Category: Sanctification

Being Thankful

The world is filled with thankless people and ingratitude is a core trait of unbelievers. The Apostle Paul expressed it this way when writing to the Roman Church, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Romans 1:21). Natural man usually sees positive circumstances as either a matter of good luck or that their success is the product of pulling things together through hard work. There is little interest in being thankful to the Lord for His goodness and common grace.

Conversely, a believer is thankful. During regeneration the believer receives a new nature through the work of the Spirit. Inclusive in His sanctifying work is a heart of thanksgiving towards God. The believer grows in grace and, in turn, thanks God for everything. Stated another way, genuine thankfulness is evidence that God is at his work in the life of His child.

Luke 17:11-19 tells a story of ten lepers who cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus saw them, was moved with compassion and healed them.  Sadly, although ten were healed, only one returned to Jesus, glorifying God and giving thanks – ten asked God for mercy, nine failed to be thankful. Unfortunately, there are times when believers, like the lepers, ask God for help and forget to give thanks.

Our bounty of thanksgiving, even during the twists, bends and flips of life is founded on a right understanding of God. The reason for ongoing thanksgiving is found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Thanksgiving is an admission of dependence on God who controls all things. Through Scripture, prayer, and the wise council of fellow believers, our confidence grows, as we see His hand of provision. We learn to observe the ways that He is at work in all of our circumstances, even when the path is difficult and unclear, for our good. God is never surprised or caught off guard in adversity, scrambling to make the best out of a hard situation. On the contrary, the Sovereign Lord knows how He is going to use the problem for our good, before it enters our world.

So, if you are a struggling Christian, trust your trustworthy God, He is near. Be assured that in His sovereign love and wisdom you can be confident that He is in control of everything and the ultimate outcome will be your everlasting good.

  • Selby Brannon
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The Day Sanctification Became Possible

I have been working through the book of Romans slowly, reading it and using John MacArthur’s teaching alongside my reading. Recently in chapter 6 MacArthur said something that was shocking but profound. He was talking about how before we come to faith in Christ we are slaves to sin, that we really can’t help but do anything that wasn’t sinful. He contrasted this with how now that we have come to faith in Christ, we have been made into a new creation (II Cor 5:17), have gone from dead to alive (Eph 2:1-5) we have a new heart (Ez 11:19-20), we have the Spirit of God dwelling within us (Rom 5:1-5) and we are no longer subject to Satan but have been transferred into Jesus’ Kingdom (Rom 6). What he said next shocked me, he said, “It is not unreasonable to think of the change that you went through when you surrendered your life to Christ as greater than the change you will go through when you are translated to heaven.”

I know we could debate that statement to death but what I found myself realizing was I had greatly undervalued that depth of change that happened the day I gave my life to Christ. Dead is the old Steve whose every inclination was to do nothing but to sin and God has done a new work in me that frees me from the dominion of Satan and the power of sin over my life. Do I still stumble at times and sin, battle with the sinful nature, fall to temptation …..yes (Rom 7), but in Christ I have been made new with the Spirit in me giving me the ability to not live as a slave to sin but freed as a slave to righteousness (Rom 6).

The day I gave my life to Christ I was not only sanctified in Christ, but further sanctification through the work of the Spirit became possible for the first time in my life. (Heb 2: 10-11). I pray God will encourage you as you walk in this truth.

  • Steve Selle

Repentance & Sanctification

With all this talk of Good Grief and Genuine Repentance I thought it would be helpful to add a few additional thoughts from the last two weeks of sermons on 2 Corinthians 7:8-12 …

Repentance Is Always a Posture of Humility

 Whether it be the heart of an unbeliever awakened to the Gospel to turn from slavery to sin to the beauty of Jesus or a child of God aware of his failure in the flesh, a bowed head before the Lord is a good and right posture. It takes Spirit-produced humility to see and savor Christ over the pleasure of sin for a season. For this reason, repentance is both the response of a regenerated heart and the fruit of a believer’s sanctification.

