The Sanctifying Church

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The sixth mark of a healthy church is a church filled with people who are being conformed more and more into the image of the Son (Jesus).

1 John(5), Acts(12), John(82), Romans(5) (Part of the 8 Marks Of The Church(8) series)
by Stuart Johns(184) on March 6, 2022 (Sunday Morning(259))

Holiness(12), Sanctification(1)

8 Marks Of The Church

The Sanctifying Church

 

INTRODUCTION

Urban Legends

 

“It’s one of Hollywood’s favorite bits of pseudoscience: human beings use only 10 percent of their brain, and awakening the remaining 90 percent—supposedly dormant—allows otherwise ordinary human beings to display extraordinary mental abilities. In Phenomenon (1996), John Travolta gains the ability to predict earthquakes and instantly learns foreign languages. Scarlett Johansson becomes a super powered martial-arts master in Lucy (2014). And in Limitless (2011) Bradley Cooper writes a novel overnight.

 

This ready-made blueprint for fantasy films is also a favorite among the general public. In a survey, 65 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, ‘People only use 10 percent of their brain on a daily basis.’ But the truth is that we use all of our brain all of the time.

 

How do we know? For one thing, if we needed only 10 percent of our brain, the majority of brain injuries would have no discernible consequences, since the damage would affect parts of the brain that weren’t doing anything to begin with. We also know that natural selection discourages the development of useless anatomical structures: early humans who devoted scarce physical resources to growing and maintaining huge amounts of excess brain tissue would have been outcompeted by those who spent those precious resources on things more necessary for survival and reproductive success. Tougher immune systems, stronger muscles, better looking hair—just about anything would be more useful than having a head full of inert tissue.

 

We’ve been able to back up these logical conclusions with hard evidence. Imaging techniques, such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), allow doctors and scientists to map brain activity in real time. The data clearly shows that large areas of the brain—far more than 10 percent—are used for all sorts of activity, from seemingly simple tasks like resting or looking at pictures to more complex ones like reading or doing math. Scientists have yet to find an area of the brain that doesn’t do anything.

 

So how did we come to believe that 90 percent of our brain is useless? The myth is often incorrectly attributed to 19th-century psychologist William James, who proposed that most of our mental potential goes untapped. But he never specified a percentage. Albert Einstein—a magnet for misattribution of quotes—has also been held responsible. In reality, the concept most likely came from the American self-help industry. One of the earliest mentions appears in the preface to Dale Carnegie’s 1936 mega best seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People. The idea that we have harnessed only a fraction of our brain’s full potential has been a staple for motivational gurus, New Age hucksters, and uninspired screenwriters ever since.

 

Obviously, this is bad news for anyone hoping to find the secret to becoming a genius overnight. The good news, though, is that hard work still works. There is plenty of reason to believe that you can build brainpower by regularly working at challenging mental tasks, such as playing a musical instrument, doing arithmetic, or reading a novel.”

 

[https://www.britannica.com/story/do-we-really-use-only-10-percent-of-our-brain]

 

I like to play Sudoku and June’s Journey (it is a game where you have to find various objects in a scene. ​​ My favorite video game of all times is Portal, which is a thinking game. ​​ All of those games help to keep my mind sharp. ​​ I hope that I am using more than 10% of my brain when I’m playing those games.

 

There are many common myths about the church that are misguided at best and dangerous at worst

 

BODY

  • Myth

    • You can emphasize personal holiness as much as you want and be a healthy church

    • This myth, if believed, can be dangerous because:

        • It can give someone a false sense of security that they can be truly united together with Jesus without looking increasingly like Him

        • It dilutes and pollutes the church, which God intended to be potent and pure

    • We know this is a myth because Jesus said a clear mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with people who are being conformed more and more into the image of the Son

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD

    • MARK: ​​ The Sanctifying Church

        • The Sanctifying Church and the Teaching of Jesus (John 17:13-19)

          • Background

            • John 17:1-26 has historically been entitled, The High Priestly Prayer

            • Jesus is praying for Himself (17:1-5), His disciples (17:6-19), and for future believers (17:20-26)

            • In the middle of His prayer for the disciples we see His teaching on sanctification and the means by which His disciples and future believers can continue the process of sanctification

          • Means of sanctification

            • Jesus is expressing to the Father that He is coming to Him now

            • He is praying out loud for the benefit of His disciples, so they can have the full measure of His joy within them

            • He gave the disciples God’s Word

              • This brought about hatred by the world

              • Jesus was not asking the Father to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the evil one

              • Paul reminds the Ephesian believers that our struggle is not with human beings, but rather it is against the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12)

              • Jesus was not praying for isolation, but infiltration

            • Jesus was praying that His disciples would be sanctified in the world

              • We see, that sanctification comes by the truth

              • God’s Word is the truth!!!

