Chad Ashby – How to Stop Flirting with Sin

Sometimes we get confused about the way salvation works.

Almost by accident, we can fall into a gospel that’s heavy on encouraging one another in God’s forgiveness and grace and mercy, but woefully light on warning one another of the dangers of diving headlong into sin. This kind of gospel has no word for the brother or sister who gives in to temptation over and over again — who “makes a practice of sinning” (1 John 3:8).

Over time, we avoid the Old Testament with all of its narratives of God’s judgment, cherry-pick through the sermons of Jesus and the letters of Paul, then skip passed the harsh warnings of Hebrews and James. We select only the passages that tell us of God’s love and forgiveness and joy. But are these warnings in Scripture not a part of God’s plan to save, too?

Let’s admit the hard truth: Many of us are failing in the fight against daily temptation.

To continue reading Chad Ashby’s article, click here.

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Lewis Roderick – Sanctification: Belonging, not Behaving

We get the word sanctify by glueing two little Latin words together: sanctus (which means holy) and fiacre (which means to make). Therefore, to be sanctified is to be made holy and sanctification is the gradual ‘holy-fying’ that takes place in a believer’s life from the very first moments of regeneration. The Westminster Shorter Catechism calls it ‘the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness’. You and I might call it ‘holistic upcycling’, as dark habits are broken, sinful patterns are corrected, and lives are remade to the image of Christ by the power of God’s Spirit.

However, sanctification is much bigger than simply becoming more like Jesus. As glorious as that is, sanctification is God’s planned cosmic restoration happening before our very eyes. Ever since Adam rebelled, the world and its people were plunged into ruin. Throughout the Bible story, our God promises a renewed earth, decisively rid of grief and death. This hope is made certain through Christ’s death and resurrection and will be seen when Christ returns to reign. In the meantime, however, we glimpse his new creation in the church. Have you known a brother live more peaceably or behave more gently or kindly? Behold what God is doing! He’s making all things new (Rev. 21:5).

To continue reading Lewis Roderick’s article, click here.

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Lee Roy Shelton, Jr. – The Saving Work of the Holy Spirit

“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” — John 16:8-11

1. Its Necessity

In prayer for the Holy Spirit’s leadership as to the need of our hearts, I have been impressed to give a series of messages on the theme: the saving work of the Holy Spirit, specifically, in the salvation of the saints. We find much spoken today about the Holy Spirit, much written about the Holy Spirit, and we hear of those — many in fact — who are seeking the Holy Spirit; but we see little of the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst — the true work, the primary work for which He was sent into the world: “To reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me [Christ]; of righteousness, because I [as the sinner’s perfect righteousness] go to my Father;…of judgment because the prince of this world [Satan] is judged” (John 16:8-11), as well as all those who are controlled by him.

To continue reading Lee Roy Shelton Jr.’s booklet, click here.

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I. C. Herendeen – Holiness: Is It Necessary For Salvation?

The subject before us is supremely and vitally important. The reader is earnestly urged to give it his most earnest and serious attention if he values his eternal salvation.

II Tim. 4:2 commands us to “Preach the Word; be instant (urgent) in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” The servant of the Lord is required to “keep back nothing that will be profitable” to his hearers if he would be a faithful servant. He is to proclaim the whole counsel of God. Sometimes this requires dealing with matters not altogether palatable, as Ezek. 2:5 says of his hearers “whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.” No one of us likes to be “reproved” or “corrected” but something this is necessary for our spiritual good, just as a doctor is at times obliged to give bitter medicine so his patient will regain his health. I trust the Spirit of God will blesh this message to each reader’s heart by making him sensible of how far he has fallen short of “the glory of God,” and how sinfully he has failed to measure up to the high standard of the Word of God; also in bringing any unsaved reader under such deep conviction of sin that he will cry out in soul travail “What must I do to be saved?” for Hell is deep and everlasting Turn, poor sinner, turn and flee now, for tomorrow may be forever too late.

To continue reading I. C. Herendeen’s article, click here.

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Michael Boling – Be Sanctified in Truth

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Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)

In John 17 we find what is known as Jesus’ high priestly prayer. This supplication to God is divided into three sections, one focused on Jesus himself, the second on Jesus’ disciples, and the final section devoted to all future generations of believers. One element of this prayer that is contained in the plea for the disciples is “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” While clearly a request for those disciples that would soon be sent into the world to preach the message of the gospel, the need for truth and to be sanctified in truth applies to all believers. Furthermore, knowing where the source of truth is located is also of great importance.

