There is a desperate need in the church today for pastors and teachers to emphasize practical holy living in the life of believers. Every person who is truly born-again lives in Romans 5, but few progress into chapters 6 and 8! It is essential that we understand the meaning of sanctification. If we are to have a complete Christian life, we should not only understand it, but live it ourselves. "Sanctified" is a term, broadly misunderstood, which simply means "to set apart." The tabernacle and its furnishings were sanctified, set apart, for the use of God. The wood, cloth, metal, and other materials were not, of themselves, holy, but they were set apart to God. In John 17:19 Jesus said, "I sanctify myself." Certainly the holy Son of God had no need to be made more holy than He was. What He means is simply that He set Himself apart to serve God, and would, through their salvation, set believers apart to the glory of God. Sanctification in Scripture is three-fold: (1) Positional--the Christian is taken out of the world and seated with Christ (John 17:16). (2) Practical--the day by day victory over sin and the gradual increase in holiness and Christ-likeness. (3) Perfect--we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Unless we keep the message of chapter 6 separated from that of chapter 7, we will confuse Paul's message and lose a great blessing. Chapter 7 presents a deeper problem than that of chapter 6. Every Christian realizes the problem of chapter 6--that his fleshly nature drags him down and tries to enslave him. But not many Christians have entered into the experiences of chapter 7--the humbling realization that we are not good!
We should recognize three key words in chapter 6--know, reckon, and yield. We must know our spiritual position and privileges in Christ. This means spending time in God's Holy Word. We must reckon that what God says about us is true. We are born of the Spirit and, because of that fact, we have available to us many privileges and much power in Christ Jesus. We must have faith in the fact that we do have these things available to us in Christ Jesus. Finally, we must yield all to the Spirit; not just once a week or at the beginning of each new day, but every moment of every day. This is truly walking in the Spirit. God has already done His part. Our responsibilities are very clear--know, reckon and yield.
Chapter 8 is one of my favorite chapters. Paul is looking to that future time when we shall be together with Christ throughout eternity and says, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (verse 18). Then, in verses 28 and 29, he tells us that "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." If we, as Christians, would realize that Satan only has access to us by God's permission, then we could rejoice in these verses. If we are children of God, Satan can only do to us that which God allows! Remember the story of Job--how Satan had to get permission to touch him! Friends, God loves us and does not want any harm to come to us. Yet, many times He allows troubles and trials to be used as instruments to conform us to the image of His Son.
Finally, verses 38 and 39 contain a great promise to all Christians: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Believe these verses! When we can believe them in their entirety, with all fears of the future laid in the hands of Christ, we will know the peace that passes all understanding.
Index of Daily Devotions