Chapter 13, Of, Sanctification

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1.  They who are united to Christ, Effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new Spirit created in them, through the virtue of Christ’s death and Resurrection; are also further sanctified, really, and personally, through the same virtue, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof, are more and more weakened, and mortified; and they more and more quickened, and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. (Acts 20:32; Romans 6:5, 6; John 17:17; Ephesians 3:16-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23; Romans 6:14; Galatians 5:24; Colossians 1:11; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14)

So far in the Confession we have looked at the actions of God in the ordo salutis: effectual calling (10), justification (11), adoption (12), and now sanctification (13). The Confession begins chapter 13, Of Sanctification, with these words: They who are united to Christ. The doctrine of union with Christ is crucial to the Christian life. It undergirds the whole order of salvation, and is highly pertinent to the doctrine of sanctification. Jesus spoke of our union with him: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV; see also John 17:2-23). Paul spoke of our union with Christ in the oft used phrase “in Christ.” And, further Paul said: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom. 6:5 ESV; see 6:2-10). John Owen states, union with Christ is “the greatest, most honorable and glorious graces that we are made partakers of.”[2] Puritan Thomas Goodwin states: “being in Christ and united to him, is the fundamental constitution of the Christian.”[3] Our union with Christ is a fundamental doctrine in the New Testament.

Our union in Christ can be broadly understood in a three-fold manner: 1) Union in Christ ideally realized in the eternal decree of election and the eternal covenant of redemption; 2) Union with Christ objectively realized in history by virtue of Christ’s meritorious work, and 3) Union with Christ subjectively applied by the Spirit of Christ, and received by faith in a mystical union.[4]

First, union with Christ is ideally realized by the Father’s eternal decree of election in Christ. By ideal, we mean “conceptually” or “in God’s mind and plan.” Thus by the very action of the Father electing us “in Christ,” we are united to Christ in the very decree of election. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:3-4a ESV). In addition, since the Father elected us in Christ, election is inextricably linked with the covenant of redemption, that is, the Son’s agreement with the Father to redeem the elect by becoming their representative and federal head in his life, death and resurrection as their substitute. Louis Berkhof explains it this way:

In the case of the first Adam there was not only a federal, but also a natural and organic union between him and his descendants. There was the tie of a common life between him and all his progeny, and this made it possible that the blessings of the covenant of works, if they had been eventuated, could have been passed onto the whole organism of mankind in an organic way. A somewhat similar situation obtained in the case of the last Adam. He did not represent a conglomeration of disjointed individuals, but a body of men and women who were to derive their life from Him, to be united by spiritual ties, and thus to form a spiritual organism. Ideally this body, which is the Church, was already formed in the covenant of redemption, and formed in union with Christ, and this union made it possible that all the blessings merited by Christ could be passed onto those whom He represented in an organic way. They were conceived of as a glorious body, a new humanity, sharing the life of Jesus Christ. It was in virtue of that union, as it was realized in the course of history, that Christ could say, ‘Behold, I and the children whom God hath given me,’ Heb. 2:13.”[5]

Secondly, the union became objectively realized by his death, resurrection, and ascension. We were spiritually and by his representation of us in Christ when he died, rose, and ascended the right hand of the Father. Since Christ was our representative we were in him as he accomplished redemption. As such, the elect so united to him were set free from their union with Adam—a union that brought all humanity under the reign of sin.  But now the elect are united to Christ under the reign of grace (Rm. 5:12-21). Thus by the eternal ideal union with Christ in eternity, they become in time objectively united to Christ in his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. However, this ideal and objective union is not yet an applied union. Murray states: “We do not become actual partakers of Christ until redemption is effectively applied.”[6]

This moves us to that third aspect: the subjective application of our union to Christ.   You may recall from chapter 8, Of Christ the Mediator, paragraph 8: “To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same… uniting them to himself by his Spirit.   Thus by Christ’s objective purchase of redemption in history, Christ will with certainty and in actuality unite himself to each elect person in time. The Confession shows us in chapter 13:1, the basis our union with Christ to be founded on the objective historical work of Christ when it states that they who are united to Christ are so through the virtue of Christ’s death and Resurrection. In an effort to take the Confession phrase by phrase, we are skipping for a moment the phrase and clause “Effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new Spirit created in them.” Our ideal, objective, and subjective union all rest on the work of Christ on behalf of the elect.

