The following is based upon real discussions on the topic of experimental/manifest sanctification. Though not verbatim, it nonetheless accurately represents the gist, tone, and sentiment behind much of what has been encountered.
CHRIS WANNAGROW: One of the most overlooked aspects of the Christian walk and warfare, even woefully so in my own life, is the need to grow in sanctification.
PAT PERFIKASIS: Grow in sanctification? That sounds like freewill “progressive sanctification” talk. We do not “grow” in sanctification. We are already perfectly sanctified in Christ, by His finished work on the cross. Adding to one’s sanctification is like trying to add to one’s atonement, redemption, or justification.
CHRIS WANNAGROW: I disagree. I believe that the Bible is clear that growing in our manifest sanctification should be a priority for all of us. There are multiple passages in the Bible that evidence….
PAT PERFIKASIS: Stop right there; I’m telling you, there is no such thing as “manifest sanctification.” You will not find any such language in Scripture. God clearly says in…
1 Corinthians 1:30 “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
Christ alone is my sanctification, through the Holy Spirit. I do not need to go about trying to ‘establish a sanctification of my own‘ by “adding to my sanctification,” or “growing in holiness” (as if that was even possible). For true Christians, there is no such thing as “progressing in sanctification.” It’s just bad theology, even borderline heresy. This is the kind of thing I would expect from Methodists, from Wesleyans, not from you.
CHRIS WANNAGROW: I can tell you feel strongly about it; however, the Bible is clear. Consider…
2 Corinthians 7:1 “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves [katharizō; G2511; purify, purge, consecrate, cleanse] from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
That word perfecting [epiteleō; G2005; to fulfill further or completely, to execute or perform] denotes an increase, progression, or growth… it is an increase, progression, and/or growth in both the experience of, and the manifestation of (even the actual performance of) holiness [hagiōsynē; G42; holy sanctity].
Yes, the Christian has been truly and perfectly cleansed, truly and perfectly purified and purged in the eyes of God, by the finished work of Christ. However, during our earthly sojourn, we are commanded to experimentally cleanse/purify/purge ourselves by turning from, by abstaining from all manner of fleshly and spiritual wickedness. In so doing, we are perfecting holiness, which is essentially the same as growing in holiness, or progressing in sanctification.
Consider that Zodhiates (in his work, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament) deems hagiōsynē to be synonymous with both hagiasmos [G38/holiness, sanctification] and eusebeia [G2150/godliness, holiness]. We would do well to pay close attention to how God uses these, and other such interrelated terms (and how they all serve to reinforce one another). Take for example eusebeia; notice that the same precept is covered in…
2 Peter 1:5-9 “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness [eusebeia; G2150; godliness, holiness, piety]; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound [pleonazō; G4121; to increase; do, make or be more; by extension, to superabound], they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”
To “add to” [epichorēgeō; G2023; to furnish, add, fully supply, minister to, show or afford (as by deeds)] is the same thing as making manifest, feeding/nourishing, and thus increasing in. We are to strive to increase in, and to thoroughly manifest, godliness/holiness/holy sanctity/piety, as well as the other oft-mentioned virtues. We are to do so even to the point of abounding (increasing richly; richly growing and progressing) in such. Thus, we are to take concerted action, we are to make real effort (by the mercies of God and by the means He has provided) to grow in grace, knowledge, and love — but also in our (manifest/performed/executed) holiness, which is sanctification, seeing that it is the same exact Greek word. This is why we are both exhorted and commanded, as follows, in…
Romans 6:19-22 “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness [hagiasmos; G38; sanctification, holiness, godliness]. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things [is] death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness [hagiasmos; G38; sanctification, holiness, godliness], and the end everlasting life.”
Notice the use of the word unto. We are (or at least… should be) actively yielding our members servants to righteousness unto [manifest, experimental, performed] holiness, which (once again) is sanctification (or perhaps more accurately, an important aspect/facet of it, given its multifaceted, spiritual nature). We are clearly “set apart” by the purpose of the Father, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit, for holy use to do these things.
