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The Transformation of Sanctification

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The Transformation of Sanctification

Text: GALATIANS 2:20

Thematic Sentence: Christ can change us for holy living.

Fallen Condition Focus: Our sinful nature resists holiness.

Introduction:

      Imagine yourself a caterpillar munching away happily on a fat juicy maple leaf.  You spend day after day eating and  getting fat and sassy.  All the great out doors is at your disposal.  You crawl freely about the forest canopy. 

      Now, imagine being asked to trade your unlimited food supply for several months of starvation.  How about exchanging all of the outdoors for a skin tight wrapper, or imagine giving up the freedom to travel to be tied immovably to a single twig.  If I were a caterpillar, I don't know if I would make the trade. 

      Sometimes Christians are like that with sanctification.  They are happy with where they are at and see no need for change. Maybe what a few caterpillar Christians need to see, is the butterfly on the other side of the cocoon.  Change doesn't always come easy, but its better to become a butterfly than to stay a caterpillar.  This passage reveals the Apostle Paul as our butterfly.  Shown here is the sanctifying transformation that can change us from carnal caterpillars into blessed butterflies.

First of all:

I. Sanctification gives us a new nature

      But to receive a new nature we must put off the old nature.  Romans 6:6 says that our body of sin must be done away with.  (A). Death to self must be complete before we can receive a new nature.  The term that Paul uses to describe this death is significant.  He says that he is crucified with Christ.  To be crucified was a lingering, agonizing death.     

      Our sin nature dies hard.  We think we should be allowed to have our own way and we devise all sorts of plans to getting it.

      ***One father illustrated this well.  He said, One day, one of my children came out of the dining room and walked along to my study.  There was a question about what was to be done in a certain matter.  As I sat down at my desk I gave a clear and detailed answer.  My child hesitated, then broke in with a question.  I kept on at my work without looking up.  "But, Daddy...." the child insisted, and phrased the matter in another way.  Mother came along to find out why the job wasn't getting done.  The child answered, "I'm trying to find out what Daddy wants me to do."  At this point the father broke in and said: "No. You are not trying to find out what I want done.  You are trying to see if you can make me relent to the conditions so you will be able to do what you want to do instead of doing what you know we want you to do.  Now go get it done right now!"

      How many times does God have to deal with us in the same way?  Our old nature is addicted to having its own way.  Only when this old nature is put to death can we be transformed according to God's design.

      Dying to self is never easy, but where one dies there is a moment of death where we can say with Christ, "It is finished."  When we reach this point God is able to give us a new nature through the (B). The indwelling of Christ.  The person who is sanctified, is so by the Spirit of Christ living in them.  They have died but are now alive.  Through Christ they experience a spiritual resurrection.  Paul said "It is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me." Christ has become the divine breath of our soul.

      ***It is told that Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, said   "Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, and thus they attempt very little, and they always fail.  All giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and His presence to be with them."

      Like David, who said, "The battle is the Lord's" (1 Sam 17:47), we also need to understand that Jesus is our source, and we can be directly connected to Him.

      It is for this that Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers: That Christ would actually live in their hearts by faith, and that their hearts would be strengthened with might by His spirit in the inner man.  What a glorious thought it is that the Lord of the universe would condescend to live in this unworthy vessel.  It is both glorious and true! Not only does sanctification transform us through the power of Christ living within us, but:

II. Sanctification gives us a new focus

        It concentrates our focus on (A). faith in Christ.  Paul depends on the power of Christ for daily living instead of his own efforts. A.M. Hill points out that Paul is conscious of a spiritual life that is not so much himself as it is Christ. If we trust in our own power to meet the trials and temptations of daily life we will be sure to fail.  Only through reliance in Christ and His power are we assured of victory.  Sanctification is not something we do, but something Christ does in us.  Instead of our own efforts to live righteously, sanctification teaches us the righteousness of Christ through faith.

      ***In April 1988 the evening news reported on a photographer who was a skydiver.  He had jumped from a plane with numerous other skydivers and filmed the group as they fell and opened their parachutes.  On the film shown on the telecast, as the final skydiver opened his chute, the picture went berserk.  The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped out of the plane without his parachute.  It wasn't until he reached for the absent ripcord that he realized he was free falling without a parachute.

