Volume. XXVII, No. 4
The Grace of God in Sanctification - Part 1
How do you deal with sin in your life if you love God? Can those of us who love God, and delight in His ways and love His Word and cherish His fellowship and rest in His grace and peace still sin? Should we, as God’s people, deal with sin? Dr. John Piper wrote, “Everyone who belongs to Christ needs to understand two things: First, we need to understand that loving God is the evidence that God has called us into His family, and that He is working everything in our lives together for good…the other thing we all need to understand is that loving God like this, and being called, and having His Spirit work all things for our good does not mean there is no longer sin to deal with in our lives.” The Bible certainly does not teach that a Christian can become spinelessly perfect before he reaches the other side of eternality. Therefore, we must know how to deal with sin, even though we are called into His family, adopted to be His children and are called saints. God is at work in us for our good all the time, and that work never stops until our earthly journey is over. If you and I do not learn this and recognize the significance of this truth, we will be much more vulnerable to Satan\'s attacks and accusations and to our own despairing human tendencies. For our walk with God would be based on our feelings and not on the promise of God. How shall we deal with our sins? We find a pattern in king David’s confession in Psalm 19:12-14. This psalm is essentially a prayer of the psalmist, a prayer for sanctification. What is sanctification? The Westminster theologians define “sanctification,” the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.
A Prayer for Purification (Psalm 19:12)
In this part of his prayer, he presents to us the difficulty of understanding one\'s errors or his own errors. He said, “Who can ‘understand’ his errors?” (v.12a) In asking, “who can understand his errors,” the psalmist implies that too many people do not know that they are living a defeated life – a life defeated by sin. Why? It is because sin has so totally deceived us, that we never really get to the point where we honestly evaluate its reality. In other words, most of us are not dealing with the root problem, our errors or sins. We spend so much time in our lives justifying our sin as a tendency of our personality or so-called by-product of a bad environment. We have become so good at coating over the reality of our sin that we don’t see it. Therefore, we don’t deal with it because we don’t even recognize it for what it is – that’s what is so dangerous about contemporary “psycho-therapy.” Because, instead of having to deal with the reality of our present spiritual condition, modern day psychology wants to drag up our past and find somebody else who is responsible for our problem.
Dear readers, we must deal with whatever the problem is in our life – that is us, our sin; our sinful behavior is not somebody else’s problem. Ultimately, we have to realize that any kind of spiritual victory begins only when we identify and eliminate the enemy. Have you ever wondered why God’s people today don’t seem to get many attacks from our spiritual enemy compared to God’s people in Biblical times? Could it be that Satan finds little reason and incentive to launch his attacks upon God\'s people today, simply because many of us have sort of signed a “peace treaty” with him and with his cohorts? It’s the same old story, “If you don’t know what you are shooting at, how are you going to hit it?” How are we going to eliminate from our lives what we don’t even identify as needing to be eliminated? If we are not even aware that we are constantly at war against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” (Ephesians 6:12) and are called to “mortify… members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry,” (Colossians 3:5) there is no wonder that we don’t get any attacks from our spiritual enemy. David understood that he had ignored and disobeyed God’s word even more than he was aware of. What he knew was enough to make him concerned; but his actual errors before God were still worse. The fact is that a lot of the time we cannot understand our errors, but that does not excuse us from them.
Knowing that he could not know just how many his errors were before God, King David wisely prayed this prayer, “cleanse thou me from secret faults.” (v.12b) David needed cleansing even from the sins and faults that were secret to him. Secret faults are the problem with a great many of us today as much as with the people of God in David’s day. They are secret from ourselves because either we have no idea that it is sin or because we think we are not sinners. Dear readers, do not be deceived into believing how good we are. We have got to recognize our sin and deal with it. Many a time, our sin can come out in anger and bitter words, unkind thoughts, unfair criticisms and judgments, self-conceit, lack of understanding, impatience, immoral thoughts, and even weak prayers. We need to deal with such sin! We need to bring them all before God and ask Him to purify us from these sins. F.B. Meyer wrote, “We desire the inner purity of heart. But this is peculiarly God’s prerogative. It is His work to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit. ‘Cleanse thou me.’” So, we have got to know our weaknesses and lay them before the mercy-seat of Christ and ask Him in prayer for forgiving grace – for the work of sanctification in purification cannot be achieved without prayer in the Holy Ghost!
(To be continued…)