Also, going back to the word “abounding” (as covered in 2 Peter 1:5-9), consider also…
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 “Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. 12 And the Lord make you to increase [pleonazō; G4121; to super-abound, to do, make or be more] and abound [perisseuō; G4052; to overflow in abundance, exceed (over and above) a fixed/certain number or measure] in love one toward another, and toward all [men], even as we [do] toward you: 13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness [hagiōsynē; G42; holy sanctity] before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”
PAT PERFIKASIS: This all sounds like works religion, like false holiness, like going about to establish a righteousness and sanctification of your own. You should be trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for all of these things. He did the work for us because God knows that we… can… not… do any of this… ourselves.
It’s all legalism in a real sense; you’re on dangerous ground. You see these commands and presumptuously think “I can do them,” when in fact you can’t (not at all, no one can). These commands exist not for us to try to keep, obey, or otherwise enact them, but to show us our total inability to do so. They are designed to teach us that we can’t do any of this stuff ourselves, and that Christ alone has to do it for us, which is what He did at the cross. We are not to try to go about doing for ourselves, what Jesus has already done for all of His elect. All God expects from us, or commands from us, is love and faith… that’s it… and even that He has to give to us, and work in us.
The real problem is that you don’t seem to realise that just because God commands us to do something, that doesn’t mean He wants or expects us to actually do it. No! What He wants is for us to look at these commands, and then to look to Jesus to do it (i.e., to have done it) for us. He wants us to see these commands and say “God, I can’t even, I’m not even going to try, but I’m so thankful that Christ did it all for me so that I don’t have to. I can just sit back and rest in Him and in the liberty I have in Him!“
I thought you understood all of this; I thought you believed the Gospel!?! Why are you going back to dead works and false religion? You really need to refresh yourself on passages like:
1 Peter 1:2 “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…”
1 Corinthians 6:11 “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.“
2 Thessalonians 2:13 “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth…”
Ephesians 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for her; 26 That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Hebrews 13:12 “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.”
Hebrews 10:12-14 “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.“
Hebrews 9:13-14 “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Jude 1:1 “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, [and] called…”
1 Corinthians 1:30 “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
CHRIS WANNAGROW: This has nothing to do with works religion…, going about to be justified by the law…, trying to establish a righteousness (or sanctification) of our own…, or any other such thing. This is simply about being obedient to the word of God and striving to grow (to increase in, even progress in) the areas of our Christian walk wherein He both exhorts and commands us to grow — all in light of the passages you just quoted. Scripture needs to be harmonized, not set against itself. All of these passages point to the same overall truth.
Thus, the passages I quoted are not passages to be ignored, or dismissed, or flippantly cast off “onto Jesus” (in some false sense of humility or “true holiness”) since such an interpretation sets the commands of God completely at naught. You’re essentially teaching people that except for the commands concerning love & faith, you can disregard (as to practical application) everything else.
However, what you fail to realise is that God does not command us to do the very things He promises to work in us both to will and to do (through union with Christ and by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit) only to have us turn around and say “no God, I’m not going to do what you commanded. In fact, I’m not even going to try, since I already know that I can’t do it… Therefore, I’m just going to “trust” the fact that Christ already did it for me, and I can rest assured that I do not have to worry about obeying any of your commandments, or chasing after any of this “holiness” stuff going forward.”
Talk about horrible theology! It’s no wonder that so many of our churches, households, and individual lives are such a mess. Your teaching sets people up to fail. What you and others like you don’t seem to understand is that, though His imperatives are impossible to follow naturally (i.e., in our own carnal, fleshly strength), God works in His people supernaturally, even through His own divine strength, to accomplish in us, what He has ordained for us.
We are without excuse; we are truly without excuse — seeing that we are to draw the power, the strength from Him, to do what He would have us do, using the means that He has ordained and provided. He doesn’t expect perfection from us because He has already provided and found perfection in Christ Jesus. He doesn’t expect perfection from us because we aren’t doing any of this to establish a righteousness of our own, but in light of our union with Christ — who is our Righteousness. God doesn’t expect perfection from us, but He wants us to be zealous for Him, and zealous concerning our walk in and before Him.
