I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Rom 6:19 ESV)
Just what is sanctification? In simple terms, it can be defined as: sanctification is the carrying on to perfection the work begun in regeneration. I think that we all need to understand sanctification, because eternal life comes after 3 steps:
Salvation lasts a very short time, then that step is over. Glorification does not happen until we die. In between, we must do as the apostle Paul says and be “slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”
I grew up in churches all across the U.S. The particular denomination I was in put a lot of emphasis on salvation. That is a good thing. The bad thing was that they did little teaching on the process of sanctification. My wife grew up in the same denomination. She also attended several churches across the nation. She told me the same things had been taught at her churches.
Consequently, I grew up with a skewed belief system. I believed that Jesus died for my sins. So far, so good. I believed I had to ask Him into my heart to forgive my sins. All right, we’re still okay, but here’s where things get messed up. I believed that every time I sinned, Jesus left my heart, and I had to go back to the beginning and start all over again. Basically, from the time you asked Christ into your heart, you had to be perfect, and anytime you strayed, you had to go back to the cross and give your life the Him all over again. The hope was that we wouldn’t commit a sin, then get hit by a car! For years I was worried about always having time to ensure that I was completely sinless when my focus should have been on living righteously, leading up to a “sinless life” when I was glorified.
At one point, we made a decision to leave our denomination and attend non-denominational churches. I had to unlearn many things, and start learning the truth. The church we started attending put a lot of emphasis on sanctification, with quite a bit less on salvation. There was some salvation, just not much. It left me wondering how people were supposed to get sanctified if they weren’t saved?
What we need more of is a delicate balance between the message of salvation and the teachings of sanctification.
The great commission given in Matthew tells us to go and make disciples, which speaks of sanctification. In Mark, it says to preach the good news, and that those who believe will be saved. That is salvation. We need both.
These are my ideas and beliefs from attending church, talking with other Christians, and, of course, reading the Bible. If you have other ideas or beliefs, or if you agree with mine, please leave a comment.