Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Changed from glory to glory" (Part I): Called and appointed to be holy

I. Called and appointed to be holy

The moment we put our faith in the Lord Jesus, we have been counted as holy in God’s sight based on the finished work of Christ on the cross (Rom. 3:24-25; 4:5-6). This is to say that judicially, in God’s sight, we are already just, righteous, and perfect. He no longer sees our sins because it has been washed away by the blood of Christ and that we are covered by His righteousness through our faith in Him (Rom. 5:19; 1 Cor. 1:30-31; Rev. 7:14). It is by grace that we are saved.

However, the story doesn’t just end in our being saved / justified. After saving us from the penalty of our Sins, He also expects us to "be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:1-2; cf. Eph. 2:1-10). God didn't just call us unto a saving relationship with Him. He also called us to walk in all holiness to the praise of His glory!
“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Pe. 1:15, KJV) 
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” (1 Pe. 2:9, KJV)
It is an amazing thing that God has counted us righteous in His sight (justified us) not by our own efforts, but He wants us to be practically righteous (i.e. Christ-like) as well.  This isn’t about maintaining our justification, but evincing the justification we had received once and for all. Concerning the difference and connection between justification and sanctification, Dr. Millard J. Erickson observes:
"...Sanctification is a process by which one's moral condition is brought into conformity with one's legal status before God. It is a continuation of what was begun in regeneration, when a newness of life was conferred upon and instilled within the believer. In particular, sanctification is the Holy Spirit's applying to the life of believer the work done by Jesus Christ...  
...In order to  focus more sharply the nature of sanctification, it will be helpful to contrast it with justification. There are number of significant differences. One pertains to duration. Justification is an instantaneous occurrence, complete in a moment, whereas sanctification is a process requiring an entire lifetime for completion. There is a quantitative distinction as well. One is either justified or not, whereas one may be more or less sanctified. That is, there are degrees of sanctification but not of justification. Justification is a forensic or declarative matter, as we have seen earlier, while sanctification is an actual transformation of the character and condition of the person. Justification is an objective work affecting our standing before God, our relationship to him, while sanctification is a subjective work affecting our inner person." (Christian Theology, Part IV, 46, pp. 968, 969)
"I am the Light of the world,” (Jn. 8:12) says Jesus Christ, and as Christians we must reflect His light which is in us by showing people that we changed! (Mat. 5:16). This has been God’s plan long before He called us; even before the world began:
“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. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:28, KJV) 
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10; cf. 1:4-6, KJV) 
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,..” (2 Tim. 1:9, KJV)
You see moral transformation and sanctification isn’t optional.  It is every Christian’s duty and privilege at the same time. Striving to be more Christlike day after day manifests our deep gratitude to all the great things God has done in our lives.

But the question should be asked: Are we capable of doing this? Do we have the natural ability to reform ourselves for the better? This will be discussed in the next entry of this series.

To God be the glory!

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