The Love of God Is not What's at Issue in Sanctification
     Romans 5:8-10 tells us plainly that God’s grace - meaning, once again, his unmerited favor - arises from his love of mankind; in short, it’s his love that prompted God the Father to send God the Son to the Cross - unfathomable mercy - incomprehensible - a divine mystery we’ll never get to the bottom of - that will stagger us throughout eternity ...

     But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
     Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
     For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
                                                                                   Romans 5:8-10

The Love of God Is Not at Issue in Sanctification

     Look closely now at verse 8: God sent Christ to die for us while we were still his enemies - still covered in sin and corruption, repulsive and filled with hate, still shaking our fist at him in defiance. Infinite love bestowed on mankind at the very moment we were hanging him on the Cross.

     And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.
     Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
                                                                                                                                                                                         Luke 23:33-34

     The point here is this: What’s at issue in sanctification is not the love of God. If God loved us infinitely at the Cross, that settles the whole matter of his love. No, now that we’ve been justified, it’s not that God will love us any less if we fail to press forward our sanctification ...

  • it’s that we will fail to develop a personal relationship with Christ;
  • it’s that we won’t grow spiritually;
  • it’s that we won’t overcome the power of sin in our lives;
  • it’s that we will be disqualified from ruling and reigning with Christ in his coming kingdom - a privilege and responsibility only the spiritually mature will be entrusted to carry out.

     God can never love us any less or any more than he loves us now. That’s the truth Paul wants us to wrap our minds and hearts ever so tightly around before taking up the topic of sanctification. Why? Because we can’t press forward our sanctification unless we truly believe it - unless we’re able to walk in it. Let me underscore that again: unless we’re convinced - truly convinced - that God loves us, even knowing that we will occasionally fail to be obedient, we will never be able to press forward our sanctification - meaning overcome the power of whatever compulsive sin might be plaguing us.

Condemnation Aborts Sanctification
     The reason is clearly highlighted throughout the Bible, beginning with Genesis Chapter Three ...

... and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God ...
                                                                                                                         Gen. 3:8

Likewise, we have Jesus’ own admonition ...

... men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

                                                                                                                         John 3:19

     In short, condemnation drives us into darkness - away from the presence of God; and because sanctification is all about abiding in God’s presence, there’s no way we can walk it out if condemnation is always nipping at our heels. Once again, that’s ...

  • why Paul at the very outset of his teaching on sanctification stresses so insistently - so forcefully - the importance of believing we’re at peace with God - that God is not our enemy, threatening to hurl us into hell; and
  • why, in addition, he starts off Chapter Eight, the climax of his exposition on sanctification, with the unforgettable declaration ...

There is therefore now no condemnation to whose who are in Christ Jesus ...
                                                                                                                         Rom. 8:1

     In my own ministry of over fifty years, I’ve counseled hundreds of believers struggling to overcome besetting sins - a bad temper, gluttony, inordinate fears of various kinds, alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, outright adultery, bitterness, and a whole host of other specific sins. And always the primary obstacle impeding their sanctification has been condemnation. That’s because when they fail - and failure will occur - they flee back into darkness. Rather than facing God, confessing their sins and believing that God doesn’t love them any less, they run from his presence and hide from him; and that always aborts sanctification.

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