(Article for publication week of 1-22- AD 2015)
"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;" (I Thessalonians 4:3-4).
Last week we began a series of articles on the doctrine of sanctification. Sanctification means "purification." The Greek word that is translated "sanctification" (hagiasmos) is also translated "holiness" in other places in our English translations. One of the best theological definitions of sanctification is given us in our Baptist Catechism (yes, Baptists do have a catechism) in answer to question #38 , ("what is sanctification?") we read, "sanctification is 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." Our Presbyterian brethren will find this same definition in the Shorter Catechism question and answer #35.
I want to give our readers another good introduction to the doctrine of sanctification from the Second London Confession of Faith, the historic creed of the Baptists. We refer you to Chapter thirteen ("Of Sanctification" ) with the scripture proofs:
"1. They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, are also farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Acts 20:32; Romans 6:5,6; John 17:17; Ephesians 3: 16-19; I Thessalonians 5:21-23; Romans 6:14, Galatians 5:24; Colossians 1:11; II Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14).
"2. This sanctification is throughout the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh (I Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 7:18; Galatians 5:17; I Peter 2:11).
"3. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after an heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His word hath prescribed them (Romans 7:23; Romans 6:14; Ephesians 4:15, 16; II Corinthians 3:18, 7:1)."
Lord willing we will be explaining and applying this glorious truth of sanctification in the coming weeks and probably months. If any of you would like a copy of the Baptist Catechism and the Confession of faith I will (D.V.) see that you get one. Just call me at 601-927-5070. Until next week, my prayer for all my readers is that the very God of peace may sanctify you wholly.