A term such as sanctification is often one of those theological terms that is misunderstood and misapplied. The word translates as sanctify is the Greek verb hagiazō meaning “to separate from profane things and dedicate to God”. This idea of something or someone being set apart to God is found throughout Scripture. Items in the temple were set apart. The people of Israel were set apart from all the other nations. In fact, anything called by God or used in service to God is set apart.

John Frame provides a great definition of sanctification noting it is “God’s work to make us holy.”[1] We can see in this definition that sanctification is not an act of our own personal effort, but rather it is a divine work, one completed in our lives by God. Frame further elaborates on sanctification commenting that “sanctification is not only a past event, but also an ongoing process. It begins in regeneration, and we can think of sanctification as the outworking of the new life given in regeneration. In that ongoing process, God works in us, but he also calls us to work out salvation. It is all of God, for all things are of God. Sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit on the basis of Christ, who is our sanctification.”[2] There is definitely a lot to chew on when it comes to sanctification. I want to focus specifically on the work of the Holy Spirit in this process as it relates to Scripture, the source of truth.

We live in a work where truth is more often than not viewed as relative to the individual. Truth is defined by the pursuit of personal passions or by popular vote. As believers, we live by a completely different construct, one that views truth as rooted in God who is eternal and His Word which contains guidelines that do not change with the passing whims of society.

As noted by John Frame, sanctification is a work of God completed in our lives by the Holy Spirit. In order to understand what that work includes as it relates to John 17:17 and the request made by Jesus, we have to journey back to the Old Testament:

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Jer. 31:33)

This covenant is what is referred to in Hebrews 10:16 meaning the covenant noted in Jeremiah applies to all those called by God to be His. Those who are His will have something written on their hearts. What is to be written on our hearts you might ask? It is God’s law, His holy Word. This is why when Jesus asked for believers to be sanctified in truth, he followed that request up with the declaration of God’s Word being the source of that truth.

If we claim to be a people of God who are interested in pursuing truth, we must be committed to rooting ourselves in the source of truth – God’s Word. Far too often, the pursuit of truth is stifled by personal opinion or even some traditions we hold dear that are not always founded in the Word of God. Perhaps this is why Scripture commands us to “test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21) Testing everything does not mean we are to test based on what our favorite author, blogger, pastor, or scholar has stated. The basis for testing everything is the only unfailing source of truth – God’s Word. The canon of Scripture is the ruler and standard for how truth is to be defined. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is not writing on our hearts the words of our favorite author, blogger, pastor, or scholar. Conversely, it is God’s law, His Word that is written on our hearts so that we may be sanctified in truth. Those set apart by God should always look to that which has been provided by God (Scripture) when we want to know what is true and what is false.

My challenge to you today is to focus on examining everything in light of God’s Word. If you desire to be holy as God is holy, part of that process is the uprooting of man’s Word and the planting and growing of God’s Word in your heart. We have to be willing to admit that some things that have taken root in our hearts and minds is not based in sound doctrine. We are told in Scripture what to do with anything that is not sound doctrine – it is to be rejected.

Get in the word and start stripping away through the work of the Holy Spirit that which does not belong as part of sound theology. Hold fast to truth and dig deep into the Word of God. We are a people set apart to God for holiness. Let us never hold dear to our hearts that which is not holy and from God regardless of how comforting that particular belief system may be to us. If it is not rooted in Scripture it is not from God meaning it can become like a week, infecting at times our approach to God’s Word on a number of levels.

Be sanctified in truth! God’s Word is truth!

References:
[1] John Frame, Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2013), 983.
[2] Ibid., 987.

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Ralph Erskine – Gospel Humiliation

Introduction

After great convictions of sin, and great denunciations of judgments against Israel, in the preceding part of the chapter, the Lord here, in the close, remembers mercy in the midst of wrath, and ends all his sad and heavy words with a sweet nevertheless, (v 60). And, indeed, mercy must begin on God’s side: “Nevertheless, I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth; and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.” And what will be the effect of this, we see in verse 61, “Then shalt thou remember thy ways and be ashamed.” It is worthy our observation, that when God says, “I will remember my covenant,” then he adds, “Thou shalt remember thy sins.” Hence it is evident, that never a good thought, never a penitent thought would have come into our hearts, had not some thoughts of peace and good-will come into God’s heart. When he remembers his covenant of mercy for us, so as not to remember our sins against us, then we remember our sins against ourselves with shame.

To continue reading Ralph Erskine’s article, click here.

