Part 19 of 22

The Believer’s Sanctification and Transformation

From its definition in Part 18, it is clear that “sanctification” of the believer is God’s work from start to finish. The believer’s sanctification has two stages.

  1. Sanctification is initially endowed or provided by God in order to preserve the unsaved person, so that He might gain them in salvation. God first brings them to trust and receive Christ as their personal savior. Thus, He causes and qualifies them to “in Christ …stand before Him holy and blameless in (His) love” (Eph 1:1, 3-4).
  2. Then in a second stage, after salvation, God works to “turn the heart” of the believers (2Cor 3:15-16) that “He has foreknown … predestinated …and called” (Rom 8:29). He works in their life to inspire the believer’s affection; thereby He wins the believer and separates him unto His self. Having our hearts won, we are inspired to begin to choose to agree and co-operate with Christ in our living ... we then are being “changed from glory to glory” (2Cor 3:18).

Here in this installment I want to discuss the second stage. God’s “inspired sanctification” in the believer is a further, ongoing, work of God in the life of every already saved, regenerated, believer.

Some say you need to “commit yourself to the Lord” or “give your life to the Lord” as a requisite to be saved. But this is not possible for the unsaved because before our salvation we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). Not until we are saved by the Lord and empowered by the indwelling “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2) do we have the standing or the wherewithal (Christ’s resurrection life in us) by which we may separate ourselves unto the Lord in our daily walk. Sanctification is only by the Lord’s provision and work within the believer.

It is only after we have received, grown, and become “established” in God’s grace and Christ’s life that we may have come to what Paul calls “the obedience of faith.”

Romans 16:25-26 Now to him (God) that is of POWER TO STABLISH YOU according to my (Paul’s) gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of THE MYSTERY  (OF “CHRIST IN YOU,” Col 1:27), which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH:

It is God’s work to save and “establish” us, and then bring us to “the obedience of faith.” The renewal of a believer’s mind is a major key to the transformation of the soul. Inward sanctification of the believer is led by the renewal of a believer’s “mind.”

Rom 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but BE YE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR (soul’s) MIND, (so) that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

How is the mind to be renewed?

Some say we need to study and memorize Scripture to renew our mind. While it is true that we do need Bible knowledge and proper understanding of the grace gospel and doctrine that applies to us today, Paul commended the Philippian believers to genuine and effective mind renewal of a different sort.

LET THIS MIND (PHRONEO, MINDSET OR ATTITUDE) BE IN YOU, which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).

Mind renewal here is renewal of the mind to a new “mindset.” This is not learned information but rather a new “attitude of mind.” Reading the second part of this verse, we should then ask, What was Jesus’ mindset or attitude of mind?” Jesus’ mindset was to remain in union with the will of the Father.  John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son (Jesus) can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

Jesus’ mindset was to lay down not only His physical life but also His self-soul life to the Father. Jesus submitted His will to the will of the Father. Thus, Jesus did not live His life independent of the Father, but rather He lived by the will of the Father. One might then ask; how do we live by the will of the Father? The answer is for us to cling to Jesus who is so close at hand – indwelling our spirit. As we abide in union with Christ, His life and will, we are then in union with the will of the Father – the Father is in Him (John 17:21-23). This oneness or union with Jesus and the Father is the object of Jesus’ desire for all believers of all ages.

John 17:21-23 That they all may be one; as thou, FATHER, ART IN ME, and I in thee, that THEY ALSO MAY BE ONE IN US: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And THE GLORY (EXPRESSION) THAT THOU GAVEST ME I HAVE GIVEN THEM; THAT THEY MAY BE ONE, EVEN AS WE ARE ONE: 23 I IN THEM, AND THOU IN ME, THAT THEY MAY BE MADE PERFECT IN ONE; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Each believer is being sanctified unto that union of oneness whereby the world can see the glory of (the fruit of) The Father’s life manifested in the world. Union with Him separates our heart from everything else.

Now, back to “the mind”; why is Paul concerned with the renewal of the believer’s mind? It is because every Christian needs to have their fallen soul-mind renewed if they are to enjoy their inheritance by union with Christ. Romans 8:6 (NASB) For the MIND SET on the flesh is death, but THE MIND SET ON (in accord with) THE SPIRIT is life (ZOE, spirit life) and peace. The renewal of our mindset or attitude will refine our objectives and lead our soul into union with the very righteousness of “CHRIST WHO IS OUR LIFE ( Col 3:4a).