By subjective, we mean ‘personal’ or ‘individual’ realization. The ideal union is conceptual; the objective union is obtained by Christ’s purchase of redemption; and the subjective union is applied when the Spirit bonds us to Christ spiritually. Murray states: “the bond of our union is the Holy Spirit himself.”[8] It is by the Spirit that this union becomes personal—not merely conceptual or objective. This subjective or personal union with Christ is sometimes referred to as a mystical union.[9]  Our union with Christ is applied by the Spirit at the same time he regenerates us, although union with Christ logically precedes it. In the book, Puritan Theology, we read: “In response [to regeneration], the sinner exercises faith, as an effect of regeneration. With the union complete, the sinner receives from Christ everything that Christ merited, including justification, adoption, and sanctification.”[10] And so, union with Christ is not merely an aspect of the order of salvation, but it is prior to it, undergirds, and encompasses it.

Union with Christ is connected with sanctification in two senses: 1) Those who are united to Christ are set apart by God as his own consecrated people—sometimes referred to as definite sanctification. 2) Those united to Christ are also further sanctified, really, and personally. In other words, those united to Christ are not merely objectively or definitively sanctified, but also progressively (more and more) sanctified: really and personally (that is, made actually holy in practice). But how does union with Christ lead to progressive sanctification? Scripture states: “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph. 1:4 ESV). Their election in Christ was that they would be holy and blameless; therefore, they can be certain that God will carry out his purpose for those united to Christ. As well, in Romans chapter 6:2-10 Paul tells us that those united to Christ died a death like his, were buried like him, and were raised like him. They were of course not physically with him in his death, burial, and resurrection, but spiritually; that is why Paul said their death, burial and resurrection was “like” his. As a result of having died, having been buried, and having been raised like Christ, they are thus free from the reign of sin under Adam, and now united to Christ (under his reign of grace) are enabled to practically defeat sin progressively in their body of sin—that last remaining hold out where sin still battles against them. (Rm. 6:6; 7:22-25). [11]  In other words, because of their union with Christ positionally, they “are also practically “further sanctified, really and personally.” It will not be possible to fully reign over sin perfectly in practice while we remain in our body of sin; for that we await our final consummate union with Christ in glory.

As we leave behind the topic of union with Christ—which the Confession intentionally links to the topic of sanctification—let’s reflect on the fact that our union with Christ is a remarkable grace. John Murray states: “As far back as we can go in tracing salvation to its fountain we find ‘union with Christ’; it is not something tacked on; it is there from the outset.”[12] This is a union most radical, and of inestimable comfort and strength to God’s people. Murray also states: “Apart from union with Christ we cannot view past, present, or future with anything but dismay and Christless dread. By union with Christ the whole complexion of time and eternity is changed and the people may rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”[13] There is a mystery to our union with Christ—a certain intangibility to it. Ultimately, it is a truth grasped only by the revelation of Scripture—a reality we understand only by faith. But it warrants our fullest attention, and ought to be reflected upon often. All the benefits of our salvation flow from this fount of blessing in Christ, including our progress in sanctification, and our eventual consummation in glory when sanctification will be entire and perfectly complete. Then, we shall be not only be forever in Christ, but also forever with him.

Those who are…effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new Spirit[14] created in them, through the virtue of Christ’s death and Resurrection; as with our union with Christ so also effectual calling and regeneration are through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection. To say it in reverse, Christ’s purchase of redemption (his death and resurrection) is applied to the elect by effectual calling and regeneration. In other words, effectual calling and regeneration of the elect come about because of Christ’s death and resurrection. The result of effectual calling and particularly regeneration is a new heart and a new spirit created in them.

Those effectually called and regenerated with new hearts and spirits are also further sanctified, really, and personally. We have already discussed the meaning of this section in relation to being united to Christ. The same meaning is, of course, applicable here in terms of its reference to progressive sanctification. The Confession shows us that the ultimate cause of this further sanctification is through the same virtue, that is, “Christ’s death and resurrection” mentioned prior. But while that is the ultimate cause, the proximate cause of their “further sanctification” is the new heart and spirit created in them, which desires to please God. This new nature, then, pursues “the holiness” or “the sanctification” mentioned in Hebrew 12:14. Paul states: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Rom. 6:22 ESV). The Confession adds to the virtue of Christ’s death: by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them. A.A. Hodge helpfully guides us here: “God, having implanted in regeneration a new spiritual nature in the subject of his grace, always continues to foster and develop that principle, by the indwelling of his Word and Spirit, until it attains full perfection.”[15]   Just as the means of effectual calling is by the ministry of the Word and Spirit (10.1), so also by the same ministry of the Word and Spirit we continue to grow in sanctification. Jesus said: “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty” (Matthew 13:23 ESV). Paul said to the elders he left at Ephesus: “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32 ESV).

