Lately, I’ve been seeing people on Facebook taking various sides in a current debate about the nature of sanctification and the role of the Law (or commandments) in it, so I thought, why not jump in. My view is that if we define sanctification properly, the Law has no role in it whatsoever. Sanctification is entirely a work of God’s grace in which we human beings only participate by being its subjects. In other words, while sanctified people obey, obedience is not the same thing as sanctification, and sanctification is never the result of obedience. I have written an article presenting my view with biblical support. It’s a little long to post here, so click here if you want to read it. The paper elaborates the following Fourteen Theses:
1. Sanctification is that saving work of God’s grace by which he sets a person or group apart for his exclusive use.
2. Sanctification is a definitive work of God, a change of status imparted by God’s laying claim to his people.
3. Sanctification has an already-not yet aspect.
4. Sanctification is an aspect of salvation and, therefore, should never be described as a work of man.
5. The present work of sanctification, therefore, must always be framed as merely an application of our definitive sanctification, grounded in the gospel, and appropriated by faith.
6. Even “progressive” sanctification is definitive.
7. The obedience of the sanctified life depends on the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
8. Sanctification is progressive only in the sense that Christians progress in their experience and outward demonstration of their definitive sanctification.
Sanctification and the Practice of Discipleship
9. Sanctification cannot be separated from the fellowship of the body of Christ.
10. The proclamation of the gospel is the heart of discipleship.
11. Worship should be framed in terms of presenting ourselves to God as living sacrifices, confessing our sanctification, not making it.
12. The commandments of scripture must be exposited, but should always be empowered by the exaltation of Christ as the object of our faith, hope, and love.
13. Our growth in Christ is not a matter of our own exertion but depends on the power of the Holy Spirit, so we should operate at all times in a posture of prayer.
14. Understanding the definitive nature of sanctification and properly relating it to Christian life and growth has the effect of simplifying our concept of discipleship.