Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sanctification In This World

Some Christians teach that God will justify Christians in committing a little sin. This is because of a belief that man could never overcome his sin-nature in this life. So, they say that it denies the power of Christ to even try to repent, or be sanctified, because it can't happen. We just need to trust in Christ that he will save us "in our sins".

Well, I do not disagree that is seems improbable that man could escape his sin-nature "in this world." But the Bible promises:

1 Jn. 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

1 Cor. 10: 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Rev. 1: 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

Matt. 1: 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Christ's Atonement has the power to save us "from our sins" and not "in our sins." Now, I don't think that I will be perfect before I die and have totally escaped my sin-nature. But that doesn't mean I give up. And trying does not deny the power of Christ's Atonement. I trust that If I stick-to-it and endure and finish the course, that the love of Christ and the Holy Ghost can have a sanctifying effect on me. And I have witnessed this already in my life. I have seen the progress, and I hope it will continue.

One institution/blessing that God has given us is that of becoming a Husband and a father. I feel like I have been purified and sanctified through this sacred godly calling. There is a certain amount of unselfishness required to be in a successful marriage and to be a successful parent. Being a husband and a parent carries with it a whole set of unique learning experiences and adversities that God has designed to perfect, sanctify us. Or in other words, teach us to rely on Him. But that doesn't mean we stay the same selfish, obstinate person we always are, but God can soften our hearts and empower us to be better. And this same principle goes for all other things God has given us such as scriptures, prayer, church, and priesthood:

Scripture: "That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:17).

Church Organization: "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:" (Eph. 4:13).

Priesthood: "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered *; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb 5:8-10). *[in fulfilling the requirements of His priesthood calling]

Gift of the Holy Ghost: "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:" (2 Thes. 2:13, 1 Pet. 1:2, 1 Cor. 6:11)

Prayer for patience in trials: "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God" (James 1:4-5).

The church, the scriptures, the priesthood and the ordinances are prepared to manifest the power of God (Spirit) because by their reception and exercise, we let God work through us and we are empowered and filled more perfectly with His love.

I think to deny that we can be make progress in the path of sanctification in this world is to deny the power of Christ's Atonement. LDS do not think we will arrive at perfection without Christ in this world. We can't even make one step toward him by ourselves. But we believe we can make progress with his help here on Earth. That is why believers are called Saints, because we are in the straight and narrow path of sanctification by Christs blood and the Holy Spirit. LDS believe that the power of Christ's atonement can take effect "in this world" and begin to destroy our sin-nature.

Another reason the LDS preach repentance and sanctification is that the Holy Ghost does not dwell in unholy temples; which temples we are. So, the better we receive the love of Christ in our hearts, the more pure our hearts, the more the Holy Ghost can enter into us, and empower us to good works. Therefore, man can become a chosen vessel filled with Christ's love, and instrument in His hands, and a mirror that reflects His perfect image and countenance. It is a sanctifying honor that God works through us, and allows us to serve one another in His name, and witness the power of His love first-hand.

2 Tim. 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

But there is another major reason the LDS preach the gospel of repentance and sanctification. We try to receive as many good gifts and purify ourselves more fully, because we know that each and every one of our sins added to the pain and anguish Christ felt in the Garden and on the Cross. We try to ask ourselves, how much blood did Christ spill for my sins? How much agony did he experience as he sweat and shed blood for me? Because I love Him, I would like to minimize, as much as possible, my contribution to His anguish .

1 Thes. 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Baptism and other ordinances are not works of man, they are the perfect work of the Holy Ghost within us. Man cannot do one iota of work for his own benefit or salvation, but we can get in the way of the work of the Holy Ghost. The better we receive the Love of Christ and the Power of the Holy Ghost the better reward we will receive proportional to our circumstances. We have to allow the Holy Ghost magnify us.

Remember the parable of the talents. If God has given us 1 talent, then we should not get in the way of the Spirit making us 2, and if 3 then 6 and if 5 then we should return being made 10. Not by our own efforts but by the perfect work of the Spirit. Again, we can do nothing for our own salvation but we too often get in the way of the Spirit which is trying to work through us.

That is why when Christ gave the Holy Ghost, he said, "Receive the Holy Ghost." Although we are justified and we merit it only in Christ, we need to receive it fully and wholly. Christ has given us priesthood, prayer, scriptures, church organization, adversity, and the gift of the Holy Ghost which together sanctify us and work in us. We should receive them all and not impede God's perfect work of sanctification.

No comments: