in God, as did the later description of circumcision (obedience to God’s first condition of the covenant) for every man in Abram’s household.

    The possibility of a post-fall human enjoying the presence of God was made real in the Bible’s description of Enoch’s life, “After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God for 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was gone because God took him.” (Genesis 5:22-24) Enoch obviously enjoyed the presence and love of God to such a measure that God took him directly instead of waiting for him to die like everyone else. We can only hope that we will come to enjoy His presence so much!
    This concept is revealed in God’s admonition “So you shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him. You shall anoint them, consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister to Me as priests.” (Exodus 28:41) In order for the priests to be allowed to be in His presence in the Tabernacle, they had to undergo a process of sanctification.
    Psalm 24 echoes this idea. Who has permission to be in God’s presence in His holy hill? The person who is holy, sanctified.

    So when we are sanctified, we are set apart for God’s purposes, we are growing in holiness, we are being renewed in the image of God, we are being enabled to serve Him, we are being delivered from the power of sin, are preparing to accept our inheritance, and are coming to enjoy the presence of God.

    Works Cited

    Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Mass., 1989.

    Dronma, Yeshe, A Glimpse into the Buddhist Mind, Dorje and Bell Publications, Toronto, 1990.

    Hindu Resources Online, Dharma & Philosophy, http://www.hindu.org/dharma/#Dharma.

    Hinduism Online, Basics of Hinduism, http://www.himalayanacademy.com

    Johnson, Carl, Jewish Articles of Faith, http://mb-soft.com/believe/txh/jewbelie.htm, Believe Publications, Kingsbury, Indiana.

    Hodges, Miles H., The Donatist Controversy,
    http://www.newgenevacenter.org/biography/augustine2.htm#donatists, 2000.

    Strong, James, Strong’s Universal Subject Guide to the Bible, Thomas Neslon Publishers, Nashville, 1990.

    Essig, Montgomery F., The Comprehensive Analysis of the Bible, Southwestern Company, Nashville, 1922.

    Cope, Herman, The Union Bible Dictionary, American Sunday School Union, Philadelphia, 1855.

    Wesley, John, The Works of John Wesley, edited by Thomas Jackson, Number XI, p.60, London, 1872.

    All scripture references are from God’s Word, World Publishing Inc., Cleveland, 1995. Used by permission.
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  2. GraftMeIn

    GraftMeIn The Masters Gardener

    May God continue to refine us until that day Jesus returns to take us home, In much the same way He took Enoch.

    Thanks for sharing this Lambslove.
  3. Gerry

    Gerry Jesus Paid It All

    Good stuff Lambslove! Sanctification does indeed denote setting apart. One Scholar I read has said that sanctification occurs some 300 times in the New Testament and 760 times in the Old testament. In all of theses cases the basic meaning is to set apart. This includes everything from days and seasons, fields, houses, tabernacles, city gates, to believers sanctifying themselves and God, as indeed God sanctified Chist.

    One other point you made, is especially meaningful. One of my favorite teachers said in in a contrast of Justification and Sanctification. He said: "Justification is that which God does FOR us, while Sanctification is that which God does IN us.
  4. Blessed-one

    Blessed-one a long journey ahead

    cool...... thanks for the infor lambslove, definitely gives me something to think about.
  5. e4God

    e4God Visiting WebHead

    Great article, lambslove ! Nice coverage of an important subject. The whole concept of imputed sanctification is truly profound... Thank you for my morning meditation today!

    The buddhist or hindu tries to MAKE HIMSELF empty, needless, and wantless, in order to be holy. That holiness is described by them as peace. A man who wants nothing, is empty, and does what he is supposed to do at all times. Sounds like a zombie to me! The end result is peace by self denial... it's not bad... at least there would be no crimes caused by selfish ambition, envy, etc... But this "WAY" misses the mark because we are not able to MAKE ourself.

    God created us. The creation of a Holy Being must be holy...

    We are not supposed to become holy by MAKING ourselves... but by accepting what He has created us to be. "Be Ye Holy - as He is Holy" we are told. Do you think God has to DO something to be holy? I think not! He just Is Holy. And everything he made was perfect.

    It is we, with our power of free will, that blew it... Adam and Eve fell. Their sin was visited on all who came after.

    BUT - The Gift of Christ, Substitutionary Payment for our sin, Remission of all sin (original and acquired), removes our "stinking grave clothes" and allows us to be holy as He is holy!

    NEXT Issue: Being at peace by becoming needless and wantless is not the WAY of God for us. God wants us to have the desires of our heart!

    You touched on something even more profound when you asked the question from psalm 24.

    Who can ascend the Holy Hill?

    I was almost thrown out of a small group once, for the 'sin' of blasphemy, when I declared that any Christian could ascend that hill.

    Notice what happens in this psalm as it progresses... The focus shifts from

    God (creation) to
    Christ (the perfect one), and us (made perfect by Christ)
    The blessing from the LORD and righteousness from GOD
    - then the focus shifts to GATES and Doors... "Lift up your heads oh gates"
    Mystery in the middle of clear thought? Not so mysterious... Others enter into a Kingdom by the gates and into houses by the doors.

    Once we become holy, we become gates and doors through which others are to enter into the Kingdom or into God's house!

    This same word picture of "gates" is used to describe apostles,  when the city of New Jerusalem is said to have 12 Jewel encrused gates (one for each apostle - the jewels are from the crowns earned by their lives!).

    A Praise of thankfulness bursts forth at the realization that we are indeed made to be Holy and to become gates and doors to the Kingdom once we realize, and accept, the free gift of Salvation...

    Holy, Holy, Holy - Holy is the Lord God Almighty!
  6. ZiSunka

    ZiSunka It means 'yellow dog'

    Profound e4God! Thanks for adding this to my thesis! The part about being doors and gates is something I will be meditating on now!! :)

    Do you think I have potential as a writer?
  7. Gerry

    Gerry Jesus Paid It All

    I do!
  8. e4God

    e4God Visiting WebHead

    You? A writer? Absolutely ! :)

    Your thesis is well done! In fact, I would like to invite you to write a chapter in my new book! A version of this thesis of yours would be a good addition. My technical articles and essays have been published in secular trade journals quite often. Even had a piece picked up and syndicated by AP once. Now I want to write for Christian audiences, and have written a book proposal that will be sent to a few publishers. The point of the book is to teach what it means to be Christ in our world, (I no longer live but christ lives in me). This is hard for many to understand - much less apply.

    The idea of becoming Christ's hands and feet is even scary, or almost blasphemous to some... But if we can first show them how they are sanctified and made holy, set apart, as your thesis does, then maybe readers can make the jump to investigating how to become Christlike in the 21st century, and what that might look like.

    Sorry if this is off topic for your forum, but I wanted to tell you, in a meaningful way, that I think you do write well!
  9. ZiSunka

    ZiSunka It means 'yellow dog'

    Wow E4God! I'm flattered!
  10. Blessed-one

    Blessed-one a long journey ahead

    great insight there e4God, regarding the emptiness with Buddism. I've always wanted to know about that.