By all these things: union with Christ, effectual calling, regeneration (with the new nature), God’s Word and Spirit indwelling in the elect, the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed. This phrase is from Romans 6:6: “that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (KJV). The body of sin refers to that remaining realm of sin which still affects us, and to this remaining area the efforts of sanctification are aimed so that sin may be destroyed. So also by union with Christ, effectual calling, regeneration (with the new nature), God’s Word and Spirit dwelling in the elect, the several lusts thereof, are more and more weakened, and mortified; and they more and more quickened, and strengthened in all saving graces. The several lusts “thereof,” points back to “the body of sin.” This is where the lusts manifest themselves: in that realm of the body where the remaining corruption fights against us. We are not to understand that sin is materially present in our material body, in a kind of Gnosticism which view the body as innately evil, but rather that our remaining corruption is fought in the realm of our body, for our body is where the battle of sin is fought. These lusts are more and more weakened. In other words, their intensity and frequency and power become weaker and are put to death (i.e. mortified). The words “and they” after the word “mortified”—following the semi-colon, do not refer back to the word “lusts,” but to the first word in this paragraph “they.” It is not only that the desires of the flesh or the “lusts” are weakened and mortified, but the elect (they) are more and more quickened and strengthened. In what are they quickened and strengthened? They are quickened and strengthened “in all saving graces.” These are the graces that bring about further sanctification. Why are they called “saving?” It is because God not only saves us from sin in justification, but from sin by sanctification; thus saving us from the remaining corruption of sin which remains in us (13:2-3). These graces God gives us, union with Christ, effectual calling, regeneration, and the Word and the Spirit, ensure that sanctification progresses (13:3).

The Confession indicates the fruit of these saving graces: to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. These graces lead to the practice of all true holiness. Notice the action these graces lead to: the practice of holiness; and notice the character of the holiness: all true holiness. And as if to clarify what “all true holiness” means the Confession states it is the kind of holiness “without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14 KJV). That rules out man-made standards of so-called holiness: “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings” (Col. 2:21-22 ESV). Those who consider themselves to be united Christ cannot expect that they are truly united to him or that will see the Lord if they do not practice all true holiness or sanctification. Jesus said: “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21 (ESV). The Confession is not, of course, speaking of perfectionism in our practice of true holiness or sanctification, as will be clarified in the next paragraph. At the root of the practice of true holiness lies the work of God himself uniting his people to himself, effectually calling them, and regenerating them. If the practice is not there, that is, the fruit of that work of God, it may be that the root of God’s work is not there either.

The practice of all true holiness flows out of the graces God gives us, and thus we do not pursue holiness or sanctification in our own strength, however, the practice is ours; we must do it. God does not practice holiness for us. We must engage with God and his means and practice holiness. Scripture has no shortage of statements in regard to our action of pursuing sanctification. For example, Paul exhorted: “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1 ESV). And, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12 KJV). Or, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates” (Rev. 22:14 ESV). We could go on and on with such passages that tell us to practice true holiness.

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  1. This Sanctification is throughout, in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual, and irreconcilable war; the Flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the Flesh.  (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 7:18, 23; Galatians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:11)

The Confession declares that this sanctification is throughout, the whole man. We learned in chapter 6:2 of the Confession that by Adam’s sin man became “wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.” But in Christ, sanctification reverses these effects throughout the whole man. Paul said: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24 ESV). Sanctification in is consummation will ultimately undo total depravity in glory, but as the Confession adds, this whole-man sanctification is yet imperfect in this life. If we lose sight of this truth, we may become vulnerable to all kinds imbalanced views of sanctification, and there is no shortage. The Confession states that this sanctification is imperfect because there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part. Our defilement is so deep and so extensive that even in those regenerated there remains some corruption found in every part of the redeemed this side of glory. Even the apostle Paul said of himself: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Rom. 7:18 ESV).

From the remaining corruption whence ariseth a continual, and irreconcilable war. Paul continues in Romans 7: “But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my member” (Rom. 7:23 ESV). Thus we understand from Scripture that this war is continual as long as their remains in us some corruption. There will be no full and final relief from this war until we find ourselves in glory, and are made perfect in holiness (31:1). As the hymn says:

  •  “Christians seek not thy repose; Cast thy dreams of ease away.
  • Thou art in the midst of foes: watch and pray.”[16]

The battle consists of the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. This is nearly an exact citation from Galatians: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17 KJV). The English Standard Version states in modern English: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Thus we find ourselves in an ongoing battle against sin. Peter wrote: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11 ESV).

