Pursuing Sanctification Together
October 6, 2019
Opening Thoughts On Sanctification
- As a church, we believe the scriptures are clear — God intends for believers to live in fellowship with one another in the context of the local church.
- One important aspect of our life together is growing together.
- The process whereby Christians become progressively more like Jesus Christ is called sanctification.
- Explain the difference between definitive and progressive sanctification.
- All Christians agree, God calls Christians to be sanctified. But precisely how sanctification happens has been a matter of discussion, debate, even disagreement among Christians for centuries.
- I have a book on my shelf entitled “Five Views of Sanctification.” Summarize the five views.
- This message in our series Life Together, underscores, highlights, puts in bold a few non-negotiable biblical principles that inform any healthy pursuit of sanctification and hence promote God-glorifying community, unity and fellowship in the local church.
An Illustration of Sanctification: A father helping his son learn to jump in the pool.
Main Theme: God’s ongoing activity in our lives should motivate us to diligently pursue Christian growth.
I. Our Role In Sanctification (v. 12)
- “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…”
- Salvation has come to us through Christ.
- By God’s grace, we’ve received the salvation Jesus came to provide.
- We experience that salvation in part now.
- Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, sin’s dominion/rule over our lives has been broken.
- When the Jesus returns, our salvation will be consummated.
- At that time we will receive our new glorified bodies and dwell in the New Heavens and New Earth.
- But until then, in this age, the Apostle calls us to work out our salvation. In other words, there is good work for us to do in this age. It is the good work of doing all we can to make our “salvation fruitful in the here and now (PT O’Brien).”
- It is the good work of putting to death sin, putting on righteousness and pursuing the fruits of the Spirit. In short, it is the good work of pursuing sanctification.
- Paul says work out your salvation – “with fear and trembling.”
- Well it doesn’t mean we’re to pursue godliness out of servile fear; as if our justification, our right standing with God is on the line. That’s not what Paul means at all. We are not justified by sanctification. At the moment we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we were justified, declared righteous in God’s sight once and for all.
- For the believer in Jesus Christ, our justified status never changes.
- What Paul means is that as we pursue sanctification, we should do so in reverent awe of God – as those aware of God’s presence in us, with us and among us.
II. God’s Role In Sanctification (v.13)
“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
- Here we see the basis, the foundation of Paul’s command to work out our salvation with fear and trembling is not our own strength, our own moral fortitude or our own willpower; rather, it is something entirely outside of us. It is the very power of God.
- God works in you Paul says – “both to will and to work.” Fee summarizes what Paul is getting at here when he says – “God empowers their doing and willing.”
- In sanctification, God works on us on two very specific levels – our will (or our desires) – and our actions.
- What gives us hope that we can obey God? God, by His Spirit, empowers both our willing and our doing.
III. A Few Common Pitfalls in Pursuing Sanctification
Pitfall #1: We can emphasize our role to the neglect of God’s role in sanctification.
Pitfall #2: We can emphasize God’s role in sanctification to the neglect of our role.
Pitfall #3: We can forget our identity in Christ.
Pitfall #4 We can forget the gospel.
Questions For Discussion / Application:
- Re-read the text, Philippians 2:11-12. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
- What does it mean to “work out your salvation” ?
- What does it mean to “work out your salvation, with fear and trembling“?
- How would you describe the believer’s role in sanctification?
- How would you describe God’s role sanctification?
- Consider going through each of the “piftfalls” in pursuing sanctification above answering the question “How can this be a pitfall? What can we do to avoid it?”
- Which of the four pitfalls when it comes to pursuing sanctification do you think you may have fallen into at one time or another? Explain.
- What is one area of your life where you are currently seeking to pursue sanctification?