And yet, these truths are so rarely taught, so commonly overlooked and under-emphasized, and in many cases, so heavily demonized, that many of us (myself included) have fallen far behind in such matters… far, far behind. We need to stop making excuses; we need to trust and obey God — who Himself, through the Apostle Paul, gave us clear wording regarding our need to walk in (and thus to grow in) manifest holiness/sanctification. Just look at:
1 Thessalonians 4:1-7 “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort [you] by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, [so] ye would abound [perisseuō; G4052; to overflow, be in abundance, exceed, be over and above…] more and more [mallon; G3123; more fully, in or to a greater degree]. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification [hagiasmos; G38; holiness, sanctification], that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification [hagiasmos; G38; holiness, sanctification] and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness [hagiasmos; G38; holiness, sanctification].
Notice the importance of our walk; notice the language to not just abound but to abound more and more; notice the reference to the commandments of the Lord (i.e., walking in them); notice that there is a real-time will of God that pertains to our current, real-world, sanctification. Notice that one part of that manifest sanctification, out of many, is to abstain from fornication; notice, that (as Christians, as those already born again, and already perfectly sanctified in Christ), we are called unto holiness. These are all God’s words, not mine. You can ignore, dismiss, or even vilify them… but you do so at your own risk.
Also, you just quoted 2 Thessalonians 2:13 but notice how that passage ends; it ends with 2 Thessalonians 2:17 “…Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.” The end result of being perfectly sanctified in Christ, by the Spirit, is to be manifestly sanctified, and increasingly so, even to the point of being “stablished in every good word and work” — all as the Lord wills and enables.
Moreover, consider a passage like Hebrews 12:14 “Follow [diōkō; G1377; to run, follow, or chase after; to pursue] peace with all [men], and holiness [hagiasmos ; G38; holiness, sanctification], without which no man shall see the Lord…” Clearly the emphasis isn’t to merely look back at the sanctification the Lord Jesus Christ already established for us, in Himself (at Calvary), and to stop there. Clearly the emphasis is to run hard after (chase/pursue) a real, manifest, experimental holiness/sanctification. This is something that should sober us up, and stir us up, quickly! Especially since God specifically states, through the apostle Paul, that without such holiness (without such manifest sanctification) no man shall see the Lord.
PAT PERFIKASIS: See, there you go; I knew it! “You can’t see God unless you engage in dead works and make yourself holy…” Got it — your a legalist spewing legalism. How much “manifest holiness” is enough?!? How good and holy do you have to be? More accurately, how good do you have to deceive yourself into thinking you are, before you can see God? What passage tells you how holy or sanctified you have to be before God? Does it say you have to be holy 5% of the time, 20%, 50%, 70%? News flash for you… If you aren’t perfectly holy 100% of the time… then all of your so-called “manifest sanctification” is but filthy rags, and God wants none of it! This is all just works talks! Just legalism! Just bondage! Christians are sanctified in Christ, period! He is my sanctification. There is no holiness in me. This is heresy. The Bible talks about people like you in…
2 Corinthians 10:12 “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
See that? See how that passage ends? It says Not Wise! You, sir, are not wise! You want to be able to boast in your works, your own righteousness and sanctification, and your own supposed “growth, manifesting, and/or progressing” in such… all so that you can be seen of men, having the praise of men, but none of that is godly; none of that is God glorifying. In fact, you’re going about trying to steal the glory from God… as you talk about your own supposed “manifest sanctification!” What a joke.
CHRIS WANNAGROW: Nowhere have I stated anything about grounds for boasting; I haven’t mentioned a single personal work (good or bad); and this has nothing to do with measuring myself by, or commending myself before men. However, this has everything to do with reading the passages honestly, and objectively, and bowing to the very words, and grammar, that God has sovereignly ordained to use. I’m simply quoting Scripture, in context, to show that He wants us to grow in these things.
