I am enjoying, very much, a book by Ryan Rufus, called "Sanctification by Grace." It simply is a must read for anyone wanting to get a basic understanding of what sanctification really looks like. Many of us who have come into freedom in Christ, have had past teaching on sanctification that were based on our own 'holy living' and efforts to grow and mature, through our own efforts and conquering of sin. This is NOT a helpful way to view sanctification, obviously, as apart from Him we can do nothing. It's all by Him and through Him that we live and move and have our being! So, I really want to quote a chunk of a chapter in Ryan's book, on "Being Sanctified."
"We need to be so careful when we come to sanctification that we don't start thinking works all of a sudden. It's not about self effort and discipline. The way we start thinking works is by falsely making the deduction that if the event of sanctification has to do with your spirit, and if the process of sanctification has to do with your body and mind, then surely, for the process, we must focus on our body and mind and trying to change them? Actually the process of sanctification keeps its focus on our spirit. Sanctification is about what flows out of our spirit not about the disciplines we apply to our mind and body to try and change them. "But isn't the process about us focusing on offering our body and renewing our mind?" Actually it's about focusing on how to empower your spirit to rule through your body and mind. Keep the focus on your spirit. A renewed mind and a conquered body will not fight your spirit but will flow with and serve your spirit and will be a delight to you!
Religion will have you focus on the external. Grace is all about the internal. Religion applies controls to the external to try and force change to the internal. Sanctification is about discovering the internal spiritual transformation and helping that to flow out to the externals. There are things you can do with your mind and body (externals) to help the flow, but if you make the focus you mind and body you will reverse the flow and it doesn't work that way!
Sanctification is about your spirit rising in dominion and reigning and expressing itself through your mind and body. It's not about applying discipline and rules to your mind and body in the hope that it will produce holiness and spirituality in your spirit."
In this next section, you will see that Ryan divides grace up into two parts, acceptance grace and empowering grace. Grace is grace and vast and wide is the sum of it. But for clarity sake I think he does this, to show how the church has dissected grace in an unhelpful way. In other words, some say, we have been saved by grace and accepted by grace and forgiven, but now we need to do a whole lot of things in order to live a 'godly' life and this is empowering grace. The Holy Spirit helps us do a whole lot of external behaviour stuff, and they teach that there is a whole lot stuff you need to do!! They are really promoting flesh and works. Anyway, here's the next portion.
"Titus 2:11 says, 'For the grace of God that bring salvation, has appeared to all man, it teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live godly lives.....'
The bible says it there, that it's the grace of God that teaches us to say no to sin! And that the grace that teaches us to say 'no' is the exact same grace that 'brings salvation'!
Now some preach empowering grace as 'things we have to do'. And it's to try and move Christians to action. People who haven't seen their salvation (internal transformation) are continually looking for ways to apply external pressure to move Christians to action. They can call it empowering grace all they want, but it is law dressed up as grace!
If they could just see how acceptance grace and empowering grace flow from the same source and to the same destination, their message would change and they would truly help people. Let me explain that.
Acceptance grace is not only for justification, it's also for sanctification. Because of it, through it, and out of it will come empowering grace! Something that every believer needs to realize is that empowering grace is not a concept. Empowering grace is a person! God! Acceptance grace is what brings us to Him and continually empowers us to live close to Him no matter what. The more you understand acceptance grace the more you are empowered to come to God and the more you encounter God the more you encounter empowering grace. People who encounter God encounter the very person who is empowering grace. (In other words, it's out of a love relationship!!!) He empowers us to overcome sin, and He empowers us to love and to do the works of Jesus and greater works. When you encounter God you are empowered. Acceptance grace is what clears the way for you to come to God and encounter Him. Not encountering the concept of God, but actually really encountering God the Father, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit in their tangible presence."
So, in other words, coming to a revelation understanding of the finished work of the cross. Seeing, truly seeing that God loves us and nothing will change that fact, nothing we do or don't do, and He is not every going to be angry with us again. It's finally getting the love and acceptance we all have been searching for all our lives and letting the truth of that sink in so deep that is causes radical transformation in our lives!! Once we come to understand God's love and acceptance, we will want to draw near to God. We will not fear relating with Him. We will live constantly before the throne of grace because we have no fear of rejection ever again from God! It's this understanding of truth that begins to set us free to live as free, redeemed people!!
In other words, grace is not a doctrine, nor is sanctification. Grace is a person, Jesus! And sanctification is the living out of our relationship with Jesus! His love compels us!!! Ryan explains why sometimes Christians may have bad behaviour;
"Now a lot of Christian 'bad behavior' is not a lack of discipline, it's a lack of encounter. To correct the bad behavior many want to give a list of things Christians need to change, start doing or become. And too often, they motivate with fear by saying, 'If you don't change then God will do this or that to you.' 'If you keep sinning God will punish you', 'You will lose your salvation', 'you'll come under curse' or 'God can't bless you' etc. That's just manipulation and behavior modification pressure. The problem isn't their behavior, it's their relationship with God. It's not in a good place. Most likely because they're under law and feel far from God, guilty and condemned. The further away from God, the easier it is to just give into sin. The closer you are to God the harder it is to give into sin. When you live close to God, He sorts out your bad attitudes, anger, pride, lust, doubt, selfishness etc! It's hard to live in His presence and hold onto sin. The only way you can hold onto sin is to stay out of His presence. Your wasting your time to try and change people's behavior through imposing external restraints. Rather help them get into the presence of God. (my clarifier, help them understand that they can not be seperated from God, ever, and that you have His very presence with you always, as you now carry the very spirit of Christ in you!) The only way you can do that is by teaching them grace! Grace ignites the passion in the spirit of a born again believer to encounter God more. (or live out of an understanding of 'Christ in you')"
"The more we hear about grace, (Jesus), the more we realize there are no obstacles in the way for us to encounter God."
"Sanctification is basically all about getting established in grace!"
"The process of sanctification is really all about being established in grace and living in grace (Christ!). You know we could just drop the whole idea of sanctification or even ignore it all together and just preach true grace and you'd find sanctification happening in the lives of Christians! If more preachers could stop focusing on holiness and service and obedience to God and simply preached pure grace (Christ and Him crucified!) they would see the results are holiness and service and obedience to God in people's lives!
You don't have to pull on the branches of a plant to help it grow!! Just give it light, feed the roots, and it will grow!"
Yup, we are branches of the True Vine! We are baby, child, teenage and adult oaks of righteousness. We cannot become any oakier! We are just getting rooted and established in grace and going from glory to glory!!! We really can trust this Divine Life we have! We do not need to fear on the basis of what our flesh may look like at any given moment in life! We are not our flesh! We are who God says we are! We are in Him! He is in us! We are safe and secure!! Grace and peace to all who read here!!
(This book will soon be available online for purchase, I will make sure to let you all know when it is!)