Note: The following list headings came from David Powlison’s “How Does Sanctification Work” Found at this LINK. I highly recommend this resource. In Philippians 2:12, Paul wrote, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This verse usually circles around the conversation of sanctification.
Sanctification is normally defined as “the process by which a person of faith is made more holy.” This is the breakdown of the word. Sancti--from the Latin word for “holy” and ficare--from the Latin word “to declare.” Therefore, sancti-ficare is “to declare holy.”
I, personally, am not a big fan of this definition because it implies that salvation is a process, to a certain degree, throughout our lives.
Sanctification is a process, true. And sanctification is a piece in the whole salvation puzzle, true, But, sanctification is not a process of salvation. That distinction must be made or else the temptation is to fall into a works-righteousness, or legalistic salvation mentality. Both are far too easy for our hearts to move towards.
We were saved by grace alone, are sanctified by grace alone, and will be glorified by grace alone.
Rather, I tend to use the definition of sanctification as “growing in grace" or more rightly with the definition of the words, "a realization of the declaration of holiness."
This means that as an individual turns from their bondage to sin, and towards the person of Jesus Christ they are simultaneously justified, that is DECLARED righteous and innocent; and they are sanctified, that is DECLARED holy. The process of this sanctification is not a further production of holiness, or a further declaration of the status of this holiness, but rather a growing in the knowledge of this holiness. As we mature in faith as friends of Jesus, we more quickly recognize our status as set apart.
This is growing in grace.
Yet, we are left with the question of, the "HOW", to “work out my own salvation with fear and trembling?” What kind of mindset must I have?
Allow me to offer you a list of 9 realities to help shape your heads, hearts, and hands as you seek to life your life towards God and grow in this grace.
1) Remember God is Sovereign This can often sound trite and stale. But, friends believe me when I say this is a biblical reality that is tested and tried and put under great tension. The things in our lives shift and change as we realize God has called us into his purposes in Jesus.
2) Rehearse and Remind of IdentityBeing united with Jesus is the cornerstone of your salvation, not the works you do or don’t do. Reminding yourself of this identity comforts, guides, and encourages as we live our lives in a world of difficulty.
3) Honest Accountability You are not intended to be a sheep without a shepherd or a flock. No one can do the life of faith alone. NO ONE. The Lord positions his people in such a way so that we rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, but it requires honesty, vulnerability, trust, and accountability. (This will be another blog post at some point: what is an accountability partner?”)
4) Means of Grace To flourish in a relationship with Jesus it requires the “means of grace.” This is, the ways in which our good God has established and provided for his people to know, love, worship, serve, and thrive in him. Sitting under sound doctrinal preaching, membership in a local fellowship of believers, participation in corporate worship, the sacraments (ordinances) of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, constant meditation on Scripture, and prayer.
5) Spiritual Warfare The enemy of the people of God wants to thwart and devour us. We have been given the weapons of faith and love to extinguish his flaming darts, and to resist the lies, accusations, temptations, and aggression of our fierce opponent.
6) Serving Christian, get busy! The Lord has given you gifts to use for his glory and for the sake of others. Service specifically within the local body of Christ you are a member is a means of grace itself.
7) Past Grace You, as a Christian, have been purchased by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. This past grace of forgiveness, reconciliation, and justification affirms that, forever, God is for you because he saved you to himself.
8) Present Grace As the Lord Jesus ascended into the throne room of grace, he sent the Holy Spirit to indwell his people. This is a present grace to provide strength and perseverance in our day to day lives. This is not only an affirmation of God being for you, it is a reality of God with you.
9) Future Grace Setting our eyes on only what is in front of us leads to cynicism, resentment, and worldliness as we fall back into the identity of our sin and away from Jesus. Future Grace is the clear reality that, not only at the cross does God prove his love is for you. Not only in the sending of the Holy Spirit God shows that he is with you, but in hope (confidence) we set our eyes forward that God will come for you.
These are not fixes for sin. We will sin. These are things to remember as we try our best, walking by the Spirit of God in us, to orient our heads, hearts, and hands towards Jesus.
As we wake up, take the steps of the day, and lay down in peace at night, may one or two of these come to mind.
Remember them. Focus on them. And in this, we grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Coram Deo