A couple of days ago, I was again taken to “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet 3:15). I had just prayed for God’s peace about an upcoming decision on a job opportunity. And I read: “Keep full of joy. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength. Store up His grace every morning before you go to work…When they [co-workers] see your victory, they may come to you and want to know who put that song in your heart. Peter says then you will have an opportunity to share in a vibrant way.”–Adrian Rogers
One of the definitions of “sanctify” is “to consecrate”, which means to dedicate my heart to a sacred purpose–God’s purpose. When we by faith in Jesus Christ as the resurrected Son of God, humbled ourselves to His saving grace, we were justified before the Lord with the righteousness of Christ. At that time, the Lord began His healing work of sanctification in our hearts by giving us a new spirit. It’s in my new spirit where “the peace of God rules in my heart” (Col 3:15), and I’ve developed an attitude of gratitude.
God’s Word (Heb 4:12) begins to accomplish His goal of dividing what makes up our soul (mind, will and emotions) and what makes up the new spirit He placed within us. It’s used to clarify His truth within us; to discern both our thoughts and the intentions of our heart, so that we can properly align underneath His truth and message.
The indwelling Holy Spirit’s ministry in the believer is the dynamic of our sanctification. Jesus prayed that we will be sanctified by the truth (John 17:17); and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13). The blessing of the new covenant in Christ is the presence of the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:14), which is the presence of God and the One who equips us for our service God calls us to.
The fruit of the Spirit in our lives (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) is the result of the Spirit’s reproduction of godly character in our lives (Gal 5:22-23). And the gifts of the Spirit (Rom 12:4-6, 1 Cor 12, 14) are the means by which we are to serve others for God’s kingdom purposes.
Now here’s where we have a responsibility in the sanctifying process–we are to appropriate God’s grace by faith. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Rom 10:17) Professing believers are to “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness”, because apart from God’s sanctifying work in us, “no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). God will judge any person claiming identification with Christ while not actively engaged in pursuing sanctification (Matt 7:21-23). John bases assurance on a faith that perseveres in sanctification (1 John 2:3-6; 5:2-4). Though sanctification is never complete in this life (1 John 1:8-10), it is not an optional extra tacked on to justification.
In order for the Holy Spirit to sanctify our hearts, we must yield our mind, will and emotions to the Lord. We are told to “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18). To live a Spirit-filled life means to yield ourselves to the control of the Spirit. The way to do that is to “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Col 3:16). Being filled with the Spirit and letting the Word dwell in us are synonymous because they produce the same results: a song in our hearts, a thankful attitude, and loving relationships at home and at work (Eph 5:19-6:9; Col 3:16-4:1).
As we “let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly”, the Holy Spirit will show us areas in our lives where we have not yet put off our “former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph 4:22). The Spirit will convict us of our unrepented sin, humbling us to His power so that we can put “on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24) so that we can “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph 4:23).
In the renewal of our mind in the Spirit, we have the confidence “that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). When we yield to the Spirit’s work in us, righteous attitudes and behavior grows in good deeds (Eph 2:10), godliness (1 Pet 1:15), and in Christ-likeness (1 Pet 2:21). We are able to “press on” in the Spirit (Phil 3:12) by faith in God’s promise, and striving according to our indwelling Holy Spirit (Col 1:29). It is only through the Holy Spirit’s work in us that we are able to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength. Store up His grace every morning so others will want to know who put that song in your heart!