Sanctification is a vital concept for us to understand and embrace. You see, our Christian walk doesn’t end at the moment we give our lives to Christ. That’s just the beginning. I had a mentor up in Atlanta who used to say: the Christian faith isn’t hard. It’s impossible. It’s impossible, that is, if you’re trying to live it out on your own…in your own power. Beloved, the perfect recipe to burning out as a Christian is to try to go it alone…in your own strength.
Instead, just as we’re justified (or saved) by grace through faith in Christ…we’re also “sanctified” (or made holy…or Christlike) by grace through faith in Christ. He is our power. In fact, in John 15, Jesus says this…
John 15:4-5 – Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Christ is the vine. His life-giving power has to flow from him into us…just as the life-giving, life-preserving nutrients of a vine have to flow into its branches or else the branches will die. Those life-giving nutrients of the vine flow into and through the branches… which enable the branches to bear fruit.
Well, just like those branches…God wants you to bear fruit. And not just fruit but good fruit. And not just good fruit but much good fruit. And not just much good fruit…but much good fruit that will last.
John 15:7-8 –  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Jesus tells us that there are two reasons he wants us to bear this fruit. First, because it glorifies God, and second, because it shows the world that we’re his disciples.
But bearing fruit for the long haul is hard. Our journey, like a knight’s, is filled with winding roads, peaks, valleys and all sorts of obstacles. Many of you have heard me say many times that my favorite book, after the Bible, is The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. It’s a great allegory of a man who really experiences the trials and temptations of the Christian life as he heads toward the Celestial City. It tells of the man before he came to know Christ… hearing the gospel for the first time and through various experiences (prevenient grace). He then lays his burdens at the foot of the cross and gives his life to Christ (justifying grace).
But what really struck me the first time I read the book was that those first two parts of the book make up only a very small part of the man’s journey. Most of the book is dedicated to what we would call sanctification – that idea of walking with Christ and for Christ throughout the rest of our lives… until we too reach the Celestial City.
It’s interesting how often the Bible uses the imagery of “walking” to describe what it means to carry on a
close relationship with the Lord. For example…
I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea. Those verses give us the marching orders to “walk the walk,” and not just “talk the talk,” if ever I’ve heard it.
But how do we “walk the walk.” I’ve already said that the road is hard. I’ve already said that we can’t do it on our own. Well, that’s what sanctifying grace is all about. A few minutes ago we heard Jesus say that he was the vine and that we’re the branches. We also learned that we need to have his power flowing in and through us if we’re going to bear good fruit for him. Right? Well… what does that look like in practice? In other words, what does God’s sanctifying grace look like in our daily lives?
Next time we’ll take a look at how we grow in grace through the process of progressive sanctification.
Grace and Truth,