Sanctification has to do with being set apart from the worldliness, even the sinfulness, of the world, and from the carnal/fleshly/unprofitable things of this life. Sanctification also has to do with being set apart for God’s holy use. We are to grow in the manifest distancing of ourselves from the corrupt and filthy things of this world; from the useless and distracting things; and from the unedifying and unprofitable things. We are to grow in the manifest involvement of ourselves in true worship, in true service, and in other such spiritual and godly matters (which include not only good works but…)..
PAT PERFIKASIS: See… “good works,” and “manifest this, manifest that“… and “growing in this, progressing in that…” all of it is still dead works.
You want so badly to show people how holy you are, and yet, you’re not nearly as holy as you think you are. In fact, there’s nothing holy about you. You pretend like you think your not holy by saying things like “how woefully you fall short, blah, blah, blah” but just the fact that you are bringing up all of this works-talk proves that you are trusting in it, trusting in your obedience, trusting in your holiness and sanctification, and I suspect at this point, trusting in your own righteousness and justification (going about to establish all of these things for yourself instead of trusting in Christ, and what He established for His people)! You really need to repent! If you haven’t noticed, none of the true brethren are even talking about “manifest (or experimental) sanctification.” It’s just you, the legalists, and the Arminians and other freewillers… always seeking to bring people back into bondage!
CHRIS WANNAGROW: We’re agreed on this point, there is nothing holy about me in and of myself.
PAT PERFIKASIS: Here we go with the false humility again…
CHRIS WANNAGROW: However, if I am in Christ, then I have this promise, I can honestly say that in Him, I am ‘His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that I should walk in them‘ [see Ephesians 2:10].
My walk in the good works that God has ordained for me; my progression in such things (since a walk, step after step, is a progression), is all of Him. I take no credit for it; I have no room to boast. All of my increase/growth/abounding/growing/progressing (to whatever degree it happens) is of Him. Moreover, nothing in the passage states how many good works He has ordained for us — only that He has indeed ordained such for us. However, we are still exhorted… and commanded to grow, to abound. We cannot do it in and of ourselves; however, God has given us means, and with these means we have both the command and the promise declared to us in…
Philippians 2:12-13 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.“
That term work out is katergazomai…
PAT PERFIKASIS: Oh great… more Greek…
CHRIS WANNAGROW: That term work out is katergazomai [G2716; to perform, accomplish, achieve, bring about, and thus — at least by extrapolation, to manifest…]. We are to perform, accomplish, bring about, even manifest… our own salvation (not in the sense of establishing a “salvation” of our own, but in the sense of living out the day-to-day reality of already being saved in Christ Jesus).
Thus, the manifest result, even the evidence and effect of being already perfectly sanctified in Christ, is the working out of our own salvation, the working out of our own holy sanctity, the manifesting of our own temporal sanctification, and so on. We do so through mortifying the flesh, denying ourselves, bearing our cross, and walking in the very good works that God afore-ordained for us. This has nothing to do with dead works and everything to do with walking watchfully, with awareness, and with purpose…
PAT PERFIKASIS: “Purpose…” like a “Purpose Driven Life…” maybe? What are you Rick Warren now? What next? Prosperity “gospels?” Tongues? Back-flips down the aisle at church? Do you really think you‘re “manifesting” holiness and sanctification? Do you really think it’s smart to go about talking about how holy you are, and how you are growing in holiness, and progressing in sanctification? Which is what you are really implying, even if you are not outright saying it, with all of this progress talk.
CHRIS WANNAGROW: Again, this isn’t about me, my “good works,” my “personal achievements (or lack thereof), or anything other such thing. Nothing in what I state, think, or feel, leaves me room to brag about anything; my boast is in Christ alone, period. However, that does not give me leave to ignore the clear passages in Scripture regarding growing in grace, knowledge, wisdom, and yes, even holiness/sanctification. My desire is not to just grow, but to abound… and not just to abound… but to abound more and more. I cannot do that in and of myself. I cannot do that flying solo. It takes God of course, but He uses means, and the means He uses include the Bible, godly preachers, godly elders, godly brethren, godly fellowship with them all (especially in a church setting), godly sermons, godly studies, prayer (especially), meditating on God’s work, and all of the other means and methods He has provided unto us.
