jQuery Slider

You are here



By Chuck Collins
May 5, 2021

With respect to my legalistic Presbyterian friends, sanctification is not becoming more holy; it's becoming more wholly dependent on God's holiness that may or may not result in my moral improvement (but probably will). Luther and Cranmer say this will happen naturally - as a grateful response to the transforming power of God's one-way-love; Calvin is a little less optimistic that it will happen naturally, and tells us we'll need a little prodding on our back sides.

With deference to my Roman Catholic friends, the goal of sanctification is not cleaning up our acts in preparation for heaven (or time served in purgatory) because God loves ungrateful and wicked people like us, even to the point of death on the Cross (Luke 6:35). Sanctification is not first about becoming better people, or gradually leaving behind the gravitational pull of the flesh, the world, and the devil. The only time we will need God more than we do today is tomorrow when our selfishness is still intact and sins are subtler. Sanctification's purpose is not to wean us from our need for God.

And with esteem for my revivalist, pietistic evangelical friends, sanctification is not about more obedience to the latest and greatest set of spiritual disciplines that are guaranteed on the book cover to bring us incremental righteousness. No! It's growing in appreciation for God's imputed perfect righteousness - his promise to never leave us nor forsake us, and to love us with an everlasting love that not even death can touch.

Sanctification is not growing in faith, but being overwhelmed with God's faithfulness - from faith for faith (Rom 1:4). There will never be a day when God loves us more than he does today; neither will we ever in this life be more righteous than we are right now because being Christian means this: we are clothed/covered/accredited with God's perfect righteousness.

Sanctification is becoming who we already are in our standing with Christ - the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21) - towards the goal of greater dependence on him, and trust in his acceptance and delight in us. It's living "into" and "out of" our justification? Gerhard Forde got in trouble for saying that sanctification is getting used to our justification. There's some truth in this.

Richard Rohr got in trouble for saying that the starting point of discipleship is understanding that we are already there. If he meant that justification is the starting place and the finish line, I believe he is right. That's why Christians never ever grow beyond our need to hear the gospel of God's love for sinners.

The Christians in Ephesus already had truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, and the Holy Spirit, but you wouldn't know it if you google YouTube sermons for the "whole armor of God." These are different facets of what it means to be Christian, for heaven's sake! Paul doesn't say, "Go out in search of what you already have" (like the man on an ox looking for an ox). He simply says, "Take them up and put them on" (Eph 6:13,10).


Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top