Repentance Knows Where the Power is Found

 Whether it be the delighting in sin pursued, or the weight of guilt over sin forsaken, a believer can never let sin have the power. The power of sin has been defeated at the cross. Satan aims to thwart our sanctification as the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10), keeping our eyes on the sin and not the Savior. In repentance, we disarm the stronghold of sin by looking to the cross where Jesus paid it all and we put our confidence in the power of the Spirit to sanctify us completely. For this reason, repentance is both the response of a regenerated heart and the fruit of a believer’s sanctification.

Repentance Delights in Being Brought Low so that Christ is Lifted High

 Whether it be in our failure to turn from sin or the successful resisting of temptation, the child of God loves to be brought low so that Christ is exalted. Far from this being an attitude of poor self-esteem, it is an attitude of honor to God. He is the Conqueror over sin, not us. He is the Ruler of our souls, not us. He is the One to be praised, not our best efforts. To see yourself in the right place before the God of glory (remember Isaiah and Peter) is actually the place of great joy. Because in that place your life rightly lifts Jesus high … and don’t we all want to do that?!

May our repentance glory in the cross where sin met is match, so that our sanctification focuses on the glory and beauty of Jesus over the wretchedness of sin.

  • Mark Spansel

Progress in Progressive Sanctification

“I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul assured his friends in Philippi they would eventually arrive home complete in Christ and that’s certainly true for anyone found in Christ today. I need to be reminded of that often. But if you’re like me that prompts some questions. Do you find yourself wondering if progress is being made? I mean how can I tell the Gospel is actually taking root in my heart and there’s something good going on deep down in my soul? What can we use to make an assessment? What’s the gauge?
● Moral behavior can certainly be an indicator, (see 1 Jn 3:6) but we all know people who don’t claim the name of Christ who are very good. Anyone with the least bit of self-awareness knows it’s possible to cover up what’s really going on inside with an outward appearance that is at odds with the heart.
● Healthy appetite for Christian culture and the otherwise religious can also be an indicator – had my quiet-time, listened to a sermon on the way to work, played praise and worship music all day, made it to small group and Church this week. Check and double check. I must be well on the way, right? Could all that just be the same insincere stuff Jesus had to call out the Pharisees for?
● A hunger to know and understand is another indicator. The book shelves are packed with good stuff and I love to be learning. We are alive in a time where it seems there’s an excellent book coming off the press every minute of the day full of truth and teaching for followers of Christ. Add everything that is instantly available to the learner today via the web and it’s an amazing blessing of help and input for growth and understanding of who we are in Christ. Yes, that’s been fuel for progress but apparently knowledge can out-run the application to my heart, (1 Cor 8:1).
Behavior, activity, and knowledge may be three things I’ve observed in my own life that are undoubtedly important in evaluating progress in sanctification but there’s a caution as well. To be sanctified isn’t a hyper-spiritual state but a more practical view of life as I’m becoming increasingly aware of the needfulness of grace. It is a quickening of the pace to turn away from confidence in self and toward the keeper of my soul. Maturing in wisdom, more sincere love and care for the wellbeing of others, seeing myself, God, and others more truly. In sum “becoming conformed to the image of His Son” Who is the only perfect and reliable gauge for measuring progress in sanctification. I am thankful He is both the power and the guarantee that it will be accomplished.

– David Ortiz

 

Sanctification From Wise People

A believer’s true identity rests in Christ alone. Oftentimes, in the commonplace of life, our trajectory moves from an identity in Christ to an identity nested in our thinking and doing. These movements from resting in Him to activities of self happen all too easily. No believer is immune to the sways of their heart. Thanks be to God, the Holy Spirit is ever present, bringing His children back to a dependence in Christ Jesus. His sanctifying work occurs in a variety of ways, each built upon a framework of God changing us. Inclusive to this framework is how God uses wise people, to point us to Jesus.

More than thirty five years ago, I was a new husband and would-be father. I wanted the best for our new family. Things were tough and we would soon be without my wife’s salary. I felt I needed to come up with more money to keep things together. We were approached by friends who seemingly had a solution. My wife was never an advocate of this “business opportunity” but she wanted to be supportive and went along with it.

