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God’s work of sanctification in us (2)

by on November 13, 2012

Sanctification has two key aspects. To illustrate the distinction between those, we have the example of the Lord Jesus Himself:

…him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world…
(John 10:36 ESV)

…I consecrate myself…
(John 17:19 ESV)

So, we have the two aspects of sanctification in those verses. The Sanctifying work of God the Father – Him who the Father sanctified and sent. And we have the Lord Jesus saying, I sanctify Myself. Those two aspects are equally applicable to ourselves. This week I want to specifically think about the first of those aspects in relation to ourselves. The Father sanctifies – His wonderful, unconditional work of sanctification in the believer, whereby we are eternally sanctified, set apart for Him… the purpose of which is? So that we might be able, that we may be fitted in His eyes, to serve Him as priests – so that we will be truly and eternally His servants.


Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…

Create in me a clean heart, O God
(Psalm 51:7-10 ESV)


Create in me a clean heart. Create it in me – creating is the job of the creator. That’s God’s work! It’s not a work that I can do, this thing that the Psalmist is speaking about. Similarly, the leper said to the lord Jesus – If you will, you can make me clean. It was not something that he could do for himself, and sanctification that is not built on the work of God, that does not have new creation, the work of the Spirit of God, as its foundation, will get nowhere.

And when David says, Purge me with hyssop, he is harking back to the Passover. Hyssop was the instrument with which the blood was applied to the doorposts and lintel of the Israelite houses in Egypt. And the blood is the provision of God. The work of new creation in us is His work, by the Spirit, building on the blood, which is His provision. Let’s appreciate the power in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus in the eyes of God, afresh today – it is that that enables us to be set apart for God. We’ll be coming back to the blood again this week – because it is an essential part of God’s work in sanctifying us.

Someone has said that when God forgives, He says, ‘go free’, but Calvary is about so much more than forgiveness. Sanctification is God saying ‘come serve’. So, the work of God in sanctification is about God marking us out, or setting us apart, for that service. God’s sanctifying work is very closely related to the His work in justification – that He has imputed to us a righteousness that is not our own (so that it is not just the absence of my sin that sets me apart for God, but the attributes of one who is perfect and completely beyond my level, being added to me as a result of the great transaction that took place at Calvary). And as such He has set us apart for Himself in a way we could never, ever do ourselves.

Of course, the biblical context of service is inextricable bound up in the concept of the people of God, and the House of God in its various forms, in which those people have served and still serve today. The first expression of that was of course in the tabernacle, when God redeemed the people out of Egypt – and, I’m hammering the same point here. The reason for their redemption? Let my people go that they may serve me.

In Psalm 93, the Psalmist proclaims to God that Holiness befits His house. Holiness befits God’s house, and the holiness finds its origin in Him. It is the work of God in sanctification, in bringing us to holiness, that fits us for service in His house. That is a principle that runs through Old and New Testaments – He makes us suitable to serve.

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