II. Holiness: God’s Way Better Than Man’s. 1999, Invictus for "Truth For Today Bible Fellowship. Lafayette, IN.”
This is one of the four things
which God has made Christ to be unto His people. They are:
Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption” (1 Cor. ).
It is a common practice with
those who do not see the truth of "the two natures” to constantly speak of
Sanctification as if it were a progressive work by which the Old nature is
constantly improved until it is made meet for the inheritance of the saints (i.e., sanctified ones) in light.
But the opposite is the fact.
Scripture never speaks of "a change of heart.” That is man’s formula. God
speaks of a "new heart” being created: but never of the old heart "changed.”
True, with Israel
in the coming day of blessing, the heart will be exchanged – the stony heart
for a heart of flesh, but even that will not be the "change” of one into the
other. The Holy Spirit never speaks of His work as being the improvement of the
old nature, on the contrary, He tells us that the old man is hostile to God
(Rom. 8:7), that he cannot get to know spiritual things, that they are
foolishness to him (1 Cor. 2:14).
From this it is surely clear that
if the natural man can neither "receive” nor "get to know the things of the
Spirit of God,” how can he be sanctified? The flesh is eternally opposed to the
spirit; i.e, the Old nature is
eternally opposed to spirit, which is the New nature, as Gal. 5:17 testifies.
Conflict is not Sanctification! Neither is the Spirit of God in His operations
in our New nature improving that with which He is carrying on a warfare.
Those who are looking for
Sanctification as a progressive work are looking for a ground of peace in a
sanctified nature, instead of being occupied with that peace which has been
made by the perfect sacrifice of Christ. Instead of being occupied with
Christ’s finished work for them, they
are taken up with an ever un-finished work in
them. It is a question of Christ or self; and the only reason why multitudes of
Christians are occupied with progressive sanctification is because it exalts
self. Whereas the work of the Spirit is just the opposite – viz.: to glorify
Christ. "He shall glorify me” were the Saviour’s words (John ), and in them we have a standard by
which we may test everything in us and around us.
"But OF HIM are ye in
Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us… Sanctification”
This is one of four things which
we have in Christ. Christ is made unto us "Righteousness.” How? And When? By
our works? By anything we can do? Righteousness is expressly declared to be "to
him that worketh not” (Rom 4:5). So it is with all that we have "in Christ.” As
it is with Righteousness, so it must be with Sanctification. Righteousness is
declared to be "without works,” but
Sanctification is put on precisely the same ground as Righteousness. As we get
the one, so do we get the other, for we get both in Christ. Surely our readers
must see that we can no more work out a Sanctification for ourselves that we
can work out a Righteousness of our own.
True, it is written of holiness –
"without which no man can see the Lord” (Heb. ). It does not say, without a certain measure of
holiness, but without the thing itself. How then are we to get it? The answer
is: - In precisely the same way that we get Righteousness, - in Christ! We get Christ by gift, by
grace, and by imputation, and it is all Christ from first to last. Our standing is in all His perfection.
There is only one standing for every saved sinner. We cannot grow in this
standing. It is perfect. Nothing can be put to it and nothing can be taken from
it; our knowledge of it and experience of it, and our enjoyment of it may grow
and will grow. But it is one standing and the same standing for the weakest,
poorest, youngest, humblest child of God as well as for the highest and most
learned. It is not a question of knowledge, but of life. And that life is
Christ. In Him we have got a perfect righteousness by grace. In Him also we
have a perfect Sanctification by grace – Righteous before God, as He is
righteous: Holy before God, as He is holy, because Christ "is made” both to us. Both are perfect. So that the child of God is
wholly righteous and wholly sanctified, and his standing is perfect, eternal
and unchangeable, because it is Divine.
True, our walk is marked by
failures, and infirmities, and falls, and sins. This is quite a different
matter, our walk is quite distinct from our standing in Christ, and cannot
affect it in the slightest degree.
"MADE MEET.” This is the absolute
truth as to the present position of all who are in Christ as the result of His
eternally perfect work for us. And it is occupation with Him and with what God
has made us to be in Him that will cause us and enable us to "walk worthy of
It will not be brought abut by
occupation with our walk.
We do not live by the study of
biology, or breathe by the study of pneumatics, or hear by the study of
acoustics, or get warm by studying the theory of heat. In like manner we cannot
grow by trying to add one cubit to our height: or add one year to our life by
"talking thought” about it.
How then can our walk be made worthy of our calling?
Only by the word of Christ dwelling in us richly: only by the application of
that word to our hearts. Hence it is written:
through Thy truth: Thy word is truth” (John ).
It is the special office of the
Holy Spirit to constantly apply this Word to us. Hence,
"God hath from the
beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and
belief of the truth” (2 Thess. ).
But this is not any attempt to improve our walk. Thus
occupied, the New nature feeds and grows and becomes strong. There will be
growth here, but, as to our standing in Christ, that is perfect, and in Him we
are righteous and holy in all His righteousness and all His holiness.