TEXT: Romans 7:14-25
Last night, I talked to you about salvation in the past tense: “I have been saved.”
Have you been saved?
I have been justified, full and free, as a gift of grace. I have been cleared of guilt. Cleared. And I have been declared innocent, and I have been given the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Glory, glory! I have been saved.
Tonight, I want to talk to you about salvation in the present tense. I have been delivered from the penalty of sin. But there is a sense in which I am presently being saved. I am in the process of being delivered from the power of indwelling sin in the Christian life.
Are you being saved? Right now? Right here? Being saved? Being delivered from the power of indwelling sin?
That is my assignment tonight.
The passage before us is my testimony. I am going to read this passage, not so much out of exposition but, as a word of personal testimony.
I want you to see the striving for sanctification, and secondly I want you to see the means for achieving sanctification.
Some have said that sanctification is the pursuit of holiness. Others have said that it is the outworking of the indwelling Spirit of God. Properly put, it means to set apart unto and for the Lord. It means to be made holy. Tonight, I want us to discuss the thing around two categories: there is what we shall call “positional holiness“.
Tonight, this sinner stands in a position of total, complete holiness in the sight of a just God. That’s my position. That’s who I are. I’m a saint. 🙂
God imparted to me not only the righteousness of Christ, but also His holiness. If you stand justified, you have been give a position of holiness by grace.
But there is a second category. There is salvation in this aspect of sanctification is “personal, practical, and progressive.” It is something that takes place in you; it is the mind discerning who God is, who Christ is, what doctrine and duty is. It is the affections desiring Christ, desiring to do the duty which the doctrine implies. Sanctification is the volition determining to do what the mind has discerned and the affections desired. It is personal; it is what you do in your inward man. It happens in the heart; it happens in the soul; it’s what you do in the dark; in the chambers of your inner being. This is a process. It is never fully achieved in this lifetime. It is incomplete; eradication and mortification can never be perfectly done in this lifetime.
And yet while it is true that sinless perfection is a heresy, it is also true that sinful imperfection is a heresy. We seek to make progress, to go onward and upward with the Lord.
Having said all that, I want to share with you a difficulty in achieving this process. Have you noticed it is not easy being like Jesus. Why is it that some of us have been saved for over 40 years, and yet we have made so little progress? Why is it that our passions do not burn more fervently for the Lord? Why is that we do not know more of His precepts? Why is it on our best day, in our finest hour, in our most noble moments, we look yet at the holy law of God and in comparison have to say, “I am carnal, sold under sin?” I didn’t want to sin. I had sober, spiritual moments when I knew better, and I resolved to do better; and yet at the end of the day, I had need to repent and to confess my sins. Why is it that as I address the cream of the crop tonight, and yet you have need to explain that I know in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. To will is present is present, but how to perform that which is good, I find it not.
Our problem is that we have an enemy to our spiritual souls. And that enemy is in us. It is part and parcel to who we are. It’s the flesh. It’s the old man. And it’s the law of sin, not just sin as a principle, but sin as a living, abiding law that is in us so that when we would do good, evil is present with us.
Is that not just your experience?
Do you want some means to progressing in sanctification?
1. Jesus Christ
You see, justification leads to sanctification, and not vice-versa. When you begin meditating on what God has done for you in Jesus Christ, such meditation will sanctify you as your focus and devote your life in adoration and worship to Jesus Christ.
When you are weary and worn, think of the calvary road, and you will learn the doctrines of the cross and the atonement, so that when you are thrown into the lion’s den, you can exit unscathed, when you are thrown into the fiery furnace, you will not get singed; when you are at midnight in prison, you can sing praises to God.
2. The Scriptures
“Sanctify them by the truth; thy Word is the truth.”
Listen to me, if you would gain the victory day by day, week by week, month by month, you must saturate your soul with the Word of God. Sanctification takes place when you sit with your Bible opened, and the precepts of God’s begin to apply to your heart and mind, and this by the Spirit of God.
Listen to me, reading a sentence or two, a paragraph or so, even on a daily basis ain’t going to get it. Reading 16 chapters a day will get you through the Bible in three months, even with your Sunday’s off. 🙂 People ask me about Bible reading plans. I tell them to read Genesis chapter 1. That’s probably why it is at the beginning of the Bible. Read as much as you can. Then, when you get done, pick up where you left off.
3. The Spirit
2 Pet. 1:3 – his divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness
You and I have in us He that is greater than the world, greater than the flesh. Learn how to walk in the Spirit, to yield to the Spirit. Pray that the Spirit will carry on the warfare when you are weak. Are you struggling? That’s strong evidence that you are among the elect? When I was lost, I did not struggle with not sinning. The struggle came when God saved me.
4. Spiritual Songs
Learn how to sing the songs of the faith. Put the great hymns of the faith to memory. Meditate and sing them. As much money as you have, you couldn’t pay to sing a song. I’m intimidated about my singing, but when my song lay in the ICU, I would sing for two hours at a time. I would sing him to asleep with songs of Zion, and let him find rest.
You learn something about the love of God when you have children, and your children backslide. You learn about the heart of God, how He is grieved, how sorrowful God’s heart is when I turn south and sin against Him. The God of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory, after he has made you suffer, will make you perfect, established, strengthened, and settled.
How badly do you want to be sanctified? Are you willing to know pain and disappointment? Willing to go outside the camp and suffer with Christ.
6. Supernatural Providence
Here is a theological question for you. Have you ever noticed that when the temptation to sin is strong that the opportunity is not present? Have you ever noticed that when the opportunity to sin is strong the temptation is not present? Is this not a divine work of God’s grace? We are still shut up to and dependent upon God for our sanctification, for it is God at work in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Prone to wonder Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love,
Here’s my heart,
take and seal it,
seal it for Thy courts above.
(Come Thy Fount)
Man, you’ve gotta love David Miller. 🙂 His messages are so sincere and sweet. Tonight, I heard a message about sanctification from a man of whom the pursuit of holiness is in clear view for all to see. My heart has been refreshed and my will has been resolved to pant even harder for the heart of God. I pray that the Lord allows me the same opportunity to encourage and provoke others to love Jesus and pursue Christ-likeness in a similar manner through my life and love for my Savior. A great way to end the day. 🙂