The One Anothers - Grace and Sanctification
[this is the fourth of several articles in the One Another series]
I have been writing lately on the one anothers of Christian fellowship. By my count we have at least thirty-five direct commands pertaining to how we treat one another within the body of Christ. And as we've seen, it's a tall order. A list that not one of us obeys successfully even for one whole day. And this brings me to say something critical that we must never forget. And that is, that we don't obey these commands in order to gain anything in our standing before God – that is already settled by grace and grace alone. Your justification, your right-ness before God doesn't ebb and flow one bit based on your obedience. That is becaue your justification sits firmly fixed in the heavens with your saviour – where he sits, reigning on his throne, having finished your salvation totally and completely.
But this might lead us to ask, "if it is all finished, then why do I have to obey at all?" This question makes sense only if one hasn't grasped what salvation is all about. God saves us to restore what was lost, namely to bring us back into fellowship with him. From first to last, our justification, sanctification, and glorification, is all a piece of this same great endeavour – to redeem us from sin and restore us to God.
Paul argues this way in Romans:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2).
It is not fitting for the one who has been saved from sin to continue living in it. It makes no sense! So, to put it simply, why should you pursue obedience to the one another commands? Because God has saved you and you want him to save you some more! You have been forgiven for all your past sins, and now you are striving with all your might, in the strength that God supplies (1 Peter 4:11), to overcome every present sin and temptation. Obedience to God is the heart's delight for the redeemed. This is the purpose of our salvation. As Paul says in Ephesians: "he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him" (Ephesians 1:4).
So as we work hard to grow in our obedience, never lose sight of the grace of Christ. It is by grace that we are saved, and it is by grace that we are being sanctified. We don't want to be like the Galatians who fell from grace. As Paul chides them, "you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace." (Galatians 5:4). They began in the Spirit but tried to finish in the flesh (Galatians 3:3). This is not the way.
You see, our sanctification is more of a "get to" then a "got to". For the believer there is not one thing he can do to make the Lord love him more or less. Like I already said, that righteousness is firmly fixed in the heavens at the right hand of God. No good day, no bad day, changes the love that our Father has for us in Christ. It is fixed. It is finished. And it is out of that unshakeable peace that we can live out the Christian life with strength. We are not paying God back with our sanctification. Far from it! We are actually going deeper and deeper into his debt. With every victory over sin, we are receiving more of his grace. With every act of sacrificial love, true humility, or unity, we are bearing fruit from him. You are doing it, you are living it out; but "it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
So let us continue to serve the Lord. Let us be holy. Let us be sanctified more and more. Let us obey all of the one anothers. And let us serve "as one[s] who serve by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:11).
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