Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Repentance and Sanctification

It was in the Garden that God removed a rib from the side of Adam and fashioned woman; she was sanctified or set apart to be the "help meet" for Adam; this woman God then gave Adam to be his bride; and the two became one flesh. When Eve became one flesh with Adam she became a joint heir of the covenant that God had made with Adam; she became a joint heir of all God had given Adam. And so she would rule and reign with her husband. We can see this principle also applied to Christ and His bride, the Church. But perhaps we can best understand this principle by studying God's calling of Abram (Abraham) and his wife.

"Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran (Gen. 12:1-4NAS)."

Because of God's love of mankind he had mercy and by grace called Abram to be the father of the household of faith. Abram heard God; he then left his father's house according to God's instructions. Abram hearing, believing and obeying God indicates that he welcomed and received the gift of faith. Abram's father was a worshiper of idols, thus we can assume Abram also was an idolater who was dead in his sins. Leaving his fathers house of sin would indicate that he believed God and turned his back on sin, thus establishing repentance. Because Abram received the gift of faith through believing and repenting it was "reckoned" to him by God as righteousness, thus Abram was justified by God (Gen. 6:15NAS).

After faith, repentance and justification, came the covenant, then circumcision as the sign of the covenant (Rom. 4:10-12NAS). The very nature of circumcision indicates a sanctification process where-by the unclean flesh of man is removed. Abraham and his household were not circumcised into the covenant but rather they received the sign of circumcision because of the covenant they had with God before circumcision {Rom. 4:13NAS}.

So, what is it that we see that God has given to Abram? By grace he called him thus giving him faith. Then God granted him repentance by accepting his leaving his father's house as a move of faith. Next, He reckoned these things to Abram as righteousness there-by granting to him justification, which is to say, not counting his sins against him. Then came sanctification; the setting apart process.

The ordinance of baptism for those under the new covenant parallels, or is comparable, and corresponds to that of the circumcision of those who were under the covenant of the Law of Circumcision. Circumcision refers to a cutting away of sin and a change of heart (Deut. 10:16; Ezek. 44:7,9). Similarly, baptism also portrays a washing away of sin (Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5-6) and a spiritual renewal (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:9-12). It is helpful to understand the Law of Circumcision, but we cannot and must not confuse or mix the rites of circumcision and those of baptism together, doing so results in false doctrines. The Christian is not under the same covenant therefore the rites are different.

"This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant (Gen. 17:10-14NAS)."

To understand how the Law of Circumcision under the old covenant corresponds to that of baptism under the new covenant we must see Abraham in the role of Christ and Sarah in the role of the church. The covenant was made with Abraham who was the head of his household. The new covenant is made between God the Father and His Son Jesus who is the head of His household (Heb. 3:6NAS). The sign of circumcision is given to Abraham and his seed after him. The sign of baptism was given to Jesus and to His seed after Him.

This brings us to Sarah and her role is likened unto that of the church. Sarah, being a woman, could not be circumcised in the same manner as her husband. Because of her love and faith toward her husband she had left her former life behind and became submissive and obedient to her husband, which can be seen as a circumcision of the heart (1 Pet. 3:5-6NAS). Thus she was one with her husband (Gen. 2:24) and his circumcision became her circumcision, and therefore she was included in the covenant.

The bride of Christ is the church. Like Sarah, the church loves her Husband and she leaves her former life behind and is submissive and obedient to her Lord. Now since Christ was crucified over two thousand years ago it is impossible for the believer to be literally crucified with Him, and so by repentance and faith toward God His crucifixion becomes the believer's crucifixion or His circumcision, through the removal of the unclean flesh in the work of the cross, becomes the believer's circumcision, if indeed he dies to the sinful deeds of the flesh with Him; in other words His death, burial and resurrection becomes the believers death, burial and resurrection.

