Sanctification and Holiness

As obedient children, do not conform the the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: “Be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-15)

Having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, having been justified by faith, the next part to address in the “newborn” Christian life is sanctification and holiness by faith. If being born again and being set apart from this world was like God bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt, then the process of sanctification and holiness is the journey through the wilderness, God bringing the “Egypt out of Israel”.

I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourself and be holy, because I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44)

And

I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; there be holy because I am holy. (Leviticus 11:45)

We must be aware of our own condition:

Condition 1: Holy. (Before the throne of God)

Condition 2: Clean (Sanctified)

Condition 3: Unclean. Defiled by evil spirit(s)

Condition 4: Possessed. Oppressed by an evil spirit(s)

Even a Christian, even one that have received the Holy Spirit, can be in conditions 3 and 4, defiled and oppressed by evil spirit(s). When one sins and goes against the will of God, Satan brings a charge (lawsuit) against us. God is a just God, if we have sinned, he may withdraw his protection over us and allow Satan to defile and oppress us. We then come under spiritual attack.

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord says to Satan, “Very well, then everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (Job 1:9-12)

Here God removes his protection over his household and assets, and allows Satan to oppress Job because Job sacrificed to God on behalf of his children as part of a “exchange for protection” rather than from the heart. But note that God continues to protect Job himself. God wanted Job to bring his children before the throne of God, rather than perform a ritual sacrifice on behalf of them. This is no different to saying my children will be blessed because I go to church every Sunday.

When we are unclean and possessed, we must repent of our sins and seek God’s forgiveness. The Holy Spirit is our counsellor who tells us what words and actions to draw up our plead to the Father. Then Jesus Christ, our mediator brings the plead to the Father, and as the high priest and the Lamb of God pays the penalty of our sins  using his blood. The Father, the Judge of the Earth, then forgives our sins and sanctifies us. The charge from Satan is removed and the evil spirit have no legal right to operate any longer.

Then he showed me Joshua, the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who where standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by. (Zechariah 3:1-5)

Satan is our accuser and seeks to oppress us and brings us to our destruction and fire. The Lord is our salvation, when we turn to him and repent of our sins, he takes aware our sins and cleanses us. As we walk with the Lord in the wilderness, he stirs up events to shows us our sins, so that there is death to our old self.

But the people were thirsty for water there and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” (Exodus 17:3)

Although the people had experienced the division of the Red Sea, under the conditions of no water, they grumbled and quarreled against Moses. Getting Moses to strike the rock and the miracle of water coming out of it for the people to drink is the easy part for God. The tough part is for people to learn that God is their provider, he wants them to learn to turn to him and seek God.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without a fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not or labour in vain. (Philippians 2:14)

Unfortunately, the people of Israel continued to grumble and argue, they grumbled when the water was bitter. They grumbled when they did not get to eat meat. They grumbled when the spies brought back the report on the exploration of Canaan, the promised land. God hates grumbling because it shows that there is lack of faith in God. It is not enough to proclaim that God is our protector and our provider, we must also be able to externally demonstrate so in faith.

In the same way, faith by itself, if is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 3:17)

Faith comes from God and is essential to the Christian life. Faith is both one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and also one of the “favors” of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Pray to God, asking for more faith and strength as we carry our cross and continue to follow Jesus Christ.

And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil person, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:2-3)

As we walk with God in the wilderness, as events happen that bring us discontent and unhappiness, do not complain, do not grumble, do not argue with your family, friends, colleagues. Know that God knows the future, God is almighty, God is omnipresent. Instead, go before the throne of God, ask him why he has allowed these events to happen, are there areas in our old life that he wants us to reform and put right? Are there sins he wants us to repent?

If we refuse to repent, if we still resort to our old ways, if we run away, God may temporarily allow us to do so, but God does not give up on us. The next test of faith will be even harder. Do not prolong the walk in the wilderness, as the people of Israel walked for forty years. Have faith in God, seek God, walk in obedience to God.

The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep his commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. (Deuteronomy 28:9)

Repentance and the Holy Spirit

To repent of one’s sins is not just asking God for forgiveness. Reading out the sinner’s prayer is not repentance. It requires knowing God’s will and carrying out the action according to his will, turning around from the direction one had previously taken.

What should we do then? the crowd asked. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Even the tax collectors came to be baptised. “Teacher,” they asked, “What should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him,”And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:11)

John the Baptist demonstrated that repentance required action. It meant if one was miserly, to give. If one was corrupt, to stop doing so. And if one was complaining, to be content. It is a sincere demonstration of changing one’s behaviour and actions to follow God’s will. This is a wonderful start of acknowledging God by seeking to know and carrying out his will.

Ask God today, if there is anything in your life that he does not like, then pray to him for the spirit of repentance to come upon, to give us the strength to reform and please him. As we diligently read the bible and meditate on his word everyday, the Holy Spirit guides us in forming the words to our prayer to confess our sins to our Father and pleading the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, to wash away our sins, so that we may have clean hands and a pure heart.

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and Fire.” (Matthew 3:11)

After acknowledging God, repenting of our sins, believing in Jesus Christ, being baptize with water in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit for our past sins, the next part is to receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. Thus far, the key ingredient here is faith. It takes faith to acknowledge God, faith to repent, faith to go on believing in Jesus Christ and faith that the water baptism will supernaturally take away our past sins. To receive the gift of the Holy Spirit takes faith too. It is promised by Jesus Christ, so just by declaring in his name, that one receives the Holy Spirit is sufficient. God is faithful.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Why do you need to Holy Spirit?Firstly, it is a seal, marking us a God’s possession. Second, it is a powerful confirmation that you have believed (please go on believing). Thirdly, the Holy Spirit will testify about Jesus Christ.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 14:13)

God does not want us to go back to following the law after believing in Jesus Christ. Knowing the law and trying to religiously follow them by depending on their own willpower did not create a Israel that was pleasing in God’s eyes. Neither does he want to depend on a country’s laws or a religious organization to control or supervise our behavior. God wants us to rely on his spirit.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)

And

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, “Know the Lord.” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

Isn’t this a wonderful and better covenant? Instead of ritualised sacrifices or rigid religous services, God will instead capture our hearts and minds, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who will guide us into the truth. The Holy Spirit hears from the Father and Jesus Christ and reveals to us his will. We will then know the Lord, his will, his temper, his emotions, his thoughts.

The Holy Spirit is wonderful! He tells us what sins we have been charged with. He teaches us to praise and worship the Lord. He explains to us the Word of the Lord. He gives us gifts of the Holy Spirit. He guides us to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22).

Let us strive to we truly know and experience the one true and living God, the Holy Trinity, as the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.