Jesus prays for his disciples in John 17:17-19 that they would be sanctified.
17Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Sanctification is not something that just happens automatically. And if we are not intentional about being sanctified, then we will stumble through the rest of our Christian lives, too entangled and weighed down by our sins. We’ll be stuck at the justification phase as our only testimony and wonder what’s wrong with my Christian life? And so this week, we want to go over a bit of what sanctification looks like and how we can take practical steps to thrive in the newness of life in Christ.
Rom 12:1-2 – 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Sanctification involves our minds. Renewing of our minds. And sanctification also involves our bodies. Offering your bodies as living sacrifices.
So between justification, our salvation moment, and glorification, the completion of our salvation, everything in between is sanctification – sanctification of our minds and bodies.
To thrive spiritually, we need to be actively engaged in sanctification. If you remember, the 2 components are counting ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ.
In Romans 6, Paul begins by talking about what our minds need to understand — he illustrates through baptism. All believers are commanded to be baptized. Because that ceremony is the perfect outward demonstration of the inward reality accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross. We are immersed in water and this symbolizes the death of our old life. And we come out of the water symbolizing our new life in Christ. Just as Christ died and resurrected, we, too, move from spiritual death to spiritual life. That is what it means to be born again. We are a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.
It’s not like Jesus took up his cross and died for us and we do nothing. There should be a response. And the expected response is laid out in v11, that we ought to count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Count yourself dead to sin. Reckon yourself dead to sin. Count yourself or reckon has a mathematical connotation. It means to calculate, or to count as, or to count on something as being true.
Remember Rom 3:23 — for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This is our human calculation. No matter how hard we try, we fall short. It’s like we go to the cash register and it’s cash only and we have no money in our wallets. That’s how it is — we come before a holy and perfect God and we fall short.
But God gives us a new payment method — Jesus is our unlimited debit card. Jesus never runs out of funds like we do. And based on this heavenly calculation, our sins were paid in full.
This is such great news. God doesn’t look at us and say go back and repent more. We don’t have to go through hoops to merit his forgiveness. He doesn’t say, sorry buddy, you’re out of funds, go and do more penance to build up your morality savings account before coming back to me. Our debts are paid in full on the cross of Christ.
But you may say, this is not my experience. I don’t feel like my debts are paid in full. I repent but the very next moment my accounts feel like they are depleted. And my checks are bouncing all over the place. That’s how you feel. Empty, burdened by debts, unable to make good on any of your payments.
That’s why we have to do our part and obey v11 — to count ourselves dead to sin.
What does it mean to be dead to sin? I submit to you that one powerful way is to be dead to self.
We’ve been talking about how the core sin is when we enthrone ourselves at the center of our hearts. When we are at the center, we are totally engrossed with ourselves. We only think about ourselves. Our rights. What we are entitled to. What we deserve. How to make ourselves happy. How to live a life that is respectable in the eyes of others. How to maximize gain and minimize pain. This is the picture when we place ourselves at the center. And from this capital “S” Sin of self, all other small “s” sins are birthed.