Monday, March 5, 2012

Sanctified by the blood of Christ through faith...

Sanctification... by good works?... by works and grace?...  Sanctification... becoming more holy - through increased holy acts?... by becoming less of a sinner?  Does what started out through faith alone in Christ alone by God's grace alone now switch over to us, our efforts, our faithfulness and works in sanctification?  Or are we still sinners... recipients who receive, through faith, the virtue of Jesus' death and resurrection in our sanctification (WCF 13.1) as we did, through faith, in our justification?  In other words, is that which justifies the believer the same which sanctifies him? Or more specifically, being that we are justified by his blood (Rom.5:9), is it also the blood of Christ shed for sinners that sanctifies in this life?

Some words of  John Owen on the subject.  He is a bit difficult to read but well worth the effort, especially here concerning the office of the Holy Spirit, the blood of Christ, and the instrument of faith in our sanctification.

From the Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit by John Owen:
Therefore, by the blood of Christ herein is intended the blood of his sacrifice, with the power, virtue, and efficacy thereof. And the blood of a sacrifice fell under a double consideration:-- (1.) As it was offered unto God to make atonement and reconciliation; (2.) As it was sprinkled on other things for their purging and sanctification. Part of the blood in every propitiatory sacrifice was still to be sprinkled round about the altar, Lev. i. 11; and in the great sacrifice of expiation, some of the blood of the bullock was to be sprinkled before the mercy-seat seven times, chap. xvi. 14. This our apostle fully expresseth in a great and signal instance: Heb. ix. 19, 20, 22, "When Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. ... And almost all things are by the law purged with blood." Wherefore, the blood of Christ, as it was the blood of his sacrifice, hath these two effects, and falls under this double consideration:-(1.) As he offered himself by the eternal Spirit unto God to make an atonement for sin, and procure eternal redemption; (2.) As it is sprinkled by the same Spirit on the consciences of believers, to purge them from dead works, as Heb. ix. 12-14. And hence it is called, with respect unto our sanctification, "The blood of sprinkling," chap. xii. 24; for we have the "sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," 1 Pet. i. 2.
2. The blood of Christ in his sacrifice is still always and continually in the same condition, of the same force and efficacy, as it was in that hour wherein it was shed. The blood of other sacrifices was always to be used immediately upon its effusion; for if it were cold and congealed it was of no use to be offered or to be sprinkled. Blood was appointed to make atonement, as the life or animal spirits were in it, Lev. xvii. 11. But the blood of the sacrifice of Christ is always hot and warm, having the same spirits of life and sanctification still moving in it. Hence the zosa kai prosphatos, Heb. x. 20, -- always living, and yet always as newly slain. Every one, therefore, who at any time hath an especial actual interest in the blood of Christ, as sacrificed, hath as real a purification from the defilement of sin as he had typically who stood by the priest and had blood or water sprinkled on him; for the Holy Ghost diligently declares that whatever was done legally, carnally, or typically, by any of the sacrifices of old at any time, as to the expiation or purification of sin, that was all done really and spiritually by that one sacrifice, -- that is, the offering and sprinkling of the blood of Christ, -- and abideth to be so done continually. To this purpose is the substance of our apostle's discourse in the ninth and tenth chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews. And they had various sorts of sacrifices, wherein to this end the blood of them was sprinkled, they being propitiatory in their offering; as, -- (1.) There was the tmyd, or continual burnt-offering of a lamb or kid for the whole congregation, morning and evening, whose blood was sprinkled as at other times. And hereby the habitual purification of the congregation, that they might be holy to the Lord, and their cleansing from the daily incursions of secret and unknown sins, was signified and carried on. (2.) On the Sabbath-day this juge sacrificium was doubled morning and evening, denoting a peculiar and abounding communication of mercy and purging grace, through the administration of instituted ordinances, on that day. (3.) There was the great annual sacrifice at the feast of expiation, when, by the sacrifice of the sin-offering and the scape-goat, the whole congregation were purged from all their known and great sins, and recovered into a state of legal holiness; and other stated sacrifices there were. (4.) There were occasional sacrifices for every one, according as he found his condition to require; for those who were clean one day, yea, one hour, might by some miscarriage or surprisal be unclean the next. But there was a way continually ready for any man's purification, by his bringing his offering unto that purpose. Now, the blood of Christ must continually, and upon all occasions, answer unto all these, and accomplish spiritually what they did legally effect and typically represent. This our apostle asserts and proves, Heb. ix. 9-14. Thereby is the gradual carrying on of our sanctification habitually effected, which was signified by the continual daily sacrifice. From thence is especial cleansing virtue communicated unto us by the ordinances of the gospel, as is expressly affirmed, Eph. v. 25, 26, denoted by the doubling of the daily sacrifice on the Sabbath. By it we are purged from all our sins whatever, great or small, as was typified in the great sacrifice on the day of expiation. And unto him have we continual recourse upon all occasions of our spiritual defilements whatever. So was his blood, as to its purifying virtue, to answer and accomplish all legal institutions...