Those who have come out of the churches which teach perfectionism know that the Confession is not merely making an obvious point by stating that sanctification is not perfect in this life, but is actually confronting a false doctrine called perfectionism. Perfectionism is that belief that God graciously acts to give the Christian a second experience subsequent to conversion, which frees the believer entirely from original sin in this life, thus making “entire sanctification” possible, that is, if they appropriately nurture this grace which may be lost.[17] To seek this experience of grace is to embrace a grace which is not offered, and despite the claims of well-meaning Christians who claim to have experienced “entire sanctification,” the corresponding reality is simply absent in their life. The promise of perfectionism becomes an allusive pursuit of that proverbial “pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow.” Unfortunately, perfectionism can lead to self-righteous pride, or the sensitive conscience into self-condemnation as he or she still observes sin in their life.[18] R.C. Sproul says of the doctrine of perfectionism: “We want the future promise now.  The doctrine of perfectionism is a premature grasping for the eschatological gift.  That does not mean that we should not want to be as sanctified as we can be.  But be warned about people who promise a transcendent dimension of sanctification and holiness in three easy lessons.  It does not work like that; it is a life-long battle.  It takes determination to lay hold of the riches of God’s grace.  It takes diligent discipline, devotion to prayer, and a serious reading of Scripture.  Nobody gets sanctified with five minutes of Bible reading a day.”[19]  As we continue on to the next paragraph, we will discover the Confession does not take a defeatist approach to sanctification, merely because it denies perfectionism in this life.

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  1. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail; yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ the regenerate part doth overcome; and so the Saints grow in Grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after an heavenly life, in Evangelical Obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word hath prescribed to them. (Romans 7:23; Romans 6:14; Ephesians 4:15, 16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1)

The Confession continues in this paragraph to speak of this war: In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail; yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ the regenerate part doth overcome. Even though the war wages between the desires of the flesh and Spirit, and the remaining corruption at times seems to get the upper hand in our lives, yet those who are united to Christ, effectually called and regenerated (13:1) will overcome. We will overcome by the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, which causes the regenerate nature to overcome the remaining corruption in our nature. It is not an admission of defeat to say the battle against sin rages our entire life, because ultimately the Spirit causes our regenerate nature to overcome—though not perfectly. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17-18 ESV).

The Confession describes what it looks like when the regenerate part overcomes. And so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after an heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word hath prescribed to them. To grow in grace means to gain more grace (i.e. gain the supplies) which are given to us by the Spirit (“all saving graces” 13:1). The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-24 is an example of the fruit of those graces. We grow in holiness by these graces. Scripture states: “We are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ(Eph. 4:15a ESV). Perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord, means that our holiness becomes more complete (not perfect, per se, but we become more holy in a practical way). The Confession reflects the Scripture here: “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1 ESV). Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit transforms us to be more and more like Christ: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18 ESV). By the power of the Spirit, the regenerate is pressing after a heavenly life. That is, we are to actively seeking the things above where Christ is. Since we are united to Christ, and that is where Christ is, so also positionally that is where we are; therefore, by our union with Christ our citizenship is in heaven with him. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1 ESV). Or, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 ESV). Or, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14 ESV). We do this in evangelical obedience, meaning obedience to all the commands of Christ, since he is our Head and King. The commands of Christ are written in his Word where they are prescribed (set forth) for us to obey.

God has united us to Christ, effectually called us and regenerating us, and thus we are positionally or definitely sanctified in Christ, but in addition to that we are further or progressively sanctified, really and personally, throughout the whole man; that which God has begun in us, he will complete (Phil 1:6). But while this will produce in us the practice of holiness, we will not perfectly practice holiness in this life because of remaining corruption in us. This remaining corruption brings about a continual and perpetual war against sin, which will not stop until we arrive in glory. However, the regenerate part of us will grow in grace, and will press after a heavenly life—a life lived according to Christ’s commands which are found in Scripture. Thus practical sanctification will be progressive in this life, but it will not be without conflicts with sin and setbacks. Progress for many of us may be compared to the slow progress of “two steps forward and one back,” but over the long haul there will be progress. Thus the Confession describes the act of sanctification, the progress of sanctification—its territory and limitations in this life—and what that progress will look like in our lives.

