Friday, August 15, 2014


The will of the Lord, for you.

As we cover the matter of "Being Filled with God's Spirit" in this month of August it is absolutely essential that we cover this subject. Sanctification. It is God's will for our lives. Scripture says so.

1 Thessalonians 4:3

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
For this is the will of God, your sanctification...

Sometimes our context in the sermon is a passage of scripture, even an entire chapter, or an entire book. Sometimes the context is the subject matter. Our subject matter today is one that can be found throughout the concourse of scripture. From the beginning to the very end we see God working in the matter of sanctification. If you've been paying attention through the last two messages, you should have picked up that when God fills us with the Holy Spirit other things get driven out. Last week we referenced the word fear. Paul would say in the book of Romans in Chap 8 that we have not been given a spirit of fear to fall again into slavery to sin, but we now have a spirit of adoption so that we can cry "Abba, Father".

Sanctification. What does it mean? What's it about?

I was shocked several years ago when in our home church (New Zion UMC outside Baltimore, OH) as I covered an adult Sunday School class for one of the ladies who was out that Sunday that no one in this adult class had heard of this word and this subject. I do recall one person said they had heard it before, but didn't know what it was. It's a bit unsettling to find out how many people called "Methodist" have no idea about this word, especially when our the founder of said "Methodism" when the man to bring it to the forefront. Now, coming out of a holiness church with the Nazarenes, this was my bread and butter. I've been around this subject for years. It's biblical. It's scriptural. It's God's will for our lives. In the service this morning we have heard different scriptures used in our liturgy pertaining to the subject. We should also take a look at the definition of the word.

Full Definition of SANCTIFY

 transitive verb
1:  to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use :  consecrate
2:  to free from sin :  purify
3 a :  to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to
   b :  to give moral or social sanction to
4:  to make productive of holiness or piety <observe the day of the sabbath, to sanctify it — Deuteronomy 5:12(Douay Version)>

Two things we will say about this matter of sanctification based upon the definition:
God wants to consecrate us, or set us apart from certain things. 
God wants to purify, or make us holy, freeing us from sin.
Take this scripture from 1 Peter in as we consider more about what sanctification means.

1 Peter 1:2

New International Version (NIV)
who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Let me say a little something about why so many Methodist have no idea or understanding of this subject by giving you a little background on the history of our extended family over in the Nazarene camp. In the late 1800's a Methodist Episcopal preacher by the name of Phineas Bresee leaves the denomination and heads out to Los Angeles, CA to start a new church. He and many Methodists of the day feel as if the church has lost it's focus on the personal work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer. The Methodist church has long been entrenched in the ideas of social justice and matters pertaining to the social issues of the day. This word sanctification has been lost in the lexicon on the Methodist and a band of people has trekked out to start something new where the word can be revived again. It is here that the "Church of the Nazarene" gets it's beginning. And, so there is a new branch in the Wesleyan historical tree. I could say a lot more here about the differences between the two denominations, but the matter at hand dictates that we stay focused on this subject.

What is sanctification?

 From our earliest recorded biblical history we see God setting things apart for himself. God creates all of this world. God's world. God creates everything in it. God's creation. It belongs to God. God creates human beings in the likeness. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Three in one. Body, soul & spirit. Man's likeness to their creator is in all ways similar. God is a person, just as we are. All that we are and have belongs to God. God created it. It is God's.

Then the unthinkable happens. In a moment, in a sneaky, camouflaged instant the devil swoops in and guides the creation off course. The creation begins to think that it can be "just like God", in every way. Not just a mere "image" of God, but God in all actuality. God made his rules plain and clear. Mankind is twisted and turned to follow different path. The nasty word known as sin enters the fray. There is now distance between mankind and God. The relationship is not as it once was. Something has created a gulf between the two parties and now the fellowship between God and man is broken.

Something needs to happen to fix this situation. It can be eluded to that the idea of sacrifice and blood was laid out here as the humans are told to leave the garden. God slays a young animal and the skin for that animal is used to cover their bodies. Our adult audience understands why. God is now in need of saving his creation. From what? From sin. Sin has corrupted and changed the creation. Instead of being focused on what God will's is for their lives the idea has filled their heads that it's ok to consider what I need for myself. Instead of allowing God to cover our needs, we now have a changed center in our hearts that focuses on us meeting our own needs. And, a child really doesn't know how to meet their own needs. Any parent present has gone through the painstaking ordeal of raising a child and trying to help the child understand that all they need to do is come to you and ask for help is they need it. Do not take this moment lightly. This is a lesson to all of us that God is trying to teach us something. For once in life, before we raised our own children, we were the children. And, we did the same thing to our own parents. A fixed reminder of our relationship concerning God is given to us in our earthly relationship with those entrusted to us to raise.

