There is a Neccesariousness to This!


The way we grow in any area of our life as Christian, whether it is our marriage, our ministry, our friendships, it is by growing in Christ ourselves. Our marriage, or our parenting getting better is not some magical thing apart from us growing in Christ. Yes. It is a mysterious thing how this happens. God causes us to grow. Yes, he does. But it is not apart from us. Yes, our justification, that is our right standing before God has nothing to do with us. It is solely and totally based on the finished work of Christ. But our sanctification has a lot to do with us. We grow as God works in us, and we work out what God is working in us. Apart from us working out what God is working in us, there is no growth. And apart from God working in us, there is no growth either. What God has joined together, we cannot separate. Our work and his work. 

 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)



The other thing we can’t confuse is our sanctification (growing) with our justification (right standing). Our salvation is not based on our sanctification. That is our salvation is not based on our working it out, it is not based on our growth as a Christian. It is based on Christ. It is very dangerous to confuse these two, and many people do confuse the two. 

Our growing in Christ (sanctification) flows out of our justification. If there is no justification, that is if you have not responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ (his death, burial, and resurrection) by repenting of your sins and trusting in him and him alone for your salvation than there can be no sanctification. And no matter what you do, no matter how moral you are or how obedient you are to the commands of Christ, it will not bring you one step closer to salvation than if you were just to sin your whole life away. Living for Christ does not save you. Only Christ living and dying and rising again for you can save you. 

If we are saved, though, we can live for Christ. Based on the power of Christ living for us, his death canceling our sin debt and it’s reigning power over us, we can walk in newness of life because we actually are new creatures in Christ. And this matters. It matters. And it is all based on Christ and the union we have with him through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. 

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:4-10, 14) 

And yes my friends there is a neccesariousness to this. Does growing in Christ save us? Does following Christ save us? Does being obedient to Christ save us? No. No. No. A thousand times no. But we most assuredly must also realize, if we are not growing in Christ, if we are not following him in an active path of discipleship, if we are not being obedient to his commands and call on our lives, why would we think we are justified. 

“For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” (Hebrews 3:14)

 So yes, do not ever confuse justification and sanctification, there is a big difference. But also know this. While your justification is perfect, it cannot be improved upon. There is no way to improve upon the work of Christ. Your sanctification will most likely be imperfect. In fact it will be. Be ok with taking 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. Be ok with taking 2 steps forward and 3 steps. Be ok with some days only going backwards. 

But never give up on following Jesus Christ. It is a necessary part of our salvation. Only those who overcome because Christ has overcome are guaranteed to not have their names blotted out of the book of life. “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ (Revelation 2:7) 

“The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’ (Revelation 2:11)

 “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ (Revelation 2:17) 

“The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, (Revelation 2:26) 

“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. (Revelation 3:5) 

“The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” (Revelation 3:12)

 “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21)

 

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (Hebrews 10:39)

 There are those who use the idea of justification as an opportunity for the flesh, that is to keep on sinning and living according to their own will and for themselves. I dare say there is probably not an salvation there. And there are those who work really hard at doing all the right things, go to church everyday, read their Bible all the time, serve at soup kitchens, and go on missions trips, basing their salvation on those things and trying to get their assurance from them. I dare say they are probably not saved either.

But there are those who know that nothing in their hands they bring. That there is nothing they can do good enough or bad enough. That is all Christ. That they deserve nothing. And that is it were not for Christ, they should rightly and justly be thrown into hell forever. 

 “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16) 

And out of a humble gratitude towards this great and precious gift they have received, they seek to conform their lives to the image of Christ. They see Christ as they open up his word, and they want to be with him and be like him. It’s hard to separate who God is from what God wants. And those who have been taken hold of by Christ, see this. They want what Christ has to offer because they see there is a treasure to be had there. They want what God commands because they realize Gods commands are not grievous. They want these things, because they want God. 

There is a neccesariouness to this. There is a confirming that happens, as your will is conformed to his will. Not because you have to but because you want to. And not perfectly but imperfectly. The overall tenor of your life, which way is it headed. 

“He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking[a] and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” (Romans 2:6-8)

 Do you sin mainly because you think God has to forgive you? Or do you serve God because you think you have to and will get something in return for it. Or is there something different going on? We are after something different. God is after something different. God is after new hearts, because God creates new hearts that march to the beat of a different drummer. Are you marching friend?

 "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained." (Phillippians 3:12-16)