Session Three - Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31

This study was originally presented over a five day period in July 1997 as a series of radio talks by Pastor Keith Graham. The material will be more profitable if digested in its five separate sessions, of which this is the third.

Paul's third term in our verse is SANCTIFICATION. The word sanctify means to set apart for a special purpose. At creation, God set apart, or sanctified, the seventh day as the sabbath. In the Law God said, "Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast: it belongs to Me", Exodus 13:2. That is, the firstborn was set apart as God's special possession. Jesus told His disciples to say in prayer, "hallowed be Thy name". It might be read, "sanctified be Your name"; that is, let your name be set apart as holy and special. Jesus said He sanctified Himself for His disciples, that they also might be sanctified in truth, John 17:19.

Now Jesus IS the truth, and so we see that He Himself articulates the same thing His apostle does in 1 Corinthians, that He Himself is our sanctification...our coming into a state of real holiness. How does this work? It works by reason of the Christian's unity with Christ.

In our last session we spoke of how all people were in Adam when he fell into sin. By virtue of being united to Jesus Christ, His people died when He died and rose from the dead to a new kind of life when He arose, as Paul says in Romans 6: "Do you not know that all of us who have baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become UNITED with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection."

In John 15, Jesus says, "I am the vine, you are the branches; apart from Me you can do...NOTHING". Only by abiding in Him can we bring forth fruit. Just as a grapevine delivers life-giving sap to its branches to enable them to bear clusters, so Christ in us empowers us to live holy lives, keeping God's commandments. The sinful human nature can no more produce santification than it can produce justification: being declared righteous. Nothing in my flesh will ever serve to make me stand righteous before God, nothing in my flesh will ever make me holy.

This is Paul's burden in his letter to the Galatians. The Galatians had heard and believed the gospel of God's free gift of righteousness by faith, but false teaching had bewitched them. Having begun in the Spirit of the Christ Who justifies by faith in Himself, they were deceived into believing they should continue to grow in holiness by their unprofitable, fleshly selves. Likewise to the Colossians, Paul writes, "as you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith...". How did you receive Christ and His free gift of salvation? By faith. How do you continue to live the Christian life? By faith; by trusting in Christ to do the work of making you a vessel set apart unto God's special use.

We must be careful to note that the Biblical view of sanctification does not invalidate struggle and discipline. The disciple does not depend on himself, but neither is he utterly passive. Faith must be exercised unto justification, and faith must exercised for growth in grace. The Christian life is one of slugging it out with bitter enemies: the world, flesh, and the devil. The power to do it comes from the Lord.

This is why I affirm that the word LEGALISM has usurped its place. It has been given a much broader definition that it deserves. Today, some Christians seem to regard as legalism anything that speaks of obedience, that has to do with duty, that smacks of diligently putting the hand to the plow, that requires putting some sweaty toil into discipleship. Yet the One Whom Christians follow labored and gave of Himself to the point that He needed to sleep in boats and didn't have time to eat. His sweat became as drops of blood, because of His labor in prayer, Luke 22:44. He picked up a rough, heavy, shameful cross and carried it. True discipleship includes all these things, and hardships and stress with it, yet true discipleship does not include legalism. Real Christianity has heard the Lord say that unless one takes up his own cross daily and follows Him, he cannot be a disciple. Real worshippers know that God meant what He said and said what He meant in proclaiming that faith without works is dead.

Legalism really has a very narrow definition. A legalist is one who consciously maintains that by obedience to the Law of God, he is able to stand in a right relationship with God. His trust for his salvation is in his own works. Anyone who puts his trust here is in for a very rude awakening indeed!

The legalist's posture is far different from the attitude of the person who knows how exceedingly broad in application the Law is, requiring obedience in the innermost thoughts and desires as well as in word and deed, who knows that in himself he could never measure up, and yet who delights in the Law. This one has learned that Jesus Christ is His wisdom and righteousness - by Whom he stands in a right relationship with God, clothed with a perfect righteousness. Now, though he understands that it is God Who is at work in him, he works out his own salvation with fear and trembling, Philippians 2:12. Perhaps this brief meditation on Galatians 2:20 will help make the point...

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.
And the life which I now live in the flesh,
I live by faith in the Son of God,
Who loved me and gave Himself for me.

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer self will that rules, but God's good and perfect will.
And the things which I now determine to do in the flesh
I purpose according to faith in Him Whose food was to obey His Father,
Who loved me and set His face toward the cross for me.

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer according to the fleshly mind of enmity against God,
but according to the mind of Christ that I think.
This transformation by the mind's renewal is by faith in the Word Incarnate,
Who loved me and thought it a small thing to humble Himself for me.

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer fleshly lusts and affections that motivate, but Godly ones
And the desires and feelings I now have in the flesh,
Flow from the new heart promised under the New Covenant, enacted
In His blood Who loved me and became a Man of Sorrows for me.

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer with the stuff of this world that I provide myself,
But God supplies all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
And all this provision is by faith in Him Who had nowhere to lay His head,
Who loved me and both hungered and made Himself poor for me.

I have been crucified with Christ.
My schedule no longer prevails, but His Who came in time's fulness
And I redeem the remaining hours in the flesh
Through faith in the One Whose goings forth are from everlasting,
Who loved me and spent His earthly days for me.

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer in the flesh that I glory, but in Jesus the Lord of glory
And the approval, recognition, and honor which I now seek in the flesh
Is that which comes from God, and is sought by faith in the Scorned One,
Who loved me and made Himself of no reputation for me.

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer in the arm of flesh that I confide,
But in the One Who said "believe in God, believe also in Me".
And the assurance I now know in the flesh
Is in accordance with the promise to believers in the Son of God,
Who loved me and entrusted His soul to His Father for me.

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer on anything in the flesh that I set my hope
But on partaking in that glorious mystery, "Christ in you, the hope of glory".
And this blessed hope in which I now rejoice with a joy unspeakable,
Is according to faith in the coming Son of Man,
Who loved me and will on that day conform me perfectly to Him.

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer the sounding brass or tinkling cymbal of self
But the love of God shed abroad in this poor heart of flesh,
And the treasure now carried in this earthen vessel
IS the very life of the One Whose name is sacrificial Love.

Christian, Jesus IS your sanctification.

Go to Session Four - Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31
Go to 2 Timothy 2:15 Dept.
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