Salvation is the overall goal. Sanctification is a part of that salvation. God wants to set us apart for his own purposes. The way God does that is by setting us free from the things holding us back from service unto God. Namely, sin. Sin has a way of changing our hearts and mind to state of inward focus. We become the center of the universe. Our needs are what matter the most. Getting what we want tops the list. Thinking about ourselves becomes what is most important. We do all this because we are fearful. We fear our needs won't be met, so we take matters into our own hands. We fear other people either don't care or won't care, so we don't ask for help, from God or other people. We fear judgment, so we either say God doesn't exist or we make up silly pieces of doctrine to try and avoid the subject all together. Selfishly, we want some way that we can do whatever we want to do and still enjoy the blessings of God's wonderful world. Yes, sin has a twisted way of making us think that me, myself and I are what matters the most. This is what God seeks to set us apart from. This is what God wants to set us free from.

How does it happen? Where would we begin explaining such a perplexing idea?
I've been told to start at the beginning. Lets start with the expanse of our lives.

Our lives have a beginning and an ending. Birth and Death. We are finite beings. Our lives on this earth only last so long and then they are over. Lets the words of Solomon ring in your ears.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

New International Version (NIV)
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
    and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

During our lives on this earth, we seem to struggle with the idea of what we are here for. The prophet Jeremiah is one small example. As a young boy he is challenged with the notion that God wants to use him for some purpose. Maybe as a voice or a speaker for God Almighty. "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born I consecrated you." The bible versions here vary on the specific word used, but they are agree and mean the same. Consecrated. Set you apart. Sanctified.

In order to jump into this subject a bit deeper, lets expand our area in which to work.
 What if we turned this line on it's side and saw more of a graph before us?

The expanse of our lives is filled with any number of things between birth and death.
What are some things that make up your life on this earth? Start by filling in the blank squares on this graph with things that make up YOU. Family. Job. Spouse. Just to get started with a few. Money. Car. You boss. We see the graph beginning to fill up. How about "driving"? If you have to do that everyday then it's a part of your life. "Neighbors" could be another one. I hope you're as blessed as I am to have good ones. "Church" should be in a square here. The name of the town you live in might be an important square to fill in. What do you do for recreation? "Fishing" would have to be in my graph. Do you have family or friends you provide or care for? "Care-giving" might need to be up there somewhere on the graph.

Keep going to see how many squares you can fill in. All of this is a part of you. If your struggling to find things, maybe opening the UMC website @ and take a look at the "Social Principles" our denomination talks about. Do any of these make up a part of your life. We have made statements about "Abortion" or "Divorce". Even "Alcoholism" and "Human Rights" might be something important to your life. "Cancer" might have invaded a square in your life. "Animal Life" might be very important to you. Your pets are a part of your family, but going beyond that is the care of animal life and human cruelty. This graph could go on and on. There are any number of issues and events and problems and joys that make up YOU.

Now we come to a very important moment on the graph.
Where is Jesus in this world that makes up US?
Well if you've been paying attention through this year of discipleship, you'll remember that we started the year off by asking him into our hearts. There needs to be a moment when we invite him to come into our lives, into our hearts.

Revelation 3:20

New International Version (NIV)
20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Our lives don't begin with Jesus automatically in the graph. We need to invite him into the fray. Jesus wants to enter, but we need to invite him in. Until we do, he remains on the outside. Once we open the door and invite him in we can think of it as Jesus filling in one of those squares. He in here now.
Well, now that Jesus is in here, is he satisfied with simply being THERE in that one square? Any person who is taking this Christian life seriously has to know the answer here. NO, he is not content with simply being in your life. He wants to be all over our lives. What would happen if we let Jesus into our family life? Would it change it? How about our job? What would happen if I thought if my job as something being done for the Lord? What about church? "Come on. Isn't that a given?", you might say. And, I would look at you over the rim of my glasses because you know what church life can be like. Sometimes the people in here are the ones most in need of being reminded that Jesus needs to be the center of it all. What kinds of personal issues are we struggling with? What if we let Jesus into the areas? Now we are in need of revisiting the subject and title for today to re-evaluate what it is where are here to do.

God wants to sanctify us. There's a two fold meaning there we need to grasp.
He wants to consecrate us or set us apart. He wants to purify us or make us holy.
Think about these things that make up YOU. Is there anything the Lord wants to set you apart from? Is there any part of your life that needs purifying or cleansing? Something sinful that should not be the way it is? And, if God wants to do this in my life, how does it happen? How do we get there? How do I get Jesus into all these areas in my life?

Next week we will be taking a walk down the "Romans Road". There is much I could delve into from the writing of the Apostle Paul here, but I'll save all the Romans scripture because it opens the door to much more material than I can cover here today. There is some scripture from Galatians that I will use here that fits in very well. The Apostle Paul spent much time dealing with those who would pervert and twist the Christian faith for their own purposes. His audience in Galatia was no different. There were teachers who would twist the teaching around to try and hang on to some form of Judaism where they could control the people and be in control of their own religion. Paul shows them a different way.  This way involved following the example of Jesus. Living as he lived. Turning one's life over to God and dying to our own personal desires.

