Hebrews 10:10, 14; 29; 13:12
“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, any holy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffering without the gate,” Hebrews 10:10, 14; 29; 13:12.
Christ and His cross are the hinges on which all history turns. Before it, everything converged toward it. After it, everything proceeds from it.
For twenty centuries, the cross of Christ, His death, His shed blood, His crucifixion have been the very heart of true Christianity. God’s people have given their hearts, their lives, their all to share the message of the cross to the lost world. And as a result, hearts have been convicted, souls have been converted, and lives have been changed.
I am convinced that the single greatest sanctifying power for believers and their daily lives is still the old rugged cross.
Yet, here’s how it goes. Most people in Bible-believing circles believe the gospel is for unbelievers only. Once a person has received the work of the cross, it is assumed we only need the cross to share with those who are unbelievers. The idea is that once people have received the benefits of the cross, than we need to get on with living the Christian life.
· “Isn’t there something more than the cross? “
· “Isn’t there something else after the cross?”
· “Isn’t there something new?”
· “I’ve bowed before the cross, years ago, I’ve receive Christ, I’ve been born again, I’ve even been baptized into His death...now what? What’s next?”
It is as though people think they have gotten the cross out of the way and want to know, “What takes up where the cross leaves off?”
I’ve got news for you...the message of the cross never leaves off. The Bible is a crimson Book from beginning to end. All benefits, all blessings flow from the cross.
The Bible tells us of a great “theological trifecta.”
· Justification—the grace of the cross….saved from the penalty of sin.
· Sanctification—the gift of the cross….saved from the power of sin.
· Glorification—the guarantee of the cross….saved from the presence of sin.
Justification is a divine pronouncement.
Sanctification is an on-going process.
Glorification is a certain promise.
At the point of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ God declares us righteous through the justification cancelling our guilt by His grace. From that point, it becomes a settled “past” experience. This is the foundation of our faith.
At some point in the “future” God will glorify every believer. “We shall be like Him.” This is the foundation of our future.
So, what about “the here and the now”?
Think about it. The notion that a person has come into an eternal relationship with the living God without it effecting radical change in their life is unreasonable and unscriptural. It would be like a person….
...getting married and continuing to act like a single person.
...accepting a job and never showing up for work.
...enlisting in an army and never putting on the uniform or going through basic training.
To say you have given yourself to the Christ who died for you and, then, to continue to live as you always have is bazaar and blasphemous.
This words “sanctify” or “sanctification” means “to be set apart.” It is in the same word family as “holy” and “saint.” There are 117 references to the doctrine of “sanctification.” Three aspects of sanctification.
· Positional (initial) sanctification, Hebrews 10:10.
· Progressive (internal) sanctification, John 17:17.
· Prospective (ultimate) sanctification, 1 John 3:2.
Robert N. Wilkin says that of the 117 references to sanctification, 90 of them (76%) refer to positional sanctification which was accomplished on the cross, 24 (or 20.5%) relate to present sanctification and only 3 (2.6%) deal with future sanctification, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Dallas, Texas.
Real sanctification involves three separations. (1) Separation from sin and the world. (2) Then, separation to God. (3) And finally, separation for service, 2 Timothy 2:19-21.
1. The Motivation of the Cross.
The cross motivates us….
To Fear God. 2 Corinthians 7:1. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Many think the fear of God is an Old Testament concept and it has little place for today. But the cross provides the greatest motivation for the fear of God. Having just finished with one of the great passages on Christ in Philippians 2:5-11 involving Christ’s condescension, crucifixion and coronation, Paul immediately connects it with this. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12. The fear of God is a strong inducement to holiness. From the cross we see God’s hatred for sin and the costliness for paying its penalty. When we see sin at the cross and see it as the Father sees it, everything about sin changes. What we are at first attracted to we now abhor. What was a pleasure is at the cross pain - to Christ and to us.
To Hate Sin. Let’s do a survey. How many would admit that indwelling sin a problem? The others that are agreeing really have a sin problem.
I must advise you of this: For believers in Jesus Christ sin will be an abiding faction as long as we are in the world. Sin is always active, always seducing, always intruding, always resisting. According to John Owens, sin will strive to “darken the mind, extinguish convictions, dethrone reason, interrupt power and influence of any consideration brought to hamper it, break through all into a flame.”
The God-honest truth is…
· We sin more than we should.
· We still derive momentary pleasure from sin.
· We still struggle with sinful habits, if not publicly, at least privately.
Recently, I have overheard the frustrations of Christians regarding our current political and economic situation in America. And let me assure you, I feel your pain and concern. But, what if we were half that outraged by our own sin and self-deception?
When we see sin at the cross, we cannot make excuses for our desire to sin. Jesus taught, “Blessed are they that mourn,” Matthew 5:4. Not mourning at what sin cost us, but….
· What sin does to God….His name, His purpose, His glory.
· What sin does to our testimony….People do not remember a life-time of devotion, but the moment of sinful indiscretion.
· What sin does to our reward. The pleasure of sin are only “for a season,” Hebrews 11:25.
If you can’t figure it out on your own what to hate about sin, the Bible says we are to “hate evil,” Psalm 97:10; “every false way,” Psalm 119:104; “vain thoughts,” Psalm 119:113; and “lying,” Psalm 119:163.
To Love Righteousness. Hebrews 1:9 says, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” This is a verse about our Savior who “went above doing good,” Acts 10:38 and calls those who follow Him to “let our light so shine before me, that they may see our good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16. Ephesians 6:14 says we are to wear “righteousness” like a soldier’s breastplate. True sanctification involved not doing evil and doing good. Sustained service to our Savior is a sign of salvation. Malachi 3:18 puts it this way. “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteousness and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.”
