Wednesday, December 3, 2014

An Unfinished Work

Temple Baptist Church - 12-3-2014
1 John 3:2
A.  When Christ shall appear, we will be like Him!  What a day that will be!  No more wicked flesh to subdue, no more spiritual battles to fight, no more failures to face.
B.  Until that day, we can only strive to be like Him.  One of the problems that many people face is a lack of biblical understanding in the area of sanctification.  John, writing this in his last days, declared that he was still a work in progress.
1.  The believer needs to understand what sanctification is not: it is not the eradication of sinfulness in the flesh in this life.  The Apostle Paul was one of the greatest Christians named in the bible.  He wrote almost half of the books of the New Testament under the influence of the Holy Ghost.  He was a Spirit filled man of God who continued to fail God during his ministry.  Paul made the lack of eradication of the flesh perfectly clear in Romans.
Romans 7:14-25  For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.  (15)  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  (16)  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  (17)  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  (18)  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  (19)  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  (20)  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  (21)  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  (22)  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:  (23)  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  (24)  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  (25)  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
2.  The believer needs to understand what sanctification is: sanctification can be biblically broken down into 3 different aspects which are clearly taught in out text verse:
a)  Positional Sanctification: the deliverance from the penalty of sin.  This takes place at the moment of salvation.  “Beloved, NOW are we the sons of God!”
b)  Practical Sanctification: the deliverance from the power of sin.  This is a work in progress.  “It doth not yet appear what we shall be!”
c)  Permanent Sanctification: the deliverance from the presence of sin.  This will be finally realized at either death or the rapture of the church.  “We shall be like him!”
C.  The world is too often correct with it indicts the believer for not acting like a Christian.  The believers were first called Christians by the unsaved at Antioch because they behaved like Christ.  The world expects us to be different and live a holy life when we profess Christ.
D.  The believer is too often harsh when judging other believers.  We expect God to be gentle and longsuffering with us while being critical of others when they do not live up to our expectations.
E.  It would do all of us good to memorize this verse for tonight as none of us have “arrived” and still fail in our flesh.  Paul said it well:
Philippians 3:12-13  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  (13)  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
F.  Now, let us take a look at Practical Sanctification. 
1.  Practical Sanctification is a gradual work.  2 Corinthians 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.  (Not only is our outward change gradual, but it is also different in each individual.  There is no such thing as a certain rate of spiritual growth that is uniform.  Never judge another person’s salvation nor their spirituality because of what you see or do not see in their lives.)
2.  Practical Sanctification is a personal work.  Romans 14:12  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.  (I cannot change others any more than they can change me.  God has a personal relationship with each of His children just as we have a different relationship with each of our children.  Too many people change outwardly through peer pressure and the change will not last.  Let God lead you; let God change you and it will last.)
3.  Practical Sanctification is a spiritual work.  Ephesians 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  (Many times, when there is no outward visible change, there is an inward struggle.  The Spirit of God takes the Word of God to bring about true conviction of the heart of the believer.  As saved and still sinful believers, we often battle in the inward man.  Paul said, “When I would do good, evil is present with me.”)
4.  Practical Sanctification is a perpetual work.  Jeremiah 18:3-4  Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.  (4)  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.  (I thank the Lord that He does not throw the clay away!  The little song says that the Lord made the universe in just 6 days but He is still working on me.  Paul said that he had not yet apprehended and neither have I.  You and I are not always what we should be but we are certainly not what we will one day be.  When we see Him, the work will be over with and we will be like Him.)
1 John 3:2  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

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