Galatians 2:19-21

New International Version (NIV)
19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

All the law could to was point out our sinful nature to us. Paul would explain that to his audience early in the book of Romans. The law itself has no redemptive power. We wonder why all our laws in this country seem to do no good. They means nothing unless there is a power in place enforce them. Spiritually speaking, we need someone or something in these areas of our lives to make things work the way they should. We have Jesus into the ways of our life. Now we want him all over our lives. Maybe we follow the way of Paul here in Galatians. "I die daily." Paul has given up control of his life and has allowed something else to run the show. Namely, the power of Christ. It is no stretch of the imagination to think that Paul would get up daily and turn all he had over to God. One a daily basis, this is how he lived his life. How would our lives looked if we did that? How would the graph look if Jesus were everywhere?
Well, this begins to give us some idea of what it might be like to have Jesus spreading his life to every area of our hearts. Is it a struggle to deal with your family? Turn that over to Jesus and let him lead the way into all of that. Is money and finances something you have trouble with? Die to yourself and turn the money issues over to Jesus. Allow him to be in control of your money. Is the future of well being of Thornville something that keeps you up at night? How about the future and well being of your church? Let Jesus lead the way into all of that and see what happens to your fears and worries. Jesus wants to be all over this graph that makes up YOU.

Lets think about it in terms of a math equation.
AS + ES -------> GF

Our "Absolute Surrender", i.e. we die daily + "Entire Sanctification" leads to our "Glorification".
We need to surrender. Throw up our white flag and say, "I've had enough". I'm tired of being afraid. I'm tired of failing. I'm tired of feeling guilty all the time. I need help. Can you help me Jesus? Can you take all this from me? And, he would be happy to. Take a look at this.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

New International Version (NIV)
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

One big important thing to not is that this does not happen over night.
We do not wipe out the graph of our lives in "one felled swoop". We take it one or a few things at a time. Not all at once. What are we saying when we claim "entire" sanctification. We are saying everything is taken care of, from "birth" till "death", it's all covered. If you can take care of all of that in one felled swoop, well, you're a better person than me. Can God do that? Can he swoop through and take care of all of this, all at once? He could. But, we need to consider the finite beings in which he is working with and how much they can handle all at once. We have a hard enough time handle one or a few things let alone all of this. Paul would urge his Philippian audience on this charge.

Philippians 2:12

New International Version (NIV)

Do Everything Without Grumbling

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

Notice the section title for this part of Philippians. Maybe "grumbling" should be a square in our graph. If it is, I am surely correct in thinking it might take some time to work all the kinks out of that area before we are living as Jesus wants us to live. Someday we are going to stand in front of Jesus, in front of God Almighty, and we're going answer for how we lived our loves on this earth. The Hebrews makes it clear to us. "It appointed unto men once to die, then the judgment." We one go around on this earth. We get one chance to work all this out. No reincarnation. No coming back again. We will leave this earth and stand in the presence of of the God who gave us life and breath. And, what will say? How will we answer if we failed to turn these areas in our life over to him? God's will for our lives is our sanctification. He wants to cleanse and purify us. He wants to set us apart so he can use us for His purposes. What if we won't allow him to do that? How are we going to explain that to him when we get there? I give a very stern piece of scripture to ponder.

Hebrews 6

New International Version (NIV)
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[a] and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites,[b] the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen[c] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

 God loves us. In God's love for us, the Lord has made provision to not just "cover" our sins, but to blot them out. To take of this sin nature within us. That's how much he loves us. Do you believe that God loves you? In order for any of this talk of "sanctification" to work out in our lives it has to begin just like our salvation began. In the beginning, we believed that we needed forgiveness. That we needed to invite Jesus into our hearts and lives. It is no different here. Do you believe that there are areas and issues in your life that God needs to help you with? Maybe he needs to separate you from some things. In doing so he declares that YOU belong to him and that thing or issue or even some person should not be a part of your life any longer. Sometimes he sanctifies YOU. Sometimes he sanctifies the issue or area and uses that thing for his purposes. You job. Your child. Your ability. You give it up to the Lord and say, "I don't call the shots any more Lord. You do whatever you want to do with this."

 It's an on going process. It doesn't happen over night. That's a lot of ground to cover all at once.
One last picture here should help make it clear what the Lord wants to do in our lives.

The whole process is thought of as salvation. God is saving from something. Namely, sin. It takes time to do that. Part of our salvation is our sanctification. It takes time to clean a dirty pot. Many of our helpers on a Saturday Community Dinner can tell you that. You don't dunk a big roaster pan down into the water and lift it out and, "Viola", it is clean. This new life in Christ begins with our believing. If we believe we are sinners and we believe we need forgiveness, then we come to Christ and we invite him in. We find new life. We find mercy and hope. Sanctification begins the same way. Do you believe that you need to be purified? Do you believe that there are things we need to be set apart from? It begins with believing. Do you believe that God can do this in your life? Sanctify you? 

Would you like a moment to talk things over with the Lord?
Start at the beginning. See where it leads.


  1. Thank you for sharing your message on shanktification (sanctification), Jeremy! We sometimes forget that we have a whole section in our hymnal under this categorical title! Onward to perfection!