Under the Law of Circumcision any one refusing to be circumcised broke God's covenant therefore they were excluded from the covenant (Gen. 17:4; Exo. 22:48). Our Lord Jesus was circumcised at birth according to the Law of Circumcision because He was born under the covenant of Law (Luke 2:21NAS). At about age thirty He was baptized as a sign of the new covenant of faith toward God. He was circumcised that He might fulfill the sign of the old covenant and He was baptized that He might establish baptism as the sign of the new covenant, thus fulfilling "all righteousness (Matt. 3:15NAS)." The new covenant is God's pledge to grant eternal life to all those who are called and believe through His Son Jesus (John 3:15-16).

It was father Abraham who circumcised the child born into his household. Likewise it is Christ who circumcises those who are "born of the Spirit" into His household, but His is a circumcision through the removal of the unclean flesh by the work of the cross.

"For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross {Col. 2:9-14NAS}."

We baptize the "new babe" in Christ, the born again believer, as a sign of the covenant with God through the faith he had in Christ before he was baptized. We are not baptized into the covenant of faith but we are baptized because of the covenant of faith. Repentance leads to remission or the forgiveness of sins and salvation in Jesus Christ. Conviction, repentance, faith, baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit are the entire package (Acts 2:37-38); one follows the other and each one is incomplete without the other. Sanctification, or the cleansing of ones soul of all sinfulness, is the circumcision of the heart, the removal of the unclean flesh---the body of sin. This is the spiritual baptism in Christ Jesus that is expressed or manifested outwardly in the water baptism (Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:17-22). Apart from cleansing inner being (the circumcision of the heart) baptism becomes a legalistic ritual and a mere dip in water.

Permit me if you will to alter Scripture just a bit to make a valid point. First the Scripture as it is written.

"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God {Rom. 2:28-29NAS}." Now the alteration---For he is not a Christian who is one outwardly, neither is baptism that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Christian who is one inwardly and baptism is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Baptism is not a means by which salvation is brought about, but is a sign of the new covenant of salvation through Jesus Christ (Rom. 4:10-13). Baptism serves the same purpose for new covenant believers that circumcision did for old covenant believers. For the Jews, circumcision was the external and visible sign that they were within the covenant that God had established with Abraham. Converts (or proselytes) also had to undergo this rite. But now under the new covenant, baptism instead of circumcision is required. A person who claims to have been convicted of sin, says he has repented and refuses to be baptized rejects the sign of the new covenant, thus he disobeys the commandments of God---his conviction is incomplete, his repentance is also incomplete, there is something wrong with his relationship with God and therefore his faith is lacking---he is in danger of being excluded from the new covenant.

Sanctification (setting apart for sin and the sinful) is God's purpose of His calling and His will for the believer. As the believer continues in dedication to the regeneration process of repentance and obedience to faith his soul continues to be disciplined or trained for the purpose of being "set apart" for the works of God by "the washing of water by the word (Eph. 5:26)." Those who are being "saved" has repented of sin and is justified and made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. They have, through faith, been crucified with Christ, died to sin, the adamic sin nature buried and then he is raised up in the newness of life in Christ Jesus; when this work is complete he has been sanctified (or set apart) (Rom. 6:3-11).

One who joins a church, and is baptized in water, takes unto himself the name "Christian," and puts on the appearance of being religious, but continues to willfully sin, has not repented, he has not crucified "the man of sin" with Christ, he has not died with Christ, he has not been buried with Christ and he has not been raised up in the newness of life in Christ; he has simply been dipped in water and buried alive in religiosity; he remains dead in his transgression (Eph. 2:1). He has only made a worthless and limited outward reformation and not fit for service in the Kingdom of God! He has need of repentance (Matt. 4:17; Acts 2:38; 3:19)!!!

