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  • Joshua Kristine

1 Corinthians 16 & 2 Corinthians 1-4

Going Deeper

1 Corinthians 16 & 2 Corinthians 1-4 (3.4.23)

Grab your Bible and let’s go deeper into an important passage found in 2 Corinthians 3.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Today we are going to look at personal maturity also known as “Progressive Sanctification”.

In our sin, mankind has tried everything possible to improve or change what is broken about us.

This is why the self-help section in the book store is by far the biggest.

This is also why TV shows like Oprah or Dr. Phil are so popular.

This is why many modern day churches who teach from the pulpit “10 ways to be a better you”, instead of the full and authoritative Holy Scriptures, are so highly attended.

In this, “self-help” teaches that you just need to make an external modification or adopt a new manual set of actions and you will change. But that change is always temporary.

Earn it, buy it, be it, think it, get it, take it, make it, etc. The trap is this: None of these changes will really change us or make us complete.

Our efforts towards all of this stuff are always going to fail us and ultimately leave us wanting more. WHY?

Because no amount of external modification can restore you from death to life, from sin to holiness, from condemned to forgiven, from lost to found, from incomplete to complete. All of that stuff is just external modification!

What God is interested in is the inside of you, the core of “who you are”. The kind of change God wants for us is an internal transformation.

Pastor Tim Keller says it well, “Jesus longs for us to experience an organic change through a new inter-dynamic (which is only found in Christ) not just a mechanical compliance through external actions (trying to be like him or please him by just acting out the Christian lifestyle)”.

C.S. Lewis helps set the table for what we are desperate for if we are ever going to truly change! He says in Mere Christianity:

“Christ says ‘Give me all. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. Hand over the whole natural self … all the desires, those which you think are innocent, as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”

Jesus is saying I want to become your reason for doing everything. I will be your power for change! Praise God He pursued us. He chose us. He saved us. And He will sanctify us. Without His grace we are all dead men walking!

Now that we see the constant failure of external, manual, man-made, self-help, temporary change, let’s look to personal change via Jesus Christ. To do this, we must understand what God is doing in our sanctification.

What is sanctification?

First off, sanctification is the process of something that is changing for the better or purifying or refining something from unholy to holy and impure to pure.

A right understanding of sanctification must be considered under its three tenses.

1. There is a very real sense in which all of God's elect have already been sanctified at salvation:

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

In our salvation and rebirth there is a holiness--a sanctification needed for a holy God to receive us as worthy of His presence.

2. There is also a very real sense in which those of God's people on earth are progressively being sanctified:

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Paul makes it clear that through the Christian life we are constantly being changed into His likeness.

3. And there is also a very real sense in which the Christian's (complete) sanctification is yet future:

Revelation 21:27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

And as Christians, we are to grow more and more in sanctification just as we once used to grow in our flesh in sin.

Romans 6:19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

We must realize that sanctification is holistic. It includes our soul, our thoughts, our actions, and our bodies.

This means that sanctification is not complete until the Lord returns to give us new resurrected bodies by which we are finally glorified and ready to enjoy God’s eternal presence forever.

Unless this threefold distinction can be carefully held, we are bound to be confused. So today we will look at all three of these faces of sanctification. The faces of how God changes His people to glorify Him.

1. How Change Begins: Sanctification/Regeneration

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

First of all: We must understand that the greatest change one can go through is being made alive in Christ.

Second: Notice that change in Christ is not like the temporary changes we can put upon ourselves. He makes us a new creature. What else can you and I do that does this? Nothing!

But in our regeneration in Christ: The old, dead, sin-hardened creature is gone. We are, through God’s gracious act of regeneration, a new creature.

Our old self, dead in sin and unrighteousness, is passed away. And our new self in Christ is born. This is what we call regeneration.

Regeneration: The secret act of God by the power of the Holy Spirit by which His life and His spirit are imparted to believers.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

In God’s sovereign and perfect will, He regenerates dead and depraved hearts to come to life. This is truly the greatest gift one can be given and the most significant and lasting change a human life can go through.