——————————————————–

[2] John Owen, Epistle to the Hebrews, in Works, 20:148. Cited from Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, Puritan Theology, Kindle Edition (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), Loc. 18477.

[3] Thomas Goodwin, Of Christ the Mediator, in The Works of Thomas Goodwin, ed. Thomas Smith (1861-1866; repr., Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), 5:350. Cited from Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, Puritan Theology, Kindle Edition (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), Loc. 5422.

[4] The categories: ideal, objective, and subjective, are borrowed from Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Containing the full text of Systematic theology (1932) and the original Introductory volume to systematic theology (1938), and new preface by Richard a. Muller (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 1996), 447-53.

[5] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Containing the full text of Systematic theology (1932) and the original Introductory volume to systematic theology (1938), and new preface by Richard a. Muller (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 1996), 448.

[6] John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1955), 165.

[7] The Savoy Declaration deliberately relocated the phrase “by virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection” found originally in the Westminster Confession after: “further sanctification, really and personally.”   By relocating it the Savoy made it clear that “those who are united to Christ, effectual calling and regenerated” are so specifically “by virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection.” But they also left the phrase in condensed form where the Westminster Confession originally placed it: “are also further sanctified, really and personally, by the same virtue.” In addition, the Westminster Confession did not open the chapter with the topic of sanctification with the union with Christ, but effectual calling and regeneration; thus the Savoy also improved the coverage of sanctification by adding that important doctrine. The 1689 Confession followed the 1658 Savoy Declaration in this revision.

[8] John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1955), 166.

[9] John Murray states: “Union with Christ is mystical because it is a mystery. The fact that it is a mystery underlines the preciousness [high value] of it and the intimacy of the relation it entails.” John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1955), 167. Brackets mine.

[10] Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, Puritan Theology, Kindle Edition (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), Loc. 18617 (brackets mine).

[11] Martin Lloyd Jones brilliantly explains this in Romans 6 in his series through Romans consisting of 366 lessons, recorded and available here at no cost: http://www.mljtrust.org/collections/book-of-romans/6/.

[12] John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1955), 162.

[13] John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1955), 165.

[14] This one of those times where the original 1689 Confession puts a word in upper case (‘Spirit’) and the significance is uncertain. The wording is from Ezekiel 36:26, and even in the KJV ‘spirit’ it is not in upper case, as if to refer to the Spirit of God.

[15] A.A. Hodge, The Westminster Confession: A Commentary (1869; reprinted, Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), 195.

[16] Trinity Hymnal (Philadelphia: Great Commissions Publishing, 1961), Hymn 471.

[17] The author was raised in the Church of the Nazarene—my grandfather being a Nazarene pastor in that church. The Church of the Nazarene articles state: “We believe that entire sanctification is that act of God, subsequent to regeneration, by which believers are made free from original sin, or depravity, and brought into a state of entire devotement to God, and the holy obedience of love made perfect.” The Church of the Nazarene, Article 10.

[18] Sproul states: “Luther said that the justified person is a sinner who is truly justified. He now possesses the righteousness of Christ, though he remains a sinner. Luther gave the illustration of a man who has been raised from the dead, but is still weak, still mortal, and remains so until the resurrection. Similarly, God will not make the justified sinner completely holy until the resurrection. Until then, he must undergo the lifelong process of sanctification, by which he is being conformed to the image of Christ. I stress this because the church has been assaulted in every generation by the heresy of perfectionism. It has appeared in different guises. When I lived in Holland, I met an American exchange student. He was seventeen years old and belonged to a church that taught the doctrine of perfectionism. They taught that there was a second work of grace (beyond the work of regeneration)) by which the Holy Spirit perfects and completely sanctifies a person immediately. This student was convinced that he had the second work of grace, and that he was a sinless believer in Christ. As I tried to show him that this was not the biblical doctrine of sanctification, I cited chapter 7 of Romans, where the apostle Paul speaks of his horrible struggle: “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice….O wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:19, 24). I asked this young fellow, “Do you think that right now, at age seventeen, you, as a young Christian, have achieved a higher state of holiness and sanctification than the apostle Paul had when he wrote to the Romans?” He did not blink an eye. He looked at me and said, ‘Yes.’” R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess: A Layman’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, vol. II, Salvation and the Christian Life (Phillipsburg, Nj.: P & R Publishing, 2007), 79-80.

[19] R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess: A Layman’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, vol. II, Salvation and the Christian Life (Phillipsburg, Nj.: P & R Publishing, 2007), 83.

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