      Until that point the jump probably seemed exciting and fun.  But tragically he had acted with thoughtless haste and deadly foolishness.  Nothing could save him for his faith was in a parachute that was never buckled on.  Faith in anything but an all sufficient God can be just as tragic spiritually.  Only with faith in Jesus Christ can we step out into life with confidence.  As we apprehend Christ through faith, so must we live daily through faith in His power.  Sanctified people recognize their own weaknesses and that their need to become strong spiritually can only be satisfied through faith in the gracious work of Christ.

      Sanctification also redirects our focus on (B). The Love of Christ.

It is easy to see the attitude of Paul as he proclaims faith in the one who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  Also, in his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul prays that they be filled with Christ in order to know the width, depth, length and height of the love of Christ.  It is Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith that causes them to be grounded in His love!  We are not sanctified because we love, but we love because we are sanctified.  The Love of Christ so fills our hearts as to enable us to love him in return.  I John 4:8, and 16 tell us that He who does not know love does not know God, for God is Love; He who abides in love abides in God, and God in Him.  One of the most celebrated passages of the Bible is the thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians.  Otherwise known as the love chapter, it is said that without love we are as clanging cymbals and sounding brass.  In other words, without love we are just making so much noise.  It is truly a great transformation that can change a selfish, self centered heart into a heart of love.

      So we've seen that sanctification not only gives us a new nature and a new focus, but:

III. Sanctification gives us a new freedom

      Through Christ living in me, I have the(A). freedom to live righteously.  It is not my own righteousness for I have none.  Christ living in me however, allows me the freedom to live a holy life under His power.  Paul says that if righteousness could be provided through the law then Christ died for nothing.  If righteousness could be obtained any way other than Christ we would not need a savior.  The law cannot produce righteousness, but the indwelling Christ can!   Through Christ, we need no longer sin. 

      ***A story is told of a little boy who went into the park one day and saw a man selling balloons.  Every once in a while the man would release a balloon and people would see it rise and then gather around the vendor to buy their own balloon.

      The little boy watched as the man released first a red, then a yellow, and finally a blue balloon.  The boy approached the balloon man and said, "Mister, if you let the black one go will it rise as high as the rest?"  The man replied, "Sonny, It's not the color of the balloon that makes it go so high, its what's inside of it." 

      It isn't until we are emptied of self, and filled with Christ that we are freed to ascend to the heights of what God would have us be.

      not only does sanctification free us to live righteously, but it gives us (B). freedom from resistance.  Paul says that he no longer lives, but Christ lives in him.  There is no battle between the desires of Paul and the will of Christ.  There are not two commanders that occupy the same fort, but the captain is Christ and Christ alone.  Paul's sinful nature has been crucified and now there is no rival or resistance to the rule of Christ.  The soul which is no longer in conflict over who is in command no longer has the pain of friction in the soul and can find a restful existence beyond the conflict of opposing desires.  It is the resurrected Christ living within the believer that directs and guides him now.

      ***The struggle within the unsanctified believer is much like the battle that goes on within a diseased person.  The disease tries to have its way within the body, and it does its harmful work wherever it can until it meets up with the immune system.  Little molecules called antibodies attack the invading disease in order to eradicate it.  It is when the disease is finally destroyed and health is restored, that the body can rest from the battle.  

Conclusion:

      We all need the transforming power of Jesus.  Why be content to be an earthbound caterpillar, when we can take our flight into the heavens on butterflies wings?  God can transform a sin sick, self centered Christian, and set them free to live above the world of the average caterpillar and experience the supreme joy of his changing presence. 

      Who knows but what if you allow Christ to change you, that some self satisfied caterpillar in the pew might notice as you spread your wings and fly. Maybe they would become dissatisfied with themselves and desire the same beautiful change for themselves.  The more people there are that allow Christ to transform them the more the church will look like him.

      ***On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription:

      James Butler Bonham-no picture of him exists.  This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle.  It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom.

      No literal picture exists of Jesus either.  But the likeness of the Son who frees us can be seen in His sanctified followers.

      Does Jesus Live in you until others see Him in you?  If not, Christ can change you.  Let sanctification do its perfect work in you so that you may be transformed into his image, and so that others may know. 


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