Now, how does one know they are saved?

The evidence of regeneration is not just the initial response of faith, or even in repentance and belief.

But is found in the real evidence of a changed life. This is what we call progressive sanctification.

The difference between progressive sanctification and regeneration is the difference between an infant and an adult.

At regeneration we are made alive. We are born again. We are infants. Wonderfully chosen children of God.

But beyond the excitement for new life and a simple faith, we are terribly equipped for the battle awaiting us.

Soldiers are needed in battle. Trained, strong, vetted, tested, matured soldiers are needed for battle. That is why we must not just change at salvation, but God has designed us to keep changing and growing! That is why progressive sanctification is so critical.

2. How Change Continues: Progressive Sanctification

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

A working definition of progressive sanctification is: A progressive work of God in the regenerated man/woman that helps us fight sin and temptation, mature in our faith and obedience, and become more and more like Christ in our day to day lives.

Sanctification is a constant, progressive renewing of the whole man, whereby the new creature makes war with indwelling sin and ongoing temptation and lives unto God.

This is the work of the Holy Spirit working in and through you changing you from a self-centered person to other-centered person.

In Malachi 3:1-6 it says, “[God] is like a refiner's fire”. It says He is NOT like a forest fire or like an incinerator's fire.

A forest fire destroys indiscriminately. An incinerator consumes completely. God does not bring this kind of fire on His people because He says He will not. But verse 6 says, “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” For His people, He says He will be a refiner's fire and that makes all the difference.

A refiner's fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner's fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner's fire refines. It purifies. It refines and separates out the impurities that ruin its value, it burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact and far more valuable and useful than it was before.

This is the gift of progressive sanctification. This is the change God wants us to constantly be in. His refining fire.

What is important to know about our progressive sanctification? Life in the refiner's fire is hot! Hear me today: sanctification is not easy.

We are talking about FIRE here. And therefore, purity and holiness will always be a painful thing. Just like working out our bodies in the gym or by running to get in shape is not easy or painless. There needs to be a proper "fear and trembling" in the process of becoming pure.

God’s passion for purity is never flippant. It says He is like fire to us and fire is a serious thing. You don't fool around with it. Purity and holiness come through the refining fire.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Are you experiencing greater and greater freedom as you mature in Christ and He sanctifies and refines and purifies you along the way?

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Do you see real change in your Christian walk? There is TRUE ongoing change for those in Christ, for those who press into Christ daily, for those who surround themselves with others who will purposely press them into Christ.

Are you passionate for your personal sanctification? Are you passionate for the sanctification of your brothers and sisters? This is discipleship! Are you comfortable, free of personal change? Or are you on fire? Are you pursuing the flames of God's purifying fire? Because it will change you.

Praise be to God that He reached out his hand of grace and offered His son as our perfect substitute and His Holy Spirit to continuously work in the hearts and lives of His saved children. To refine them, to sanctify them, to brighten their testimony, so that others could also one day be glorified and join us at the eternal feast honoring the King of Kings.

This brings us to …

3. How Change Ends: Sanctification/Glorification

Again, Paul says in our passage of emphasis today, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The progressive change that happens in this life can be described in terms of holiness or glory—sanctification or glorification.

We should be amazed and sobered that this life is not just a waiting period for that day.

You are being changed now “from one degree of glory to the other”. You are being glorified. That is, you are being sanctified unto glorification. This is God’s plan of constant change in our personal lives. And from the change He makes in our personal lives, He carries into our family’s lives, our club’s life, and our culture’s life.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Praise God for this change He is working out in us. May we press into Him every moment and embrace His holy and perfect refiner’s FIRE as He progressively sanctifies us unto eternal glory.

By His grace and for His glory

Joshua "Shepherd" Kirstine

Soldiers For Jesus MC

Chaplain Council

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