Becoming Like Christ
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph. 5:1-2)
Question 34: What is sanctification?
Answer: Sanctification is the work of God’s Spirit, (2 Thes 2:13) whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, (Eph 4:24) and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness. (Rom 6:11)
Regeneration (the new birth) is a sovereign, monergistic, unilateral, work of God. In regeneration God gets all the glory and we get none. However, in sanctification (the process of becoming like Christ), the Holy Spirit guides, directs, instructs, and convicts, and we do our part to walk with the Spirit and to listen to his guidance, direction, instruction, and conviction. In Philippians 2:12, Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,…” Thus, we are to work out our own salvation. Not save ourselves, but rather the salvation we now possess should be worked out in our lives to display the evidence of the Holy Spirit. But then Paul immediately says in the next verse, “for it is God who works in you, both to will [to give the desire] and to work [to give the ability] for his good pleasure.” Thus, we are to work out our own salvation while God gives us the desire and the ability to do so. And as we do this, as we gaze into the beauty and glory of the face of Christ, “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Thus, while regeneration is a monergistic work of God, sanctification is synergistic. The Holy Spirit does his part, but we must do ours.
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