Doctrine 8. Sanctification and Perseverance

Let's think about sanctification and perseverance in two ways: as summaries of biblical doctrine and as aspects of our daily experience.

Summaries of Biblical Doctrine

Sanctification: the fact, process, and destiny of being set apart from sin and grown up in righteousness so as to be like Jesus.

  • When we are united to Jesus we are as a fact set apart from sin and dedicated to righteousness as a fact (past). See Hebrews 2.11, Hebrews 10.10, 1 Corinthians 6.11, 2 Thessalonians 2.13
  • When we are united to Jesus we are in a process of being set apart from sin and growing up in righteousness (present). See 1 Thessalonians 4.4, 1 Thessalonians 5.23, 2 Corinthians 3.18, Romans 8.13, Galatians 5.22-23
  • When we are united to Jesus we have the destiny of being finally set apart from sin and made mature in righteousness (future). See I John 1-3, Colossians 1.22, Colossians 1.28

Sanctification is based on the finished work of Jesus; made effective by the power of the Holy Spirit; involves our responsibility and commitment; uses tools like the Bible, prayer, worship, fellowship, the Lord's Supper, service, and suffering.

All who are 'sanctified' are 'saints'.

Perseverance: the fact that those who are united to Jesus by faith will definitely keep going to the end because nothing can separate them from God's love and because God's preserving power turns into Christians' persevering faith.

All of those whom the Father chose and the Son died for will certainly 'make it' to glory.

  • No-one can snatch them from Jesus or the Father's hands: John 10.28-29
  • Nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ: Romans 8.35-39
  • He who started a good work will bring it to completion: Philippians 1.6
  • We are shielded by God's power through faith: 1 Peter 1.5

God's preserving work happens in and through our persevering. We should not be anxious – God will preserve us. We should not be complacent – we must persevere.

If we see Christians wandering away then we pray for them and call them back knowing that ultimately if they are truly Christ's they will return.

Aspects of our Daily Experience

Feeling like it’s too hard and you just want to give up. We’ve all been there. Maybe for some it was the stress of all the work before exams. Maybe for others it’s working in a job you really hate. Whatever it is, we all know that feeling of thinking that something is just too hard to be bothered with anymore.

Perseverance is a word we’ve probably all heard before, but maybe never really understood or thought about. According to the Oxford Dictionary, perseverance means ‘persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success’. This sounds like a pretty big thing to accomplish, but fortunately we have a perfect example to look at. Jesus.

When Jesus woke up and thought about his day ahead, I expect he might have been pretty apprehensive about going back out to preach after the crowd he was preaching to tried to throw him off a cliff. And on his way to Golgotha with people spitting on him and laughing at him all around, I think he must have been very tempted to just give in.

But that’s what makes Jesus such an incredible example for us. I may not like my job, but no one’s ever tried to throw me off a cliff. Jesus was persevering in circumstances much harder than we ever will be.

One thing that is different is that we grow and are stretched through the Holy Spirit when we persist under discouragement. The Bible calls this ‘sanctification’. Every time we struggle to achieve something, whether it’s getting through a really deep book, or cooking a meal you’ve never cooked before, we come out of it with more knowledge, experience, and understanding than we had before. This process of growth means that we come out of it better equipped for the next task that we will need to persevere to complete.

Sanctification and perseverance really go hand in hand in our journey to become more like Jesus. We persevere to achieve likeness to Jesus, therefore are sanctified by the Holy Spirit and therefore have the strength to persevere again and in a greater hardship. We persevere as disciples of Jesus in spite of our own sin, the world's opposition and the devil's worst efforts because God holds us tight. As we persevere, so we grow.

So I might not want to get out of my bed tomorrow to go to work, but I need to remember that by persevering in the small, monotonous tasks, I can become like Jesus and persevere in the greater task of fighting sin.

Article by Esther Field

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