I say none of this to boast… as if I have achieved… not even close! I say this due to my own very real lack of achievement, lack of substantive progress, and lack of the use of aspects of the above means. I say this in light of my felt need to grow and abound, and out of a sincere, God-given desire to do so, despite my current languishing. So please, be careful about imputing false motives and intents; be careful regarding twisting words and meanings; and be careful about ignoring a multitude of Scriptural references so as to maintain your current set of traditions and understandings (more accurately, misunderstandings).
PAT PERFIKASIS: I’ll “be careful” for nothing, and I’m not “misunderstanding” anything; I hear you perfectly. Despite your words to the contrary, it’s clear to all who ceased from their works, and who trust in the Lord alone (and His work), that all you want is glory and honour from men. Whereas, I want to give the glory and honour to Christ alone! He is my sanctification, I have none of my own, and I seek to “progress” in none of my own, and want nothing to do with going about to establish any of my own. I trust Christ for everything and have no intention of being entangled again in bondage. Next you’re going to be proclaiming freewill…
CHRIS WANNAGROW: I have no desire to proclaim freewill or any other such error. Nonetheless, I am beginning to believe you wholeheartedly when you say that you have no desire after, and want nothing to do with, growing… abounding… in the experimental holiness/sanctification that God has called us unto.
I was really hoping to have an honest discussion about the matter. I am convinced that God truly wants His people, His quickened holy ones (often translated as saints in English) to be so in real life, that is, to be holy before men, and not just in title, divine judicial standing, or in a viewed-from-glory / viewed-in-Christ-only sense.
I will say this though… it’s not just about walking in good works, growing in love, knowledge, grace, and other such needful things. Part of our growth in, abounding in, manifest sanctification has to do with our chastening in Christ. Consider,
Hebrews 12:7-11 “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness [hagiotēs; G41; sanctity, the state of holiness/moral uprightness]. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness [dikaiosynē; G1343; righteousness, uprightness, justice, integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting] unto them which are exercised thereby.”
You see, there is a manifest righteousness, a yielding [apodidōmi; G591; giving, rendering, restoring] of the fruit of righteousness, that is associated with heavenly, Fatherly chastening. Such chastening leads to fruit-bearing… and what does fruit-bearing look like at first? How does it all play out? Doesn’t the fruit start off unseen, or mostly unseen, and then grow, manifest, enlarge, so as to become of use? Just as with righteousness, there is that yielding (producing, deliverance) of the fruit of sanctification, even of manifest holiness. The Bible is so utterly clear on this, that it troubles me greatly that you (and others like you) are unwilling to see these things. Why do you harden yourself against the truth? Look at how clear the precept is in…
1 Timothy 4:6-8 “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself [rather] unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
We are to exercise ourselves [gymnazō; G1128; to exercise vigorously, to train (hard)] unto… unto…. unto… godliness. If the focus was merely on us being holy/sanctified in Christ, due to His Person and work alone, and looking back to the cross alone (without any regard to that aspect of salvation called sanctification that we are to work out day by day), then why would the command go out to exercise ourselves… unto… godliness? And it is indeed a command, seeing that verse 11 specifically states “These things command and teach.“
Clearly all good ministers of Jesus Christ are to both command and teach God’s people to exercise themselves unto manifest godliness/holiness/sanctification, striving to live out all that such encompasses. Anyone who opposes this clear and obvious truth is not behaving as a good under-shepherd, as an apt pastor/teacher in this regard. They dishonour their position to the extent that they go about proclaiming that God wants us to ignore these commands, and instead, to “simply look to Christ” in the sense that you use the term.
