14 July 2014

Sanctification: A Positive Certainty

J.C. Ryle
He who supposes that Jesus Christ only lived and died and rose again in order to provide justification and forgiveness of sins for His people, has yet much to learn. Whether he knows it or not, he is dishonoring our blessed Lord, and making Him only a half Savior. The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people's souls require; not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by His atoning death, but from the dominion of their sins, by placing in their hearts the Holy Spirit—not only to justify, but also to sanctify them. He is, thus, not only their “righteousness,” but their “sanctification” (1 Cor 1:30). Let us hear what the Bible says: “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified” (John 17:19). “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it” (Eph 5:25). “Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). Christ “bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (1 Pet 2:24). Christ hath reconciled you “in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight” (Col 1:22). Let the meaning of these five texts be carefully considered. If words mean anything, they teach that Christ undertakes the sanctification, no less than the justification of His believing people. Both are alike provided for in that “everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure” (2 Sam 23:5), of which the Mediator is Christ. In fact, Christ in one place is called: “He that sanctifieth,” and His People, “they who are sanctified” (Heb 2:11). . . .

Sanctification, again, is the outcome and inseparable consequence of regeneration. He that is born again and made a new creature, receives a new nature and a new principle, and always lives a new life. A regeneration which a man can have, and yet live carelessly in sin or worldliness—is a regeneration never mentioned in Scripture. He that is born of God doth not commit sin, doeth righteousness, loveth the brethren, keepeth himself, and overcometh the world (1 John 2:29; 3:9-14; 5:4-18). In a word, where there is no sanctification there is no regeneration, and where there is no holy life there is no new birth. This is a hard saying to many minds; but, hard or not, it is Bible truth. It is written plainly, that he who is born of God is one whose “seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9).

Sanctification, again, is the only certain evidence of that indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is essential to salvation. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom 8:9). The Spirit never lies dormant and idle within the soul. He always makes His presence known by the fruit He causes to be borne in heart, character, and life. “The fruit of the Spirit,” says St. Paul, “is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” and such like (Gal 5:22). Where these things are to be found, there is the Spirit; where these things are wanting, men are dead before God. The Spirit is compared to the wind, and, like the wind, He cannot be seen by our bodily eyes. But just as we know there is a wind by the effect it produces on waves, and trees, and smoke, so we may know the Spirit is in a man by the effects He produces in the man's conduct. It is nonsense to suppose that we have the Spirit, if we do not also “walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:25). We may depend on it as a positive certainty, that where there is no holy living, there is no Holy Ghost. The seal that the Spirit stamps on Christ's people is sanctification. As many as are actually “led by the Spirit of God, they,” and they only, “are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14).

—J. C. Ryle, The Ryle Anthology (Kindle Locations 1870-1882, 1895-1909).

Further Reading
Church of England Celebrates 20 Years of Disobedience to God's Word
The Light Shines in the Darkness
The Parable of the Soils: Giving or Gospel?


  1. This is one of the "lost doctrines" of our day. "Lost" in that it is seldom if ever taught. In it's place we find nothing but endless excuses made for our continued indulgence in our favorite sins. 1 Corinthians is massaged into an unbiblical diatribe of our so called "freedom in Christ" so that we easily excuse our sins and call it "freedom". Gone is the teaching of Christ that we must daily take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Gone is Gal 2:20&21. Gone is 2 Tim. 2:19. The prevailing attitude of many is that since we've been forgiven and heaven is our destination, then sin is no longer something that should concern us because now "I'm a Christian". There is even a very popular teacher (non-charismatic/wof type) of world renown that teaches this very thing. He says that all our sins are forgiven and therefore we have no need of any further confession of sin or repentance of the same, this he does in total disregard of 1John 1.

    Real regeneration produces many things such as an ever increasing gratitude for His mercy and a humility before the God of our salvation heretofore unknown in our lost estate. It also produces a repugnance for all sin (especially our own) which is completely foreign to an unbeliever. David was considered a "man after God's own heart" even after his adulterous affair with Bath-Sheba and the murder of her husband. Why? Because he owned his own sins, confessed them to His Lord and sought His forgiveness (2Sam. 12 and Acts 13:22). Sadly, many see this as unnecessary in today's "evangelical" circles and even detrimental to one's "spiritual well-being" since, they claim, confession of sins is no longer needed and contemplation of our deeds only serves to depress us and lower our "self-esteem". Scriptures like Psa. 139:23 & 24 and Psa. 19:12 &13 are for someone else and all but redacted from our minds and the written copy of His Word we possess.

    After all that Paul told the Corinthians in both letters concerning their sins and their lack of a godly response to his admonitions he left the entire matter with one final word of exhortation: "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith..." If there is not a DAILY battle against our own sins it is highly likely that such a one has deceived themselves into believing that all is well with their soul when the exact opposite is the case and is yet in his sins and still lost. Would we make the Words of the Lord Jesus in Luke 9:23 of no effect by ignoring His call for us to take up our cross DAILY?

  2. His water (sanctification) enables us to assume with integrity the position that Christ shed His blood to give us.


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