2 Thessalonians 3:3-5 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
Many questions are bantered about regarding justification and sanctification. People wax eloquent about our Holy God, his holy law, and our duty to live holy lives. Over the years, my doctrinal views have morphed and matured. Below are some questions and answers on holiness or “practiced sanctification.” They are followed by some encouraging thoughts from 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5.
Is sanctification a positional instantaneous act, or is it a progressive and ongoing activity?
I believe sanctification is both a positional act and a progressive activity. The Bible presents it as both.
God declares people saints. He sets them apart or consecrates them for his service.
Then, for the rest of their lives, he calls them to holy living and fruits them from within to practice their graciously gifted saintly attitudes and behaviors.
Is sanctification a monergistic work or synergistic work?
I believe sanctification is both a monergistic and synergistic work. The Bible presents it as such.
Positional sanctification is all of God; it is thoroughly monergistic.
Practiced or progressive sanctification is something the Holy Spirit does for, in, through, within, and with man. The Holy Spirit does his work and matures the saved man’s affections, thoughts, words, and deeds. The saved man that enjoys following the lead of his sovereign coach. In the end, all boasting goes to God, for he is the omnipotent mover and shaker.
Is a man justified by faith alone, or is a man not justified by faith alone?
The Bible teaches man is justified by faith alone, and the Bible says a man is not justified by faith alone. What’s up?
I believe a man is fully justified and positionally sanctified by faith alone and without any personal works whatsoever. Our reconciled status with God is complete due to the grace and performance of Jesus Christ.
However, because our Father is so good and the Holy Spirit is so powerful and compelling, the saved individual goes on to do good works that have been foreordained for him or her from eternity past. Thus, his faith is shown in his works.
Is the sanctified person still totally deprave?
I believe a redeemed man is declared righteous, blameless, holy, pure, spotless, and radiant by the Just Judge. He clothes us in the righteousness of Christ, puts our sins behind his back, throws them in the Sea of Forgetfulness, and remembers our sins no more.
However, every saint, he is not glorified until he reaches glory. Therefore, the perfect saint is always committing sins, confessing sins, repenting, and being reassured by the Gospel. All gods children are totally-depraved and totally-forgiven and totally-acceptable worshipers of God.
Can a justified and sanctified person struggle with the same sin for all his life?
This is the easiest answer, “yes.”
Maybe that sin is alcoholism, drug abuse, pornography, homosexual, or heterosexual lust.
For sure that sin is pride, anger, selfishness, disbelief, materialism, fear, or Kingdom apathy.
God does not always save quickly and entirely from sinful passions and practices. He leads some into temptation. He sovereignty chooses to allow certain thorns to remain. But all is done in accordance with his mystery as well, and for the believe it is all grace.
Can a person accept Jesus as Savior of his life without making him Lord of this life?
The answer is both “yes” and “no.” It depends what one means.
Yes – The only people that Jesus saves are sinful people who consistently want to be lord of their own lives. This is the sad reality that will finally be cured at our glorification – when our sin nature is no more.
No – However the only Jesus who saves, is the one who is Lord and who ultimately wins the day in our hearts, heads, and hands. And we do not make him Lord.
Putting the thoughts together, Jesus is our Savior and he saves those with lordship issues. Jesus is Lord and he changes those whom he saves, and he makes them want — more and more — to follow his lordship.
So, with these thoughts I leave you with some encouragement. Look again at the text above, and notice Paul’s confidence in God:
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
In regard to our holiness, the Lord will graciously and powerfully do it. Our practiced holiness is in his hands; it is God’s business, and he is good at it. And because of this, our sanctification is guaranteed. So relax, enjoy God, and practice holiness.