... (1.) How the blood of Christ doth thus cleanse us from our sins, or what it is that is done thereby. (2.) How we come to be made partakers of the benefit thereof, or come to be interested therein. (1.) As to the first, it must be observed, what hath been declared before, that the uncleanness we treat of is not physical or corporeal, but moral and spiritual only. It is the inconformity of sin unto the holiness of God, as represented in the law, whence it is loathsome to God, and attended with shame in us. Now, wherever there is an interest obtained in the purifying virtue of the blood of Christ, it doth (by the will, law, and appointment of God) do these two things:-- [1.] It takes away all loathsomeness in the sight of God, not from sin in the abstract, but from the sinner, so that he shall be as one absolutely washed and purified before him. See Isa. i. 16-18; Ps. li. 7; Eph. v. 25-27. [2.] It taketh away shame out of the conscience, and gives the soul boldness in the presence of God, Heb. x. 19-22. When these things are done then is sin purged, our souls are cleansed.
[regarding the Holy Spirit] -It is he who discovereth unto us, and spiritually convinceth us of, the pollution of sin, and of our defilement thereby. Something, indeed, of this kind will be wrought by the power of natural conscience, awakened and excited by ordinary outward means of conviction; for wherever there is a sense of guilt, there will be some kind of sense of filth, as fear and shame are inseparable. But this sense alone will never guide us to the blood of Christ for cleansing. Such a sight and conviction of it as may fill us with self-abhorrency and abasement, as may cause us to loathe ourselves for the abomination that is in it, is required of us; and this is the work of the Holy Ghost, belonging to that peculiar conviction of sin which is from him alone, John xvi. 8. I mean that self-abhorrency, shame, and confusion of face, with respect unto the filth of sin, which is so often mentioned in the Scripture as a gracious duty; as nothing is a higher aggravation of sin than for men to carry themselves with a carnal boldness with God and in his worship, whilst they are unpurged from their defilements. In a sense hereof the publican stood afar off, as one ashamed and destitute of any confidence for a nearer approach. So the holy men of old professed to God that they blushed, and were ashamed to lift up their faces unto him. Without this preparation, whereby we come to know the plague of our own hearts, the infection of our leprosy, the defilement of our souls, we shall never make application unto the blood of Christ for cleansing in a due manner. This, therefore, in the first place, is of us as the first part of our duty and first work of the Holy Ghost herein. [2.] The Holy Ghost proposeth, declareth, and presents unto us the only true remedy, the only means of purification. "When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, not cure you of your wound," Hos. v. 13. When men begin to discern their defilements, they are apt to think of many ways for their purging. What false ways have been invented to this purpose hath been before declared. And every one is ready to find out a way of his own; every one will apply his own soap and his own nitre. Though the only fountain for cleansing be nigh unto us, yet we cannot see it until the Holy Ghost open our eyes, as he did the eyes of Hagar; he it is who shows it unto us and leads us unto it. This is an eminent part of his office and work. The principal end of his sending, and consequently of his whole work, was to glorify the Son; as the end and work of the Son was to glorify the Father. And the great way whereby he glorifieth Christ is by showing such things unto us, John xvi. 14. And without his discovery we can know nothing of Christ, not of the things of Christ; for he is not sent in vain, to show us the things that we can see of ourselves. And what is more so of Christ than his blood, and its efficacy for the purging of our sins? We never, therefore, discern it spiritually and in a due manner but by him. To have a true spiritual sense of the defilement of sin, and a gracious view of the cleansing virtue of the blood of Christ, is an eminent effect of the Spirit of grace. Something like it there may be in the workings of an awakened natural conscience, with some beams of outward gospel light falling on it; but there is nothing in it of the work of the Spirit. This, therefore, secondly, we must endeavour after, if we intend to be cleansed by the blood of Christ. [3.] It is he who worketh faith in us, whereby we are actually interested in the purifying virtue of the blood of Christ. By faith we receive Christ himself, and by faith do we receive all the benefits of his mediation, -- that is, as they are tendered unto us in the promises of God. He is our propitiation through faith in his blood as offered; and he is our sanctification through faith in his blood as sprinkled. And particular acting of faith on the blood of Christ for the cleansing of the soul from sin is required of us. A renewed conscience is sensible of a pollution in every sin, and is not freed from the shame of it without a particular application unto the blood of Christ. It comes by faith to the fountain set open for sin and uncleanness, as the sick man to the pool of healing waters, and waiteth for a season to be cleansed in it...
