Monday, May 03, 2010

The Second Step

"...We implore you on Christ's behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." —II Corinthians 5:20b, 21(NIV)

The Righteousness of God means God's type of righteousness (based on love not legalism); a God-provided righteousness (rather than human self-righteousness); a self-chosen righteousness (God doesn't force it); and a self-imposed righteousness (no one can impose it on anyone else). And, when God's righteousness is in human flesh, except with Jesus, it is always a righteousness in process.

The work Christ did on the cross was an act of God we benefit from when we accept it by faith. However, the work Christ continually does through His Spirit brings us in line with the character of God so that "in him we might become the righteousness of God."

The Holy Spirit helps us attain the Christ-like life in a two-step process some of us call sanctification. We say "I must sanctify myself" (alluding to consecration). Or, we say "I must be sanctified" (alluding to purification). Both are correct uses of the word and statements of what happens in sanctification.

To sanctify is to "consecrate" or set aside for a holy purpose (as in Leviticus 11:44a). In consecration we surrender completely to God for His Holy purposes—living all of life under the Lordship of Christ and under the leadership of His Holy Spirit. To sanctify also means to "purify" or make pure or holy, as in John 17:17 when Jesus prayed for his disciples, saying, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth."
In this purifying part of Sanctification we depend totally on God to work in our lives and restore us to His image because it is a work we cannot do ourselves. We merely surrender ourselves to him and ask him to do it in us and for us. So the first part of sanctification—consecration, is a work, or surrender, we must do before God's Spirit can fill us, because the power of God's Spirit cannot be released into a life not surrendered to God. The second part of sanctification—purification, is a work God does through his Spirit when he is allowed to fully enter our lives.

This purifying work is also both an action and a process. The action takes place when we crucify our selfish unholy spirit (a work only we can do) and ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit and give us a new nature (a work only He can do). Most failures in Christian living come when we try to do the Spirit's work—we surrender to God then proceed to reclaim the life we gave Him and try to make it good by our own methods, causing severe discouragement in Christian living. However much we try, we always fail because we can never become good enough by our own efforts. Salvation and the infilling of the Holy Spirit begins the process so God’s Spirit has freedom to do what will require a lifetime to fully accomplish.

The Holy Spirit's work of leading us "into all truth" is part of the sanctifying process. Jesus also said, "Your word is truth" so we can see by this that the Holy Spirit uses Scripture in the sanctifying process, not only teaching us what we should do but helping us do it. You can rest assured God's Spirit never does anything in us or to us without our willing permission, however, those who learn to trust God, know the best way to live is to give Him absolute freedom in all of life.

I'm Rick Blumenberg . . .and that's My View from Tanner Creek.

2 comments:

Nancy J Locke said...

Beautiful post! Once we surrender our Old Adam nature and invite the Holy Spirit in, true life begins! Otherwise it is a miserable existence. Reaffirmation keeps us in the faith.

Blessings, Nancy J Locke

Rick Blumenberg said...

Thanks for the affirmation Nancy. And you are right that when we "invite the Holy Spirit in, true life begins!"