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A. W. Pink – The Importance of Sanctification

What is “sanctification”? Is it a quality or position? Is sanctification a legal thing or an experimental? That is to say, “Is it something the believer has in Christ or in himself? Is it absolute or relative?” By which we mean, “Does it admit of degree or no? Is it unchanging or progressive?” Are we sanctified at the time we are justified, or is sanctification a later blessing? How is this blessing obtained? By something that is done for us, or by us, or both? How may one be assured he has been sanctified: what are the characteristics, the evidences, the fruits?…Are sanctification and purification the same thing? Does sanctification relate to the soul, the body, or both? What position does sanctification occupy in the order of Divine blessings? What is the connection between regeneration and sanctification? What is the relation between justification and sanctification?…Exactly what is the place of sanctification regarding salvation: does it precede or follow, or is it an integral part of it? Why is there so much diversity of opinion upon these points, scarcely any two writers treating of this subject in the same manner? Our purpose here is not simply to multiply questions but to indicate the many-sidedness of our present theme.

The great importance of our present theme is evidenced by the prominence that is given to it in Scripture: the words holy, sanctified, etc., occurring therein hundreds of times. Its importance also appears from the high value ascribed to it: it is the supreme glory of God, of the unfallen angels, of the Church. In Exodus 15:11, we read that the Lord God is “glorious in holiness” —that is His crowning excellency. In Matthew 25:31, mention is made of the “holy angels,” for no higher honor can be ascribed them. In Ephesians 5:26-27, we learn that the Church’s glory lieth not in pomp and outward adornment, but in holiness. Its importance further appears in that this is the aim in all God’s dispensations.2 He elected His people that they should be “holy” (Eph. 1:4); Christ died that He might “sanctify” His people (Heb 13:12); chastisements3 are sent that we might be “partakers of God’s holiness” (Heb 12:10).

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A. W. Pink – Sanctification: Its Progress and Practice

Normal Christian experience is a progress in practical holiness. Where there is life there is growth, and even when growth ceases there is a development and maturing of what is grown, unto increasing fruitfulness or usefulness. We say “normal,” for even in the natural (which ever adumbrates the spiritual) there is such a thing as stunted growth and arrested development-alas that we so often see examples of this among the Lord’s people. Yet those very failures only emphasize the fact–testified to by every Christian conscience–that we ought to go on “from strength to strength” (Psa. 84:7), that we should be “changed into” the image of the Lord “from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18), that is, from one degree of it to another. That such progress is our duty is clear from many passages: “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (1 Thess. 4:1).

It seems strange that there are those who not only repudiate in toto any such thing as “progressive sanctification,” but who are bitterly opposed to those who contend for the same, even though our contention be scripturally and soberly conducted; stranger still that those very men belong to the same denomination as John Gill. They know quite well that those whom they condemn do not advocate any refining of the old nature or spiritualizing of the old man, nor have the slightest leanings to the evil dogma of fleshly perfection. Nevertheless, they continue to misrepresent and denounce them. It is quite true that the believer possesses a sanctification which is absolute and perfect, admitting of no degrees or improvements. Yet that does not alter the fact that there is another sense in which the believer’s sanctification is a relative and imperfect one, and that the pursuit of holiness is to be his chief quest. Why confuse two totally different aspects of the subject, and refuse to recognize they both exist?!

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Mark Johnston – The ‘More and More’ of Holiness

Holiness has too often been embroiled in confusion and distortion within the Christian community and, sadly, ends up being neglected rather than cultivated within the church. This is especially true in times, like our own, when the gospel becomes more ‘me-focused’ than ‘God-focused’.

Holiness is the great goal of Christ’s saving mission. According to Paul, his purpose in redemption was ‘to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good’ (Tit 2.14). The author of Hebrews urges his readers to ‘pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (He 12.14 [NRSV]. And Jesus himself states it even more bluntly with the words, ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Mt 6.48).

Holiness matters. And it matters far more than we are willing to admit. We may be quite happy to engage in argument and debate over the meaning of the concept in Scripture, but make little effort to fight the inward battles involved in the pursuit of holiness in our daily lives.

This struck me recently while reading Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Summing up the main thrust of his letter, he tells them,

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord to do this more and more (1Th 4.1) [NIV – italics added].

He goes on from there to walk them through some of the glaring failures that were literally a blot on the landscape of the church’s witness in that town and surrounding area. Reminding them that ‘it is God’s will that you should be sanctified’ he goes on to catalogue the list of sexual sins (private as well as public) that were clearly a matter of common knowledge in their wider community. He then says, ‘For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life’ (4.7).

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