Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Basics of the Reformed Faith: Sanctification

Kim Riddlebarger
It is not until we understand what it means to be justified, that we are in any position to discuss sanctification, which is that life-long process through which the old habit of sin (what we call “indwelling sin”) is progressively weakened and the new nature (given us by virtue of regeneration) is progressively strengthened.

Why is this the case?

The same act of faith which unites us to Christ so that his merits are imputed to us and thereby provides the basis upon which God pronounces us “not guilty,” also begins the life-long process of sanctification, in which our sinful habits begin to weaken, new Godly affections begin to grow, and we begin to obey (however, feebly), not some, but all of God’s commandments. To put it yet another way, every justified sinner is also being sanctified.

In fact, the moment we place our trust in Jesus Christ, all of our sins (past, present, and future) are forgiven. Through that same act of faith which justifies us, Christ’s righteousness becomes ours so that we now rely on the obedience of Jesus Christ crucified which is ours when we believe in him. Because we are justified by the merits of Jesus Christ which we receive through the means of faith (and not through our own good works), our consciences are freed from fear, terror, and dread. Since we are not paralyzed by the fear that God will punish us when we fail, we find ourselves free to obey the law of God, not to earn greater righteousness, nor to become “holier.” Rather, we obey the law of God and do good works because we have already been reckoned as “righteous” and our eternal standing before God has already been settled by the active and passive obedience of Jesus Christ. This is what it means, in part, to be sanctified.

The biblical teaching about sanctification is quite extensive. According to Paul, this struggle with sin is the normal Christian life (Romans 7:14-25). In fact, the holiest among us may be those ........

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