How about consider this other clear passage:
Titus 2:9-15 “[Exhort] servants to be obedient unto their own masters, [and] to please [them] well in all [things]; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
Christ saved us, redeemed us, even from all iniquity, so that He may purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. We are indeed to be those who are zealous for good works, not those who are going around denouncing and demonizing such works (and vilifying those who encourage and exhort unto them). Most certainly, we should not be those who go about asking foolish and absurd questions like “well, where does it say in the Bible precisely how many good works we have to do to be holy. How to we define and measure the precise quota?” That’s nonsense talk, talk that I (sadly) have engaged in myself in times past… but enough already. We are commanded and exhorted to both hear the word of God, and to do (and to work out what we hear). We are to be zealous of good works, which includes doing all those things that “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” It includes (a) teaching us to be, (b) even exhorting one another to be, and (c) personally striving to be: deniers of ungodliness, and worldly lusts.
We should be stirring each other up to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world… manifesting these things, working them out with fear and trembling, yet realising that any and all successes that we have in such is due strictly to God working in us both to will, and to do, of His good pleasure — and what is His good pleasure? I suggest that it is the very good works for which we were created (as His workmanship), to walk therein, even the good works He ordained for us from before the world was. We are to strive unto these good works, incite one another unto them (again, stirring each other up unto them), exhorting unto these good works, and girding our loins, being sober, so as to get off of our bottoms and actually do what God would have us do:
1 Peter 1:13-16 “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.“
PAT PERFIKASIS: You should hear yourself? It’s all work, work, work; command, command, command, law, law, law, legalism, legalism, legalism. I don’t think I’ve heard you mention the phrase “imputed righteousness” once in this entire discussion.
All of your words are meaningless; the Bible is clear that Christ is my righteousness and sanctification and that, alone, suffices for me. You need to look back at all of those passages I gave you wherein it says that it is GOD, not man, not human effort, but GOD (The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) WHO SANCTIFIES. I am perfectly sanctified in Christ, this is what the Bible teaches. Sanctification is in/of/by Him. It has nothing… it has zero to do with us, our works, our efforts, etc.
I don’t know, maybe you mean well, maybe you don’t, but ultimately what you are doing is trying to ensnare people, depriving them of their liberty, bringing them back into bondage via legalism. I can’t believe how far you have fallen from grace. Are you now so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect, made sanctified and “holy,” by the flesh? Have you forgotten the verse that says “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Why are you trying to bring yourself, and others, back into it with all of this “manifest sanctification” talk?
CHRIS WANNAGROW: Sadly, we’re going around in circles at this point. I’m going to wrap this up shortly but one to address this final point. I really think you’re getting tripped up over the time aspect as it relates to sanctification.
PAT PERFIKASIS: Wait… what “time aspect” are you talking about? Where in the Bible do we read about a “time aspect” to holiness and sanctification? Sounds to me like just another made up term used to justify your erroneous stance. The only “time aspect” we see in the Bible is when God made Christ to be for us (for Christians that is, maybe I shouldn’t say us) sanctification. When Christ was made our sanctification, we were perfectly sanctified in Him, period, end of story, no need to babble on about manifesting, and “time aspects.”
CHRIS WANNAGROW: Regarding the time aspect, as stated in the past, we are indeed fully sanctified by the completed act of the Father, in/by/through Christ, as effectually wrought out in us by the Holy Spirit. This sanctification is from eternity based upon the finished work of the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.
When the Father chose His people in Christ, choosing them even from before the world was, He simultaneously sanctified them, setting them apart for His glory, and for His holy use. This is a from-eternity act! We are sanctified from eternity in accordance with the Father’s divine purpose, and in accordance with the full reality and realization that the Lord Jesus Christ would accomplish the victory.
However, in actual time, in actual earthly time, God’s people were (and thus, are) fully sanctified by Christ, by His completed salvific work on the cross. And yet, in some point in our own past, we are effectually sanctified upon our quickening, upon our regeneration, when we are born again from above, by the Spirit of God (at which point, He applies the efficacy of the finished work of Christ to our hearts and minds experimentally).
