The necessity of sanctification is often misunderstood or outright ignored by many Christians. Sanctification is indeed necessary as a phase and condition for complete salvation. In fact, without it, your faith will diminish and perhaps disappear altogether. Are you saying a Christian can lose or forfeit their salvation? Nope, I’m not saying that…God is!
The Necessity of Sanctification
God – through the Apostle Paul, and others – clearly tells us that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26). The Book of Hebrews gives us warning upon warning not to “drift” from the faith. More specifically, Paul in Romans 8:12-13 tells us sanctification is not only necessary but is also our decision.
The necessity of sanctification is explained in this passage as the difference between focusing your mind on the flesh or on the spirit. An explanation is given of the difference between the unsaved – those who are of the flesh – and the saved – those who are of the Spirit.
The unsaved (i.e. unregenerated) have no choice but to focus their mind on the things of the body and flesh. They seek out fulfillment of only their personal desires and appetites. In contrast, the saved have a choice as to what they focus their minds (i.e. thinking) on. And this is the key difference between the two.
In the absence of choice, the unsaved simply align with their fleshly desires and world’s materialistic fulfillment. But even with a choice, the saved must still personally decide to choose obedience to God (i.e. the things of the Spirit). It is within our power – as Christians/born again/redeemed – to determine what we think about and how we behave. As I have pointed out before: You have absolute control over only two things in your life – what you think and how you behave.
Phase Two of Three
Lest we forget, salvation is given to us in three separate stages. First, recall that sin infects us with a “double-curse.” One, we incur a sin debt with a penalty payment due. Two, we become powerless to resist sin and temptation. Phase One of salvation gives us the “double-cure.”
First, our penalty is paid in full and we are justified – put in right standing with the law of God. And second, we are born again (i.e. regenerated) and made new. This new spirit (i.e. God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus – Eph. 2:10) gives us the ability to follow the law of God. In addition to this new spirit God grants the gift of His indwelling Spirit. He – the Holy Spirit – in combination with our redeemed spirit – gives us power to overcome sin and temptation as we live.
This is the purpose of the indwelling! The Holy Spirit is given to us so that we might pursue holiness; aka righteousness, holy living, obedience of faith, keeping God’s laws, doing good works, being holy as He is holy, etc. The necessity of sanctification could not be more clear.
We do not go from justification to glorification (the third phase) without first growing in sanctification (phase two). Sanctification is a necessary second phase of being saved. We are saved – justification; we are being saved – sanctification; and we will be saved – glorification. The necessity of sanctification is clearly presented when Paul tells us that if a Christian persists in living according to the flesh, they must die. Sounds serious. And it is.