Are You Sanctified Enough?
And some of you used to be like this. 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" (2 Corinthians 6:11 - CSB).
Sanctification has two aspects. The first is an immediate change brought by salvation. Christ's work on the cross has an immediate impact and along with a change in the legal status (justification), the Christian begins a journey that ultimately culminates in glorification where they will be free from any remnants of sin.
The second aspect is the one we will discuss today, which is the ongoing or progressive sanctification a Christian will always be engaged. Sanctification is a matter of reality for Christians. It is a daily struggle sometimes. Other times we seem to walk free and easy less impacted by our personal sin. If you've ever looked at long-term charts of the stock market our lives should be somewhat representative of what you see in those charts. It has its ups and downs, but it is usually moving in an overall upward trend. But there are times of "Bear Markets" in our Christian walk.
The writers of the 1689 Confession, (Chapter 13.2) provide a concise understanding:
This sanctification extends throughout the whole person,7 though it is never completed in this life. Some corruption remains in every part.8 From this arises a continual and irreconcilable war, with the desires of the flesh against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.9
It is not an issue of whether believers will sin (1 John 1:8) but who primarily deals with that sin? The problem I've seen in authoritarian, fundamentalist circles is the desire to provide the services of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the congregants. Is there a role for pastors to play here? Yes, I would agree there is, but the issue becomes one of control. When sin becomes a way to yield power over the congregation there is a problem.
Given what the Confession has to say, we know we will never have complete control over sin. The Christian should be engaged in that battle and not give up the fight, or consider it, "no big deal" (Romans 6:1). Proving your value to the pastor or congregation because of how holy you appear to these individuals is not the measure by which Christ sees you. He paid for your sin on the cross, all of it. You can't climb your way up to a higher status by the judgments of individuals that are just as sinful as you are.
Paul wrote about this constantly because he knew the tendency men have to make such harsh judgments about others. Colossians 2 is critical to this understanding. Christ disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame. He canceled the debt and nailed it to the cross, and because of this...."Therefore let no one pass judgment on you...Let no one disqualify you....(Colossians 2:16-19). Don't allow legalists to steal your joy, or to condemn you in your sin. Seek to please the One that saved you first and foremost.