“Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
Current Christian orthodoxy lends itself to a “gospel” that says, in effect;
- We are saved by accepting Jesus Christ as our Saviour;
- We are sanctified by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord;
- We may do the first without doing the second.
This is a doctrine that is based upon selected extractions from the scripture while turning a blind eye to the whole counsel of God’s Word. To that extent it represents a supermarket reading of the scriptures, one that enables a man to select what he wants from what is offered by the Lord of Glory and leave behind that which doesn’t appeal. As such it is a gross distortion of the Holy Scriptures, and one that attempts to divide Christ; no man can receive part of Christ; He is all or He is nothing. He will be Lord or He will not be Saviour; that’s what the Word teaches.
But there has emerged in modern times an improvised theology on the doctrine of sanctification that has contributed much to the production of artificial saints; yet if we take the time and care to prayerfully examine the scriptures, we will find that they present us with an understanding that differs markedly from that favoured in our pulpits today.
What the Word teaches, and what experiences reinforces, is that sanctification, or holiness, “…without which no-one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), involves an intense narrowing of the interests of everything in this world in general and an intense broadening of our interest in God and His Word in particular. It means being made one with Jesus to the extent that the disposition that ruled Him will become ours and rule us.
Sanctification is holiness; the same Greek word – hagiasmos – is translated as both “holiness” and “sanctification”, depending on context. We read that “Christ Jesus is our wisdom and righteousness, our sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30); “God’s desire is our sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3); “God has chosen us for salvation by means of sanctification of the Spirit and faith in truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13); “we have been chosen by God the Father for sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience” (1 Peter 1:2).
We are to be “partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10); “we are called to serve Him in righteousness and holiness all the days of our lives” (Luke 1:75); “we are to perfect ourselves in holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1); “we are to put on the new man, the one being created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24).
It is written that ”Judah, whom God loved, profaned the holiness of the Lord and invented other gods” (Malachi 2:11); the great danger for modern Christianity is that it is falling into the deception into which Judah fell and inventing a different God to that revealed in the Holy Scriptures.