              • The Greek word for sanctification means “set apart for sacred use, cleansed and made holy” [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for John 17:17]

              • Our theme last year was “pursuing holiness”

                • The Spiritual Life Journal focused on various commitments: ​​ holiness in prayer, the Word, service, giving, relationships, the Gospel, and worship

                • The commitments under the heading “Holiness in the Word” were, to read through the Bible with my Idaville Church family in 2021 and memorize one verse a month with my Idaville Church family in 2021

              • “A follower of Christ becomes sanctified (set apart for sacred use, cleansed and made holy) through believing and obeying the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). ​​ He or she has already accepted forgiveness through Christ’s sacrificial death (Hebrews 7:26, 27). ​​ But daily application of God’s Word has a purifying effect on our minds and hearts. ​​ Scripture points out sin, motivates us to confess, renews our relationship with Christ, and guides us back to the right path.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for John 17:17]

              • Hebrews 4:12, For the word of God is living and active. ​​ Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

              • “The Greek word for sanctify is hagiazo, which means ‘to set apart for God’s use.’ As Bruce points out:

                This involves their consecration for the task now entrusted to them; it involves further their inward purification and endowment with all the spiritual resources necessary for carrying out that task. This purification and endowment are the work of the Spirit, but here Jesus declares the instrument of that work to be ‘the truth’—the truth embodied in the Father’s ‘word’ which Jesus had given to the disciples as he himself had received it from the Father (vv. 8, 14). The very message which they are to proclaim in his name will exercise its sanctifying effect on them: that message is the continuation of his message, just as their mission in the world is the extension of his mission (Bruce, p. 334).”

                [Kenneth O. Gangel,
                John, ed. Max Anders, vol. 4 of Holman New Testament Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2000), 317.]

              • Bruce is talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ being proclaimed to all nations

              • It also includes teaching the nations to obey everything Jesus had commanded them from the Father (Matt. 28:20)

            • Jesus sanctified Himself, so that His followers could also be truly sanctified

          • “God’s truth has been given to us in three ‘editions’: His Word is truth (John 17:17); His Son is the truth (John 14:6); and His Spirit is the truth (1 John 5:6). We need all three if we are to experience true sanctification, a sanctification that touches every part of our inner person. With the mind, we learn God’s truth through the Word. With the heart, we love God’s truth, His Son. With the will, we yield to the Spirit and live God’s truth day by day. It takes all three for a balanced experience of sanctification.” ​​ [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Transformed, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 98.]

          • Jesus’ teaching helps us understand that sanctification comes from truth, which is found in God’s Word, the Bible

        • The Sanctifying Church and the Teaching of the Early Church (Acts 5:1-11)

          • Sin in the church

            • We know from this passage that lying was the sin that Ananias and Sapphira were judged on

              • They had lied to God

              • They had lied to God’s people

              • “George MacDonald wrote, ‘Half of the misery in the world comes from trying to look, instead of trying to be, what one is not.’” [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Dynamic, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 78.]

              • “They build the front just like St. Mark’s,
                Or like Westminster Abbey;
                And then, as if to cheat the Lord,
                They make the back parts shabby.” [Wiersbe, 78]

            • Realities

              • The property was theirs to do with what they wanted

              • They were not required to give all of the proceeds from the sale of the property to the church

              • But, they were required to be honest about their giving

              • If we look back at Acts 4, we better understand their desire to make it appear as though they had given the total amount of the sale of the property to the church

              • Acts 4:36-37, Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

              • Joseph was not the only one who had done this, for from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need (Acts 4:34-35)

              • My guess is that pride was also a contributing factor in Ananias and Sapphira’s deception

              • They wanted to be counted with those who were giving sacrificially to the church

            • The result of their deception was death

          • Sanctification in the church

            • Why was their lie judged so harshly?

