“SANCTIFICATION” – WHAT EXACTLY IS IT? BY KIANG P LEE

Greetings friends, wherever you are on this earth, I hope the word I share with you today will be helpful to make your day as purposeful as it is a step toward your destiny in life!

The word sanctification maybe as far-fetched and puzzling as a foreign language for many. Yet, in Christian thought, its basic meaning is as vital to a believer’s salvation, as material sustenance is to his physical body. It simply means an act of regeneration or renewal of something or someone for a specific purpose or design. In Christian thought the work of regeneration cannot begin in the life of the believer until the death of the “false self” and all its dreams and aspirations. Thereby, it means the birth of the “new self” in Christ with all of God’s blessing of a newfound relationship. In the “new self” the believer is set apart for a divine purpose. So, sanctification means death and rebirth. Jesus said it like this, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:5-7).

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Baptism of Jesus, Depiction of Spiritual Regeneration, Artist: Grigory Gaagarin (Wiki Commons)

It is natural for humans to be afraid of death. Death is the reality of our human existence. From the day we were born, we are set on a path to the epitaph on our grave stones. But God did not create man for death, but for immortality. He is our Father, and we are His children. He is immortal, therefore we are destined for immortality. Christ, who is the personification of immortality for man, came and changed death to life. (Matt.1:23) Paul tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.6:23). He pointed man upwards to the promise of eternal life from our heavenly Father. In place of the grave stone, we hear our Father say, “I am not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Luk.20:38). He sent His Son, who says to us, “I am the way, the truth, and The Life” (John 14:6; John 11:25b-26). And isn’t that what life is about…to have someone show us the way to a life that’s true and authentic? The immortalized passage from John rings out clear through time, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish (death) but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Paul said, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death itself… Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? …But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:26, 54-56). God’s promise of immortality gives us hope in life, for it brings victory over death. Jesus never minced words when He said, “I am the resurrection” (John 11:25a) That, in essence, is the meaning of sanctification. We lose our fear of death when we live in hope of what the Father has promised, and what Jesus has already done and made death redundant and made us live as conquerors. The key words are ‘living as conquerors’ – that’s to say the life of regeneration in the Spirit puts to death the “false self” so the “true self” with the seed of immortality may live and regenerate us.

So, the underlying meaning of sanctification is the work of regeneration of the Spirit in man to not allow death to be the final answer to man’s destiny, but immortality through Christ. The Spirit’s work of regeneration is encapsulated in Paul’s words, “As it is written, ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep for the slaughter.’ But no, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom.8:36-37). There is an ongoing death that is the work of sanctification and renewal the Spirit is doing in our lives to prepare us for eternal life. Like seeds, we must first die before true life can be restored. But unlike nature which is hardwired by God to have this divine attribute, man has to use his mind under the Spirit’s move to make a deliberate decision to live out the meaning of sanctification.

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Death – not Man’s Lot. Immortality is God’s Gift. Old St Peters Church, UK (Wiki Commons) 

Sanctification means the death relating to the demise and final death-knell of the “false self.” Yes, this is like living the crucifixion of Jesus, but on a personal level: “For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. For we know our old self (“false self”) was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should be no longer slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him (“true self”). For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom.6:5-11) So, the work of sanctification is about the removal of sin from our lives – that is what facing death every day means, so we can enter immortality.

False Self:

Author Michael Murphree, in a rather succinct and honest appraisal of the “false self,” says, “In our fragmented world, we human beings tend to cluster into homogenous cultural, racial, or economic groups, building relationships on our commonality rather than Love (God is Love). Self-centered rather than other-centered, we limit relationships to ones that require no sacrifice on our part. Then we protect these artificial relationships, created for our convenience, while we play at being persons. Too selfish to Love those who are different from us, we settle for synthetic relationships and shallow personhood.” (The Trinity and Human Personality, Pg.60) In our fallen depraved nature we live this way of life which ultimately leads to emptiness and not life. There is only one solution: death! Yes, every day when we live life we are putting to death this old “false self” and come out more than conquerors in our “true self.”

True Self:

Murphree goes on, “A healthy relationship with God requires two qualities found in the Trinity. The first is a recognition of our distinct individuality (personhood). The other (is) God is Love.” (The Trinity and Human Personality, Pg.49). But here is the wonder of our respective gift and calling, not only do we see and relate with the Triune God through them, but through Christ we relate with one another in a true sense of friendship as the Father designed. The Bible tells us that in all our gifts, we form the very “Body of Christ.” (1Cor.12:12-14) Just as in the Trinity they find fulfillment not in themselves but in each other, so we find our fulfillment in Jesus through the power of the Spirit. Thus, Paul says, “You are complete in Christ.” (Col.2:10)

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 Immortality-God’s Gift to Man. Fountain of Eternal Life, downtown Cleveland, Ohio, USA (Wiki Commons)

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or email me on bulamanriver@gmail.com.

Blessing:

Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessing of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven you and make all things concerning you possible in Triune Living as a Bulamanriver.*

Kiang,                                                                                                                                                   

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Kiang

* Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my Book.

All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.

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