Willful sinning is a product of willful ignorance and an unrepentant heart. Willful ignorance, unlike unbelief, is the rejection of what one knows to be the truth (Matt. 21:32). Willful ignorance consists of things such as neglect of prayer, neglect of bible study and arguing with truth until he is convinced that he is right and truth is wrong. Rather than submitting to a change of life, he twists and alters the truth to fit his life style. Thus he rejects the truth because he is not willing to repent; for he is enjoying the things that he is doing and right or wrong, sin or not, he will, like rebellious Cain, continue doing it. He loves darkness rather than light; or rather he loves sin rather than truth (John 3:19-21). He loves the ways of the world rather than God!!

It is written, "By transgression {sin} an evil man is ensnared, but the righteous sings and rejoices {Prov. 29:6NAS}."

Jesus said -----, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me {John 14:6NAS}."

Jesus is the sacrificial offering and substitute death for the satisfaction of man's sin debt before God; He and He alone died for man's sins; there is no other!! Thus He and He alone prepared the way back to the Father. Jesus is also the Word of God, thus He is the truth that leads the way to the Father; He is the "lamp unto our feet and a light to our path." And again, Jesus is the "life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45)," thus the way and the truth imparts life to the believer that he may be with the Father. If he rejects truth he also rejects his High Priest and intercessor; he rejects hope. If he says, "I love Jesus," while rejecting the truth through disobedience, he betrays and gives himself over to deception.

John the Baptist came before Jesus preaching repentance and announcing the coming of the Messiah to a very religious nation, the people of Israel (Matt. 3:2). These people had drifted far from the truth, thus they had need of repentance (Matt. 3:8). He preached repentance that they might receive the embodiment of truth, Jesus, the Word of God. When Jesus came, He came preaching repentance and announcing the kingdom of God to the same people. He preached repentance that they might turn away from sin and receive Him, and through Him enter the kingdom of God. In the beginning of the church the apostles preached repentance, to many of the same people, as well as to others, that they too might receive Jesus and through Him, the Word of Truth, enter the kingdom of God (Acts 2:38). Being baptized and becoming a member of a local "church" and acting religious does not save a man's soul. The hearing of the gospel message leads to faith, repentance and salvation through justification and sanctification (Rom. 1:16).

On the day of Pentecost Peter preached to a nation of people who had rejected the truth and crucified The Word of God.

"Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit' (Acts 2:37-38NAS)."

In answer to their desperate cry the first word out of Peter's mouth was, "repent;" repentance, and only repentance, leads to justification and the forgiveness of sins. Without repentance there is no forgiveness, no removal of guilt and there is no receiving of the Holy Spirit (Luke 13:3). Baptism will not save an unrepentant soul!! After repentance the Holy Spirit is given as a pledge of the believer's inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14; Acts 2:38) and for the purpose of the work of sanctification and other glorious works of God.

The true nature of repentance is most often misunderstood. Many sorrow that they have sinned, and even make an outward reformation, only because they fear that their sin will bring suffering upon themselves. Esau was grieved over the loss of his birthright (Gen. 27:36-38) and Balaam acknowledged his guilt when he feared the loss of his life (Numbers 22:32-34). Even Pharaoh, when suffering under the judgments of God, acknowledge his sin, in order to escape further punishment, but immediately returned to his defiance of Moses and God as soon as the plagues were ceased. All these mourned the results of sin, but did not grieve for the sin itself. This is not true repentance. True repentance, like faith and love is a gift from God. When the Holy Spirit, through the gospel message, reveals the love that God has shown mankind through the giving of His Son, conviction takes hold upon the soul of the sinner. His soul yields to the influence of the Holy Spirit of God; he then has a sense of the righteousness and love of God; he sees his own sin nature as being evil and against his loving Creator. He begins to have a feeling of contrition or broken heartedness and a precise and fixed change of mind. Therefore, in a godly sense, repentance means an awareness of guilt and a feeling of remorse, regret and sorrowfulness for sin.