Most Saturday nights we went to strategic meetings where our business segment leaders cheered us on. They assured us that we, too, would be the captains of our ships and masters of our destiny someday, if only we kept to their tried and true plan. I imagined people sitting in a crowded auditorium someday applauding us, as we gave them the formula for a wealthy-filled life: money, boats, homes, and automobiles; I am certain you get the picture.

In time, our church leadership became concerned for us. The elders decided to approach and warn us about our actions. Their concern led to a plan that I learned of much later. The Board met at the church office for prayer while an elder (who had experienced loss from a similar activity) met with me at his home. He spoke from personal experience for about two hours. He was thorough. As we drew to a close, I understood loss and, for the first time, understand true gain in Christ. Although I was a Christian, my spiritual eyes did not see the great jewel that was in Christ until that night.

Theologically, I know that God was at work before that evening but His work of sanctification that night jarringly reset my trajectory. Have my eyes turned from the prize in the past thirty-five years? Of course, the answer is “yes,” but by His grace, God brings his truth. He uses His word, struggles, suffering, and more wise people to redirect me to the object of my greatest affection, Jesus. God is ever faithful to those who are His.

  • Selby Brannon

Surprised by Sanctification

As an associate lay elder I have the privilege to serve the church and attend meetings with Pastor Mark, Pastor Jeff, Selby and David and if I am smart listening a lot and learning a lot. I was blessed by a recent meeting to listen to a discussion on what sanctification looks like and how God accomplishes sanctification. After the meeting I found myself reflecting and rejoicing over the five years my family has been at Leroy and the work Jesus is doing in our lives.

I came to the church weary from church activity and drifting rather than pursuing Christ. Our first Sunday at Leroy, Dave Carroll shared on Jesus providing rest for the weary, talk about finding a cool drink of water in the middle of the desert.

Paul uses an interesting phrase in Eph 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

At Leroy there have been many opportunities to be washed by the Word. I am so blessed to be able to weekly sit under so many gifted teachers of God’s Word at 90@9. The teaching of God’s Word from the pulpit at Leroy will sanctify your life if you pursue and apply it. I would encourage you to read the passage we are going to look at ahead of hearing it, check out the teachers and books that Pastor Mark references, even if they aren’t from this century. Take advantage of Godly relationships with precious saints at Leroy and allow them to speak God’s Word into your life.

I came to Leroy weary and find myself 5 years in surprised by the sanctifying work of being washed by the Word of God. I am so looking forward to the continuing work of God sanctifying us into that spotless bride.

  • Steve Selle

The Perfecting Work of the Gospel

I don’t ever want to stop growing! For as long as the Lord gives me breath, I can’t imagine I will ever feel like I’m where I ought to be in my spiritual progress. The great promise is that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). The day of Jesus Christ is the day of His return. Paul is expressing his absolute confidence in the perfecting work of the Gospel. That no matter how long he lives, or how long before the return of Christ, one thing is sure – All God’s children will be made complete!

How to live until that day

Let me offer two corresponding truths related to our spiritual maturity in the here and now. The first, is this – The Spirit of God dwelling in you is at work sanctifying you now. Through your good choices and bad ones, through the joys and sorrows, gains and losses, The Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4) is making you holy. You were declared holy at the point of your new birth by the finished work of Jesus; and you are being made holy day after day by the sanctifying Spirit in you, until the final day where the Father completes the work He promised by forever securing your holiness with no room for sin and no need for further growth.

The second, is this – You and I get to worship God through the renewing of our minds and the obedience of our wills. In other words, the passive work of grace done by the Spirit is to be met with our active decisions to keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). As God’s holy people, we can now choose holiness. We can say ‘no’ to lust and jealousy, and ‘yes’ to patience and self-control. We can say ‘no’ to laziness and unwholesome speech, and ‘yes’ to diligence and kindness. The fruit of the Spirit that is being produced in us by the Spirit will be practiced by Spirit-filled people who are focused on keeping in step with the Spirit. What a promise, what a gift!

We will be talking about this subject of Sanctification over the course of our Elder Blogs this ministry year (along with the themes of Unity, Gifts, and Discernment). Thanks for taking the time to allow us to shepherd you during the week for a few minutes. May God be glorified at LCC this ministry year!

  • Pastor Mark