              • First, the Lord was establishing His church through the disciples and He wanted it to be holy and sanctified

              • “This act was judged harshly because dishonesty, greed, and covetousness are destructive in a church, preventing the Holy Spirit from working effectively. ​​ All lying is bad, but when we lie to try to deceive God and his people about our relationship with him, we destroy our testimony about Christ.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Acts 5:3]

              • This was not the first time that the Lord judged harshly

                • “It is worth noting that the Lord judges sin severely at the beginning of a new period in salvation history. Just after the tabernacle was erected, God killed Nadab and Abihu for trying to present “false fire” to the Lord (Lev. 10). He also had Achan killed for disobeying orders after Israel had entered the Promised Land (Josh. 7). While God was certainly not responsible for their sins, He did use these judgments as warnings to the people, and even to us (1 Cor. 10:11–12).” [Wiersbe, 79]

                • When the Lord was establishing new things, He wanted them to be established correctly, with integrity and honesty

              • Paul shares warnings from Israel’s history with the Corinthian believers before he says, These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. ​​ So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Cor. 10:11-12)

              • We all have the capacity to deceive and lie, not only to other human beings, but also to the Lord

            • The result

              • After Ananias’ death we read, and great fear seized all who heard what had happened (Acts 5:5)

              • After Sapphira’s death Luke writes, great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events (Acts 5:11)

              • This was the correct response – reverence – to God’s righteous judgement on Ananias and Sapphira

              • The church needed to not only emphasize sanctification, but they needed to practice it

          • God takes sanctification and holiness seriously, and so should we

          • But what do the apostles have to say about sanctification?

        • The Sanctifying Church and the Teaching of the Apostles (Romans 8:28-30; 1 John 3:1-6)

          • Roman 8:28-30

            • The primary thought from these verses is, conforming to the likeness of his Son

            • Sanctification is just that, becoming more like Jesus in our attitudes, thoughts, speech, and behaviors

            • “God’s ultimate goal for us is to make us like Christ (1 John 3:2). ​​ As we become more and more like him, we discover our true selves, the persons we were created to be. ​​ How can we be conformed to Christ’s likeness? ​​ By reading and heeding the Word, by studying his life on earth through the Gospels, by being filled with his Spirit, and by doing his work in the world.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Romans 8:29]

            • Notice that the way to sanctification is again pointing us to God’s Word – it is where truth is found

            • But it also includes being filled with the Holy Spirit and doing His work in the world

          • 1 John 3:1-6

            • Wiersbe outlines vv. 1-3 very well [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Real, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 107.]

              • What we are – children of God (v. 1)

              • What we shall be – like Christ with a glorified body ready for heaven (v. 2)

              • What we should be – purified, holy, sanctified (v. 3)

            • “For a child of God to sin indicates that he does not understand or appreciate what Jesus did for him on the cross.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 108-109.]

            • “One of our resources, then, for living a more holy lifestyle is pondering and meditating upon who Jesus is, who we have become in him, and what our life is likely to be when we see him.” [Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, ed. Max Anders, vol. 11 of Holman New Testament Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 1999), 190.]

            • As followers of Jesus Christ, we still sin sometimes

              • What John is referring to is willful, continual, habitual sin

              • “An unbeliever who sins is a creature sinning against his Creator. A Christian who sins is a child sinning against his Father. The unbeliever sins against law; the believer sins against love.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 108]

              • We are not trying to deliberately disobey God, grieve the Holy Spirit, or take lightly Jesus’ sacrifice

              • We understand the importance of revering God

              • If we continue to sin, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, then we don’t truly understand or appreciate Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross [Wiersbe, 108-109]

            • Jesus came to take away our sin

              • The sacrificial system required a perfect lamb to be sacrificed in order to cover over their sins

              • Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)

              • His perfect sacrifice did not cover over our sins, but took them away

            • Abiding in Christ

              • The key to not sinning is found in “living in Christ”

              • “To abide in Christ means to be in fellowship with Him, to allow nothing to come between ourselves and Christ. . . . It is this communion (abiding) with Christ that keeps us from deliberately disobeying His Word.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 110]

              • “Biblical terminology does not say that a Christian has two different natures. He has but one nature, the new nature in Christ. The old self dies and the new self lives; they do not coexist … The Christian is a single new person, a totally new creation, not a spiritual schizophrenic. It is the filthy coat of remaining humanness in which the new creation dwells that continues to hinder and contaminate his living. He is no longer the old man corrupted, but is now the new man created in righteousness and holiness, awaiting full salvation (Rom. 13:11) when he dies and is given a new body (p. 164).” ​​ [John MacArthur cited by Anders, 192-193]

          • The Apostles want us to understand that becoming more like Jesus takes reading and heeding God’s Word, being filled with the Holy Spirit, pondering and meditating on who Jesus is and who we have become in Him, and abiding in Christ.

