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Monday, May 20, 2013

Man Now Another Species Than God Created # 9

"What Is Man?"

The Nature of Sanctification

While we cannot extend ourselves to a comprehensive consideration of the subject of sanctification, we are sure that a very great deal of confusion through false conceptions would be removed if it were seen in the light of the difference between soul and spirit. For, indeed, this is the key of the matter. As sanctification is but the continuation of regeneration, because regeneration is but sanctification begun, it has to be seen as in the same sphere as new birth. We have said that  in a new birth it is not the soul but the spirit that is born from above - or born again.

The soul remains prone to evil to the end. This fact constitutes the basis for the whole doctrine of sanctification, inasmuch as the New Testament is one big exhortation to spiritual progress by spiritual ascendancy. There is ever an enemy to holiness in man's own nature, and holiness in us is not fixed and static, it is progressive. All trial, testing, chastening and suffering lose their meaning if there is no ground or fear of failure. Enlargement has ever been, and ever is, by conflict. There has only been One in Whose nature there existed no actual and positive evil or sin.

The question of sanctification has been greatly confused because certain Scriptures have been made basic which really were not meant primarily to deal with sanctification in itself.

The Problem of Romans 7 and 1 John, Etc.

For instance, we have Romans 7, and the first Letter of John. We cannot quote the entire text, but we extract the salient parts.

"... The law is spiritual: but I am carnal ... For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practice; but what I hate, that I do ... I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not."  "... I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which ins in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? (or, this body of death). I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I myself with the mind serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit ... They that are after the spirit (do mind) the things of the spirit ... the mind of the spirit is life and peace ... But ye are ... in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ... If Christ is in you ... the spirit is life because of righteousness ... If by the spirit ye do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live." (Romans, chapters 7, 8).

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive ... If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." "Everyone that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness."  "Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither knoweth Him." "He that doeth sin is of the devil." "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because His seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God." (1 John 1:8-10; 3:4, 6, 8, 9).

On the face of it, these last Scriptures appear to present a contradiction of the first magnitude, but as the Word of God cannot contradict itself there must be some way in which they are all true.

But first let us repeat that these Scriptures were not written in the first instance in connection with sanctification. Romans 7 was written in relation to justification and deliverance from the law. 1 John was written in relation to a true and a false Christianity, the genuine new birth, and the claim of some to be Christians. The two categories are represented by two clauses or phrases: "We know"; "He that saith." One indicates living experience, the other the unsubstantiated claim. Apostasy was in view with John.

But in both cases one thing is common; it is the nature of the new birth and its outworking in life afterward. Sanctification comes up as one with regeneration in nature, but as the issue and progressive outworking of regeneration. We cannot therefore read Romans 7 without going on into Chapter 8, and we cannot read 1 John without noting all of its governing words, such as "walk," "abide", "practice." We will touch that again.

The Place in Experience of Romans 7

We must first of all place this chapter. To what part of man's history or experience does it belong? Is it the experience of one who has no inward work of the Holy Spirit, or is it that of one who has been spiritually quickened? We think that it is the latter. There are several reasons for this conclusion. Firstly, the letter was written to believers, amongst whom were Jewish converts whose clean cut with the law had not been made, and who, on the one hand, were in a state of unsettled and restless or uncertain spiritual life, really neither one thing nor the other as to daily experience, failing and repenting, failing and repenting in monotonous repetition, and almost despairing of victory; and, on the other hand, needing further enlightenment and instruction as to what being "in Christ Jesus" really means. They were not in liberty or deliverance because of an inadequate apprehension of the death and resurrection of Christ; that is, of its representative aspect as in addition to its substitutionary. Secondly, Paul, having already stated what identification with Christ really means (Chapter 6), goes on to show that its result is to draw a line between the flesh and the spirit in the believer, and makes the demand that the "walk" shall be in the spirit. Failure to do this always produces the state set forth in Chapter 7. It was a condition not uncommon among Christians even in New Testament times, as see 1 Corinthians and Galatians, and which drew out the mass of New Testament writings.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10 - "The Effect of Spiritual Awakening")

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