And this actual application by faith unto the blood of Christ for cleansing, the mystery whereof is scorned by many as a thing fanatical and unintelligible, consists in these four things:-- 1st. A spiritual view and due consideration of the blood of Christ in his sacrifice, as proposed in the promises of the gospel for our cleansing and purification. "Look unto me," saith he, "and be ye saved," Isa. xlv. 22; which respects the whole work of our salvation, and all the means thereof. Our way of coming into our interest therein is by looking to him, -- namely, as he is proposed unto us in the promise of the gospel: for as the serpent was lifted up by Moses in the wilderness, so was he in his sacrifice on the cross lifted up, John iii. 14; and so in the gospel is he represented unto us, Gal. iii. 1. And the means whereby they were healed in the wilderness was by looking unto the serpent that was lifted up. Herein, then, doth faith first act itself, by a spiritual view and due consideration of the blood of Christ, as proposed unto us in the gospel for the only means of our purification; and the more we abide in this contemplation, the more effectual will our success be in our application thereto. 2dly. Faith actually relieth on his blood for the real effecting of that great work and end for which it is proposed unto us; for God sets him forth as to be a propitiation through faith in his blood as offered, Rom. iii. 25, so to be our sanctification through faith in his blood as sprinkled. And the establishing of this especial faith in our souls is that which the apostle aims at in his excellent reasoning, Heb. ix. 13, 14; and his conclusion unto that purpose is so evident, that he encourageth us thereon to draw nigh in the full assurance of faith, chap. x. 22.
Relevant scripture-
Heb. 9:
1 Now even a first covenant had ordinances of divine service, and its sanctuary, a sanctuary of this world.
 2 For there was a tabernacle prepared, the first, wherein were the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the Holy place.
 3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holy of holies;
 4 having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was a golden pot holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
 5 and above it cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat; of which things we cannot now speak severally.
 6 Now these things having been thus prepared, the priests go in continually into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the services;
 7 but into the second the high priest alone, once in the year, not without blood, which he offereth for himself, and for the errors of the people:
 8 the Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holy place hath not yet been made manifest, while the first tabernacle is yet standing;
 9 which is a figure for the time present; according to which are offered both gifts and sacrifices that cannot, as touching the conscience, make the worshipper perfect,
 10 being only (with meats and drinks and divers washings) carnal ordinances, imposed until a time of reformation.
 11 But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation,
 12 nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.
 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling them that have been defiled, sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh:
 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
 16 For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him that made it.
 17 For a testament is of force where there hath been death: for it doth never avail while he that made it liveth.
 18 Wherefore even the first covenant hath not been dedicated without blood.
 19 For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses unto all the people according to the law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,
 20 saying, This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded to you-ward.
 21 Moreover the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry he sprinkled in like manner with the blood.
 22 And according to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission.
 23 It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
 24 For Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us:
 25 nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place year by year with blood not his own;
 26 else must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;
 28 so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation. 

Heb. 10:
 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
 15 And the Holy Spirit also beareth witness to us; for after he hath said,
 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws on their heart, And upon their mind also will I write them; then saith he,
 17 And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
 20 by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
 21 and having a great priest over the house of God;
 22 let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water,
 23 let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for he is faithful that promised:
Heb. 12:
 24 and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel.

1 Peter 1:
2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

Ephesians 5:
25 even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;
26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word,
27 that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post, Jack!

    You covered the topic of sanctification from stem to stern and rightly put Christ at the center of it all.

    Thanks, very much!