Pursuing Sanctification

Hebrews 12:4-13,

4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 

5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. 

6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 

8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 

9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 

10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. 

11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 

13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 

14 Pursue for peace with everyone, and for the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled… 

Throughout these verses we see that we are in a struggle against sin (4), and that our heavenly Father is using this struggle to teach us discipline (7). The end result of this struggle and discipline is for us to share our Father’s holiness (10). Verse 11 says, For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Verses 14 & 15 sum up the entire passage— in order to obtain and not come short of the grace of God, we must pursue peace and sanctification.

Many people have referred to this process as progressive sanctification which God provides for us as we grow, and some have said it is a second work of grace,but neither of these is true. Sanctification is both the setting apart to God, and the conduct of one who is separated to Him. 

Take note that the writer of Hebrews, in his explanation of our struggle against sin and our learning obedience through that struggle, said in verse 10, For they [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He [our heavenly Father] disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. The words holiness and sanctification are interchangeable in different versions of the Bible. They mean the same thing.

From verse 14 we know the burden of peace and sanctification is on us, for it says we are to pursue it. How do we do this? We pursue peace and sanctification daily by submitting to, and obeying, our heavenly Father; for He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. We resist sin, trusting in Him to provide a way of escape from every temptation. We will never share His holiness unless we learn obedience through the things which we suffer, as did Jesus, our example! 1 Peter 2:21, For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…

Dear friends, sanctification is no magic wand as some have taught. It is a hard path, a narrow path. It is not easy; it requires obedience to all authority. It means we cannot do whatever we want, whenever we want; we answer to a higher calling.

Having been crucified with Jesus and raised up with Him into newness of life, we must now consider ourselves dead to sin, and alive to God; for through Jesus He has set us free to live a life of righteousness before God, a life worthy of our calling. 

There are many thorns along this narrow path, and they will scratch and tear at our flesh; at times they will draw blood. But it is a path of the most beautiful roses one can ever see, and, by God’s grace, their fragrance always overshadows their thorns.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons, Hebrews 12:8. 

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of GodHebrews 12:15a.

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