Obviously “understanding” is located in the mind, but it needs to be guided by “the Spirit of truth.” “And be constantly RENEWED IN THE SPIRIT OF YOUR MIND [having a fresh MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL ATTITUDE]” (Ephesians 4:23 AMP)

Our mind needs to be set in accord or in union with Christ’s mind. Paul refers to “the eyes of the understanding (Eph 1:16) because our physical walk follows where our eyes lead us. Likewise, our walk in the Lord follows where we set our mind, as the eyes of our being. Jesus is “the way, the Truth and the life,” and “now the Lord is that Spirit” (2Cor 3:17) who is our source of “wisdom and revelation.”

Ephesians 1:17-18 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND REVELATION in THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM: 18 THE EYES OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING BEING ENLIGHTENED; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

How can believers be more wholly sanctified unto God in the practical experience of their daily living? Sanctification is empowered by “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” who is now close at hand, living and working within every believer’s spirit.

There are a few elements that enable us to grow in the practical out-working of our sanctification.

1.      One element of our sanctification does come by studying and meditating upon His written word. 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Our Lord prayed to the Father concerning His Jewish disciples: SANCTIFY THEM THROUGH THY TRUTH: THY WORD IS TRUTH(John 17:17).

Paul declares “Christ... loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He MIGHT SANCTIFY and cleanse it with the washing of water BY THE WORD (Eph. 5:25, 26).

2.      Then also, we are being sanctified in our walk by listening to, cooperating with, and being “led by” the sense of His indwelling “Spirit of life” (Rom 8:2a) as He indwells our spirit (1Cor 6:17). Romans 8:14 For as many as are LED BY the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For one to grow up from a “child of God” (Rom 8:16), to become a grown up “son of God” (Rom 8:14), is to have learned to be “led by” the indwelling “Spirit of Christ.”

Romans 8:9b…Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Gal 5:16 I say then, Walk in (in accord with) the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  Gal 5:25 (NIV) Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 

The renewal of our soul’s mindset comes to us by the Father’s ongoing work to remold our fallen mindset; that we might come to live in accord with Christ’s “Spirit of life.” Sanctification is a new mindset that brings us to live by, live unto, and in union with the immediate will of the Lord. The Lord trains us in and by our daily living as we experience, endure, and sometimes suffer, the day to day circumstances and situations of life.

The Father works through the “all things” of our life, to brings us to enjoy Christ’s rest and peace in our souls, as we learn to live in accord with Him and His will for us. Philippians 2:13 For it is GOD WHICH WORKETH IN YOU both TO WILL and TO DO of his good pleasure. This renewal work of God goes on day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet THE INWARD (SOUL) MAN IS RENEWED DAY BY DAY.

After salvation all our life-experiences are then matters of sanctification to bring us to genuine holiness. Christ’s righteousness is being brought into our living by the work and hand of our loving Father; working to “conform” us to the “image His Son.”

Romans 8:28-29 And we know that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THEM THAT LOVE GOD, to them who are the called according to HIS PURPOSE. 29 For whom he did foreknow, HE ALSO DID PREDESTINATE TO BE CONFORMED (symmorphos, jointly formed) TO THE IMAGE (ikeon, profile) OF HIS SON, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

An “image” is merely an empty representation the real thing, as a glove is in the image of the hand. God is working to remake our soul’s mind, emotion, and will, so as to be a living, willing, conformed vessel (Rom 9:21), which Christ’s “Spirit of life” may fill and flow through. When in union and accord with Christ our soul bears His very life. God’s work by Christ’s “Spirit of life” within man’s spirit lifts the soul of man to a level far above the mere animal life. He would have us to be “spiritually minded” and endued with Christ’s very “life” ( Col 3:4a) and “nature” (2Pet 1:4b) in our soul.

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

2 Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The believer’s ongoing sanctification ultimately leads to a genuine metamorphosis in their soul. The Lord oversees the trials and difficult situations of our life, using them to turn our heart to the Him. He is turning our hearts from the temporal to the eternal realm of “the Spirit of the Lord,” whereby we may become transformed in soul. He leads us to transformation “from glory to glory.” Our soul takes on the characteristics of a newly imparted element; it is the very “Spirit of the Lord,” and which had not always been welcomed in our soul. Then, “the glory of the Lord” is able to be expressed in the believer. The Lord’s glory flows from His abode in the believer’s spirit, to fill and “transform” their soul’s mind, emotion, and will, to be expressed in the believer’s living upon the earth and for eternity.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ( WEYMOUTH ) Now by "the Lord" is meant the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, freedom is enjoyed. 18 And all of us, with UNVEILED FACES, (BEHOLDING AND) REFLECTING LIKE BRIGHT MIRRORS THE GLORY OF THE LORD, ARE BEING TRANSFORMED (metamorphosized) INTO THE SAME LIKENESS, FROM ONE DEGREE OF RADIANT HOLINESS TO ANOTHER, even as derived from the Lord the Spirit.