The Simple Secret to Sanctification

Sanctification is the process whereby God conforms us to the image of Christ. Sanctification is the growth of a believer in Jesus Christ. To understand sanctification, we need to understand our role in the process and God’s role in the process. And it’s really quite simple. Consider these two principles:

1) God makes us more like Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:18 reads, “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Spirit.”

The Bible is clear. God is the one who transforms us into the image of Christ. The word transformed carries with it the idea of a metamorphosis, major and fundamental change in one’s life. The last part of verse 18 explicitly says that it is the Spirit who does this work. Only God can change our hearts, minds, and lives to be more Christ-like. We are desperately dependent on God to grow in our faith.

2) God makes us more like Christ, as we behold the glory of Christ.

In verse 18 we see that the transformation happens as we behold Jesus. You might say that transformation is God’s part, our part is to behold Jesus. Continual beholding takes effort! It takes discipline to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. It takes the discipline of consistent Bible reading, prayer, and worship. As you read God’s Word and spend time with Him in prayer you are turning your heart towards Jesus. As you worship with God’s people, singing to Jesus and hearing from Jesus as the Bible is preached, you are gazing at Him in an extended manner. The word translated “beholding” has the idea of looking in a mirror. How do you look at yourself in the mirror? A quick glance or do you look intently? The answer is, we all look intently at our image in the mirror to make sure we are presentable. Sanctification comes as we gaze intently at Christ, not just quickly glance at Christ.

So your growth as a Christian happens through dependent discipline. Only God transforms, but God works through means. As you discipline your life to gaze at Jesus, God will work to make you more like the One upon whom you’re gazing. God has a role and you have a role. That’s why I appreciate Wayne Grudem’s balanced definition of sanctification:

Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.1

So, the secret to sanctification is really simple; turn your eyes upon Jesus and your heavenly Father working through the Holy Spirit will make you more like Jesus.
Pastor Wade

1Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 746.


One Response to The Simple Secret to Sanctification

  1. Marvin Yates says:

    Wow! Amen! That God’s light shines out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 4:6) His work in sanctification, conforming us to the image of Christ, continually giving us a glimpse of His glory, as we behold Him. To encounter this ‘life-transforming glory of God,’ as the ESV study bibles says. Should continually cause us to drink deep into this process and magnify His holy name, that He so deeply loves and cares for us.

    “This light is such as effectually influences the inclination, and changes the nature of the soul. It assimilates the nature to the divine nature, and changes the soul into an image of the same glory that is beheld. 2 Cor. 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.” This knowledge will wean from the world, and raise the inclination to heavenly things. It will turn the heart to God as the fountain of good, and to choose him for the only portion. This light, and this only, will bring the soul to a saving close with Christ. It conforms the heart to the gospel, mortifies its enmity and opposition against the scheme of salvation therein revealed: it causes the heart to embrace the joyful tidings, and entirely to adhere to, and acquiesce in the revelation of Christ as our Saviour: it causes the whole soul to accord and symphonize with it, admitting it with entire credit and respect cleaving to it with full inclination and affection; and it effectually disposes the soul to give up itself entirely to Christ.

    This light, and this only, has its fruit in a universal holiness of life. No merely notional or speculative understanding of the doctrines of religion will ever bring to this. But this light, as it reaches the bottom of the heart, and changes the nature, so it will effectually dispose to a universal obedience. It shows God’s worthiness to be obeyed and served. It draws forth the heart in a sincere love to God, which is the only principle of a true, gracious, and universal obedience; and it convinces of the reality of those glorious rewards that God has promised to them that obey him.” Jonathan Edwards.

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