Sifting, Sin and Sanctification

30 Sep

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Yesterday was a watershed moment for me. You will find below the encouraging thoughts the Lord gave me, compiled from both the Sunday school lesson and sermon yesterday, with some key verses (that are examples of, but by no means exhaustive defenses of the truths illustrated). I am grateful for the faithful and sound teaching of men like Dr. Bruce Ware (for the Sunday school lesson) and Pastor John Kimbell (for the sermon).

The Sunday school lesson was on the positional (already secured) and progressive (not yet attained but in process) aspects of sanctification (meaning becoming like Christ, especially in His sinless perfection) (various New Testament passages, mostly from Paul’s epistles).

The sermon was about Peter’s denial of Jesus (Luke 22:31-34, 54-62), with some parallels drawn with the record of Job’s trials (Job 1, 2:1-10), and then Peter’s restoration (John 21).

  1. Jesus does not over-estimate us. He knows our weaknesses. He is not surprised by how, when or where we fail.
  2. As the redeemed people of God, our failure is mitigated. It is not as profound, complete, absolute or extensive as it could be. Jesus prays for us, just as He prayed for Peter (Romans 8:34).
  3. Our suffering in trials is limited. God sets the boundaries of our “sifting”. Satan asked to sift Peter for the purpose of causing him to fall, much like he asked to test Job. But his boundaries in which to exercise this “sifting” are limited by the divine decree of God (see Job’s story, and Peter’s). Satan desires to do everything he can to ultimately destroy the people of God by causing their faith to fail absolutely and finally. God does not allow this. He is the one who keeps our faith from ultimately failing (Jude 1:24).
  4. Though Satan’s purpose is to destroy us, God uses the trials and sufferings in our lives for the purpose of sanctifying us, through our failures (sin) and suffering. (Hebrews 12:3-12)
  5. In light of this truth then, in Christ, even our sin and failures have a redemptive purpose. They are allowed in order to sanctify us. Peter was self-confident, but when he failed and lost his self-confidence, he was restored and his shattered self-confidence was replace with Christ-confidence. Peter had lost all self-esteem, but he gained Christ-esteem. God allowed him to be “sifted” and to fail, for a time, in order to conform him more to the image of His son — no longer trusting in his own strength, but in the unfailing power of Jesus (James 1:2-4).
  6. The process of becoming more like Christ is sanctification. The purpose of sanctification is to enable us to see Jesus more, until finally we will behold him full-on, in all His unveiled glory. And the more we see Jesus, the more sanctified (like Him) we become. All of Scripture and the work of God in our life point to this one thing: to see Jesus. And when we see Him, and because we see Him, we will be like Him (1 John 3:2).

In summary then, everything, absolutely everything, EVEN our own SIN serves a redemptive purpose in our lives, through Christ, that we may see Him more, and more, and more, until that final day, when we behold His glorious, astounding, creation-remaking beauty, unveiled in our sight.

THIS is simply astonishingthat Christ would turn the very outworking of our wicked hearts and rebellion into that which no longer condemns us but is part of the very process of our final redemption and salvation. In Christ when we repent, our sin no longer damns us before God because our debt has been propitiated (set aside) by the payment He made through His death. Instead, our sin is a useful tool in His hands for our own sanctification. Is there ANYTHING more ASTOUNDING than this? What a glorious Gospel, what a gracious God. Dear believer, never, ever get over the work of Christ on your behalf and in you!

Caution — lest this lead you to think that we can therefore sin unashamedly and in abundance, with no restraint, read Romans 6. We are no longer slaves to sin, now that we are in Christ. Therefore we are to do all we can to exercise ourselves for the cause of righteousness.

Conclusion: Give thanks in trials. Give thanks even when you suffer the effects of your own sinful failures. As difficult as it is to do, give thanks in all things, because Jesus is using them for your greatest and ultimate good.

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3 Responses to “Sifting, Sin and Sanctification”

  1. drew October 3, 2013 at 1:22 am #

    This encourages me to persevere in Christ…
    Thank you for posting .

    • reformationlady October 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

      Yes, the teaching Sunday so encouraged me that way, too. You are welcome! Keep pressing onward.

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