Remember the three aspects of sanctifications? (1) Separation from sin. (2) Separation to God. (3) Separation to service.
2. The Transformation through the Cross.
We can never in this life reach a point in sanctification were fellowship with God does not rest on the work of the cross of Christ.
New Position...in Christ. Through the cross we are now “in Christ.” Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Listen to 1 Corinthians 1:30-31. “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
New Person. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17. That new person may not look at lot different immediately on the outside, but inside God has made him a new person in Christ. This new person has a new love in his life, the Lord Jesus; and a new book, the Bible; and a new companion, the Holy Spirit of God.
New Perfection. How many “feel” perfect? If you did at one time, I’m sure it didn’t last long. But look what Jesus did for you on the cross. “For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,” Hebrews 10:4.
God has set us apart to Himself for eternity! Our hearts are not hotel rooms with check out times. God gives believers a permanent relationship in Christ.
New Path (through Jesus’ flesh). “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which hath hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh,” Hebrews 10:19-20 By Christ’s cross God forever opened the way. Men are now free to come to God through Him. Its free, but it is in no way cheap. It cost Him His blood. We can now come boldly into God’s presence, so long as we come God’s way, through Jesus Christ alone. The Old Testament temple had a veil that blocked the way into the presence of God. Now, in Christ God has opened the “a new and living way” into His presence through the once for all offering of His Son.
New Perspective...looking to Jesus. We are called to keep Jesus in our view.
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame…” Hebrews 12:1-2.
New Power...to endure. Galatians 2:20 tells us how we can plug into some real power. “I am crucified with Christ,: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
This is “high voltage,” 220. How can you ever hope to pull off the assignment of living for God? You can’t do it! You never could. You never will. “Christ liveth in me…”
John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, felt called and bound by God to preach. When he refused to cease and desist, the English government jailed him for twelve years, from age 30 to 42.
1700th century English jail life was not pleasant. Bunyan lived in a lice-infested environment with poor sanitation and little privacy. Fellow prisoners died of diseases easily cured today.
Despite these personal hardships, the fate of his wife and children were his greatest concern. There was no welfare in 1660 to provide for them in his absence, so he cast his family upon the mercy of his small congregation and the charity of a few friends. But his greatest anxiety was for his oldest daughter, who was born blind. He was closest to her.
Later he wrote:
“I was made to see that if ever I would suffer rightly I must first pass the sentence of death upon everything which can properly be called a thing of this life, even to reckon myself, my Wife, my Children, my Health, my Enjoyments, and all, as dead to me and myself as dead to them. And second to live upon God that is invisible.”
While is was imprisoned his blind daughter died. The grief almost undid him.
Bunyan knew the cost of discipleship. He knew what it meant to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Christ. Where did he find power to live this way? He found it at the cross.
Out of this voluntary death came resurrection life. Pilgrim’s Progress, written while in jail, has become one of history’s best-selling books. Only the Bible has been translated into more languages.
William P. Farley, Outrageous Mercy, pp. 97-98.
New Pattern...consistent growth. The hymn puts it this way. “Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.” God wants from His children steady growth toward true spiritual maturity. We owe our very spiritual existence to our Savior and His cross, so …. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord,” Hebrews 12:14.
Our new position becomes the foundation for our new pattern. We are not to chase after godliness as though it were an elusive prize. Christ has sanctified us by His blood. “All of our subsequent effort represent progress in a sanctification already assured rather than progress toward a sanctification not yet acquired,” William E. Hull, Layman’s Library of Christian Doctrine—The Christian Experience of Salvation, Broadman, Nashville TN, 1987, p. 137.
New Place…. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without (outside) the camp, bearing His reproach,” Hebrews 13:13. We are not to grudgingly, hesitatingly go outside the camp, but gladly and joyfully “bearing His reproach.” From this word “reproach” we get the word “stigma.”
New Persistence…. While sanctification is a natural consequence of the cross it is not an automatic consequence. We all know believers who sin, who have bad tempers, who get involved in questionable activities. True sanctification requires persistent yieldedness, persistent obedience, persistent confession.
3. The Proclamation of the Cross.
Most of you are probably like me when it comes to lamenting the decay of America as we have known her. Never have we seen the kinds of shifts on so many fronts. Basic decency, civility, honesty, and morality are disappearing faster than can be reported. The temptation is to build a power-base, go on some kind of crusade to “take back America,” vilifying the leading offenders and rid ourselves of these evils. We could wish it were that easy. Our human “band-aids” will not provide long-term help. Our arguments will not overthrow Roe-v-Wade and end the killing of innocent unborn babies. Our persuasion will not end homosexuality or pornography or slavery or addictions.
Changed lives must begin with changed hearts and the only place to get that is by humbly bowing the cross of Jesus Christ as a sinner needing God’s grace.
If knowing, understanding and seeing God’s work at the cross is a key to all aspects of salvation, which includes sanctification, then it is imperative that we preach the cross.
“The best way to help God’s people grow in holiness is to regular preach Christ crucified. This message affects hearts, changes desires, and reorients lives,” Outrageous Mercy, p. 98.
We will either stand or fall with the cross because it deserves, it demands a declaration. Apart from the cross God’s churches have no reason for existence, no eternal function. We are to live by the cross and for the cross.
And you can measure where vital Christianity exists. The decline of the preach of the cross accompanies a decline of saving, sanctifying, satisfying Christianity.
“God is attracted to weakness. He can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately them need Him,” Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.