Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Ground of Sanctification...

Regarding the liberty from sin for which man so thirsts, I ended my last post (first post here) with these words of Owen's:    
    Fourthly; Christ is not in the law; he is not proposed in it, not communicated by it, - we are not made partakers of him thereby.  This is the work of grace, of the gospel.  In it is Christ revealed, by it he is proposed and exhibited unto us; thereby are we made partakers of him and all the benefits of his mediation.  And he it is alone who came to, and can, destroy this work of the devil.... This "the Son of God was manifested to destroy."  He alone ruins the kingdom of Satan, whose power is acted in the rule of sin.  Wherefore, hereunto our assurance of this comfortable truth is principally resolved.  And what Christ hath done, and doth, for this end, is a great part of the subject of gospel revelation.

Again, the subject matter under discussion by Owen is summarized by the verse from Romans 6:14, "Sin shall no longer have dominion over you; for ye are not under law but under grace."  The law is limited by God's purpose for it.  It can only point the way.  The law gives no aid in freeing the sinner from the rule and tyranny of sin.  That office is found alone in God's sovereign grace declared in the gospel of Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.  Through faith in Him by grace alone, sins are pardoned, the believer is justified with the righteousness of Christ, and the reign and rule of Sin is broken.  The believer has been delivered from sin's dominion and translated to the kingdom of Christ Jesus, now under God's reign of grace unto righteousness.  And this good news, the power of God unto salvation as witnessed to and transmitted by the Holy Spirit, is the effectual ground upon which the believer walks in sanctification.  It is not a walk free of sin or battles with the flesh - but a walk, though with many limitations and weaknesses, that nonetheless increases in faith and godliness through trusting dependence upon the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that which He has secured for the redeemed. 

From the last section in Owen's A Treatise of the Dominion of Sin and Grace:

     It is that which the law and all the duties of it cannot procure.  The law and its duties, as we have declared, can never destroy the dominion of sin.  All men will find the truth hereof that ever come to fall under the power of real conviction.  When sin presseth on them, and they are afraid of its consequents, they will find that the law is weak, and the flesh is weak, and their duties are weak, and their resolutions and vows are weak; - all insufficient to relieve them.       ... They sin and promise amendment, and endeavor recompenses by some duties, yet can never extricate themselves from the yoke of sin.  We may therefore learn the excellency of this privilege, first, from its causes, whereof I shall mention some only:-      1.  The meritorious procuring cause of this liberty is the death and blood of Jesus Christ.  So it is declared, 1Pet.1:18-19; 1Cor.6:20, 7:23.  Nothing else could purchase this freedom... "Christ died, and rose, and revived," that he might be our Lord, Rom.14:9, and so deliver us from the power of all other lords whatever.      
   ... Let those that are believers, in all the conflicts with sin, live in the exercise of faith on this purchase of liberty made by the blood of Christ; for two thing will hence ensue:- [1.]  That they will have a weighty argument always in readiness to oppose unto the deceit and violence of sin... See Rom.6:2.  [2.]  The internal efficient cause of this liberty, or that whereby the power and rule of sin is destroyed in us, is the Holy Spirit himself; which farther evinceth the greatness of this mercy.  Every act for the mortification of sin is no less immediately from him than those positive graces are whereby we are sanctified.  It is "through the Spirit" that we "mortify the deeds of the body," Rom.8:13.  Where he is, there, and there alone, is liberty...      
     ...Wherefore, a great part of our wisdom for the attaining and preserving this liberty consists in the acting of faith on that promise of our Saviour, that our heavenly Father will "give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him" of him.  When sin in any instance, by any temptation, urgeth for power and rule in us, we are ready to turn into ourselves and our own resolutions, which in their place are not to be neglected; but immediate cries unto God for such supplies of his Spirit as without which sin will not be subdued, we shall find our best relief.  Bear it in mind, try it on the next occasion, and God will bless it with success....      
     ... We are called into a theatre, to fight and contend; into a field, to be tried in a warfare.  Our enemy is this sin, which strives and contends for the rule over us....      
     ... First, The conflict with sin, making continual repentance and mortification absolutely necessary, will continue in us whilst we are in this world.  Pretences of perfection here are contrary to the Scriptures, contrary to the universal experience of all believers, and contrary to the sense and conscience of them by whom they are pleaded, as they make it evident everyday.      
     ... This is our lot and portion; this is the consequent of our apostasy from God, and of the depravation of our nature thereby....      ... It is so ordered that the continuance of sin in us shall be the ground, reason, and occasion, of the exercise of all grace, and of putting a lustre on our obedience.
     ... Herein lies the spring of humility and self-resignation to the will of God.      
     ... Wherefore, the continuance of us in this state and condition in this world, - is best for us, and highly suited unto divine wisdom, considering the office and care of our Lord Jesus Christ for our relief.
     ... There is mercy administered in and by the gospel for the pardon of all that is evil in itself or in any of its effects:  "There is no condemnation unto them that are in Christ Jesus."  Pardoning mercy, according to the tenor of the covenant, doth always disarm this sin in believers of its condemning power; so that, notwithstanding the utmost endeavours of it, "being justified by faith, they have peace with God."      
     ... The great rule for preventing the increase and power of vicious habits is, watch against beginnings.  Sin doth not attempt dominion but in particular instances, by one especial lust or another.
     ... The strict charge given us by our Lord Jesus Christ to "watch," and that of the wise man, "above all keepings to keep our heart," have especial regard unto these beginnings of sins's obtaining power in us.      
     ... Make continual applications unto the Lord Christ, in all the acts of his mediation, for the ruin of sin, especially when it attempts a dominion in you, Heb.4:16.  This is the life and soul of all directions in this case, which needs not here to be enlarged on; it is frequently spoken unto.  Lastly, Remember that a due sense of deliverance from the dominion of sin is the most effectual motive unto universal obedience and holiness; as such it is proposed and managed by the apostle, Rom.4.


  1. Dad, You should check out the guest post over at Kevin DeYoung's blog--arguing that the ground of sanctification is union with Christ.

  2. Thanks, Laura. I went there and put in a couple cents... :o

  3. The doctrine of "union with Christ" is just a cover for confusing justification with sanctification. The truth is the weakest Christian who sins continually, asking for forgiveness, is justified and saved. Those who teach union above justification by faith alone do not understand that "mystical union" is not a mystery at all. It is believing that Christ accomplished everything for us on the cross.

    Works can never pay the debt before we come to faith or after we believe. If so, then Christ died in vain. (Titus 3:5-7)

  4. Good stuff, Jack!

    Christ does it all!


    Kevin De Young booted me off his site, for not allowing the old sinner back into the equation.

    Oh well. Better luck to you!