God loved us so much (John 3:16) that He sent His son to die for our sins. This is salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 explains that, “God, reconciled us to Himself through Christ … God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them… God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
We respond to God’s love by loving Him and living for Him. This is sanctification and service. 2 Corinthians 5:15, “And He (Yeshua/Jesus) died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
Too many Christians believe that Christ died for them to give them eternal life in the future (true) and a life of ease in the present (false). While God provides and cares for His people (Philippians 4:19), He does permit suffering and struggles so that we learn to depend on Him alone (Philippians 4:11-13).
How do we live for Christ? By performing acts in keeping with repentance, (see earlier columns on this subject) and pursuing sanctification.
What is sanctification? It is the process of becoming more like Yeshua. Romans 8:29 tell us that God wants us, “to become conformed to the image of His Son.” We are conformed to His image by being obedient to God’s commandments (John 14:15) and by imitating the behavior of Yeshua (Ephesians 5:1, 1 Corinthians 11:1).
We are incapable of making atonement for our sins, so Yeshua died for us. Similarly, in our flesh we are incapable of achieving sanctification. Once again, God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. God draws us to Yeshua and awakened us to our need for salvation (John 6:44). He kindles in us the faith we need to accept what Yeshua provided for us by His Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Similarly God enables us to pursue sanctification, “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 22:13).
Paul prayed for believers as they pursued sanctification, “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely… Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).The writer of Hebrews similarly prayed, “may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus…equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight” (13:20-21).
The truth of God’s Grace is that He understands our frailty and sinfulness. Therefore, He always does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Salvation (Acts 4:12) and sanctification are required for us to be in relationship with God, “sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Yeshua died and was resurrected for our salvation (1 John 4:10). Now we see that God works with us to create the sanctification He desired and requires.