When man first believes, he receives God's gifts of love and faith. He then, through faith, loves God in return by repenting and turning to Him. Thus repentance is two-fold in as much as it is turning away from sin and turning to God with love and faith toward Him through His Son Jesus. Consequently repentance brings forgiveness of sin and removes all feelings of guilt and brings about a deep-seated positive change in a person's relationship with God. The repentant believer rejoices in the love of God and clearly sees the beauty of holiness, the joy of purity; he longs to be cleansed, sanctified and restored to unity and total harmony with God.

Is repentance necessary to salvation? Yes; when one first believes he is justified and Jesus becomes his Savior, Lord, King and High Priest. As High Priest, He intercedes for the believer as he struggles with the process of dieing to sin. Each time the Holy Spirit brings the deceptive darkness of sin in one's life under the light of the word of God the believer again repents; thus through repentance the old sin nature, is nailed to the cross with Jesus----there to die with Him. To the flesh sin nature, the piercing nails of repentance are a painful death, but it is necessary in the process of sanctification. The believer does not come into the knowledge of all of the truths of God suddenly; therefore sanctification is not an instant process. It is a metamorphosis---a change or transformation over a period of time. Just how much time depends on the believer's depth of love for God and his devotion to prayer, study of the scriptures and his obedience to the Holy Spirit. The end results of repentance are both justification and sanctification. Hence the old sin nature is dead and a new creature of the nature of God is resurrected in Christ.

The psalmist cries out in true repentance, "Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice. Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness {Ps. 51:1-14NAS}."

"----------Truly, truly, I say unto you, unless one is born of water (word) and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'" (John 3:5ff).

Apart from the cleansing by the word and the Spirit of God there is no regeneration, no sanctification and no salvation for the soul of man. Do not neglect hearing the word of God;

For it is written,

"man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord (Deut. 8:3ff & Luke 4:4ff)."

Salvation begins at the cross with Jesus, the Word of God, continues with the Word of God and is completed by the Word of God; and all is by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit that is from God.

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:11-14)."

Justification is the open door through which regeneration enters and sanctification begins. Justification results in purification of the soul from the guilt and power of sin. Sanctification results in a life of service in the works that God has prepared for those who are being saved (Eph. 2:10).

The Scripture teaches,

--- "For if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25)."

"If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph. 4:21-24)." "SET YOUR MIND on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory (Col. 3:2-4)."

God's plan has never changed. As it was in the beginning, so it is today. God created man in His image; then man sinned; now God's work is reconciliation and restoration of the entire man that he may once again be a manifestation of His Glory (1 Thes. 5:23). Christ Jesus came into the world a man in God's image; and He left this world through death on the cross and was raised up; still in God's image. Through Him there is justification, regeneration and sanctification and complete restoration.

When one is born again the spirit that is in the believer is of the seed of Him that is in the image of God (1 John 3:9). Thus, the spirit in the believer is in the image of God. Therefore the born again believer has within him the image of God; all the attributes of God are in him; love, mercy, grace, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control and etc. Also abiding in the believer is the Spirit of God given as a teacher and a helper; the power to help the believer overcome sin in his soul and body; the power for complete restoration and reconciliation; the power to manifest the glory of God.

As to the Apostle Paul's question,

" who will save me from this body of sin" he responds, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh. God did sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin. He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, WHO DO NOT WALK ACCORDING TO THE FLESH, BUT ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, (set their minds on) the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he does not belong to Him. And If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you (Rom. 8:1-11)."

In his response Paul makes it clear that the Law of the Spirit of Life applies only to those who are in Christ and are living their lives according to the leading of the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Setting ones mind is the exercise of one's free will; to set your mind on the Spirit you must first submit your will to the will of God.

Jesus said,

"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matt 16:25 NASU)."

Submissive obedience is an act of love that assures the believer of oneness with God through Christ Jesus; therefore set your mind on the things of the Spirit and live the richness, fullness and completeness of life that God has called you into.

"So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Rom. 8:12-14)."

Pastor Jake

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