And yet, still being fully sanctified per all of the above, we are continuously sanctified, experimentally/experientially sanctified, even manifestly sanctified, throughout our earthly sojourn here, by the ongoing workings of the Holy Spirit in us, and for us.
This holistic consideration of sanctification is biblically accurate. Again, sanctification is not of ourselves (though we work it out, manifesting it). Whatever “progressive sanctification,” or growth in subjective/manifest sanctification we experience in time, can only be of God, of His working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Our walk and growth in such things is truly the outward manifestation of that sanctification we already perfectly have (after the inner man) in Christ, through His union with us, and abiding in us, via the effectual work of the Spirit of God.
So please, consider everything in the proper time context. Consider who is working and who is manifesting. Consider that we are called to purify ourselves, being already perfectly purified in Christ. We are called to put away our sins, even though Christ has already fully put them away forever. We are called to strive, to labour, to walk more and more as God would have us walk, even though Christ walked perfectly for us. We are not to habitually, wantonly, commit sin, walking in worldliness, walking after the flesh as the course of our life. We are called to repent, believe, trust, and obey…. ongoingly. That is why we read in…
1 John 3:3-9 “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth [hagnizō; G48; morally sanctifies/purifies] himself, even as he is pure.”
The clear command and exhortation can also be found in the following passages…
James 4:7-10 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and [your] joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”.
1 Timothy 6:11-12 “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after [diōkō; G1377; to run/follow/chase/pursue after] righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”
Note that in Romans 6:15, the apostle Paul, by the Holy Spirit asks (hypothetically) “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?” His response is clear: God forbid [let it not be!]. But notice what he goes on to say in verses 16-22:
Romans 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to… righteousness… unto… holiness…. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things [is] death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit… unto… holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
The Christian is redeemed, set free from sin, set at liberty to do good and to serve God. As a result, we are both commanded and exhorted to yield our members servants to righteousness…unto holiness, so that we can have fruit… unto holiness. This is all active, “walking in,” manifesting, “living out…,” and “working out” language. All of it is in light of what we already have perfectly in Christ.
Again, because we are perfectly justified in Christ, we can strive to walk (and we can have success in walking) justly, uprightly, righteously, and even holy. Not perfectly, but we do not need to do it perfectly, because we are perfectly righteous, and so on, already in Christ. Can’t you see? Because of what we already are in Him, we can yield fruit unto righteousness, walking in righteousness, even though we are not yet (manifestly) perfectly righteous, being in this body of death.
My prayer for myself, my family, and for the brethren at large is that we will indeed manifest the reality of this sanctification, growing in it, even abounding in it, all as the Lord wills and enables. If He blesses the means that he has provided unto us, if He blesses the fruit, then it will grow forth, and abound, even more and more.
PAT PERFIKASIS: I hear what you are saying but I’m not having it; I’m not going back to works religion. I’m just going to trust Christ, seeing that I’ve been just fine worshipping Him, following Him, ceasing from my dead works; ceasing from trying to establish a righteousness and sanctification of my own; ceasing from works of the law; and just leaving it all in God’s hands.
All of my works are filthy rags. Anything I try to do is just tainted with sin. Nothing good comes from me, so I’m not even going to entertain all of that “manifest sanctification” nonsense, I’m not even going to try. Why attempt (and fail) to do that which Christ has already done for me? It’s foolishness. I’m just sad you fell for it and that you don’t trust Christ enough to leave it all behind, and rest in Him.
It’s a shame that you seriously believe that you, that you… can obey God, do good works, and make yourself more holy and sanctified. What total and complete arrogance. You’re really deceived and I hope God opens your eyes because all you’re doing is looking at yourself, trusting in your self, boasting in yourself, etc. True Christians know better; they see through Satan’s deceptions, and they won’t fall for such legalism.
CHRIS WANNAGROW: God judge between us Pat Perfikasis, and between our words. I too will leave it at this. My only hope is that you will consider the biblical proof-texts, and the associated arguments, and really strive to evaluate it all in context. Nonetheless, God’s will be done.