        • We not only see this mark proclaimed to us through teaching, but also through a picture

    • METAPHOR: ​​ A Holy Nation (1 Peter 2:9-12)

        • Who we are, in Christ

          • Chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, God’s own possession, people of God, recipients of God’s mercy

          • The holy nation represents a nation that is pursuing sanctification

          • The reason is so we can proclaim the excellencies of God

        • Who we used to be, prior to Christ

          • Not a people

          • Not recipients of God’s mercy

        • What we should do as a result of following Christ

          • Negative

            • Abstain from fleshly lusts

            • “Sinful desires” is best understood as “strong desires motivated by selfishness.” ​​ [Anders, 1999]

          • Positive

            • Keep your behavior excellent/live such good lives/practice good deeds

            • Accusations [Anders, 1999]

              • Christians were accused of being disloyal to Caesar

              • They were accused of hurting local businesses, because they spoke against idol worship

              • Speaking against idol worship got them labeled as being godless

            • Peter is encouraging the believers to show the Gentiles, through their changed/sanctified/holy lives, that the accusations are not true or valid

          • The result of living this holy, sanctified life would be that the Gentiles would glorify God when Christ returns

        • So, how does this apply to our lives?

    • APPLICATION (how will we know if this mark of The Church marks Our Church?)

        • We will see evidence of God’s supernatural work in our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

          • Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. ​​ Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass (NASB1995)

          • The work of sanctification is the work of God in our lives as we submit to Him

        • We will see evidence of God’s sustaining work in our lives (Philippians 1:6)

          • For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (NASB1995)

          • The perfecting work in us is God’s sanctifying work – making us more like Jesus

        • We will see evidence of our part in the sustaining work of God in our lives (Philippians 2:12-13)

          • So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (NASB1995)

          • The working out of our salvation is again the process of sanctification

        • We will see evidence that we are being sanctified by time in Scripture (John 17:17)

          • Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth (NASB1995)

          • This takes us back to what we learned about sanctification from Jesus, the early church, and the apostles

        • We will see evidence that we are being sanctified through timeless obedience (Titus 2:11-15)

          • For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. ​​ These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. ​​ Let no one disregard you (NASB1995)

          • Obedience over the long haul – denying ungodliness and worldly desires, living sensibly, righteously and godly, and looking for Jesus second coming

        • Our desire is to have a church filled with people who are being conformed more and more into the image of the Son (Jesus)

 

  • YOU

    • Idaville Member Survey from RESTOR Renewal Ministries

        • There was one of the five survey questions that was in the top ten of least difficult for us as a church

          • “I can confidently say that being part of our church has deepened my desire to be more like Christ.” ​​ (7 out of 10).

            • This is encouraging!

            • I am excited that most of us have a deepened desire to be more like Christ

            • Notice that the primary word in the sentence is desire

          • I think the next question helps us understand that while we have a deepened desire, we don’t really know how to act on that desire

        • One of the remaining four questions was in the top 10 of most difficult for us

          • “The people in our church understand what ‘sanctification’ means and the means God uses to sanctify us as Christians.” ​​ (4 out of 10)

            • I hope everyone of us can now define sanctification – becoming more like Jesus Christ

            • I also hope that we now know the means that God uses to sanctify us

              • Jesus taught us that sanctification comes from the truth, which is found in God’s Word the Bible

              • The teaching of the early church helped us understand that God is serious about sanctification and holiness in His church

              • The Apostles teaching helped us to understand that becoming more like Jesus takes reading and heeding God’s Word, being filled with the Holy Spirit, pondering and meditating on who Jesus is and who we have become in Him, and abiding in Christ

            • Spiritual Life Journal

              • There are two commitments in the Spiritual Life Journal that apply to God’s Word

                • “I am committed to read through the Bible with my Idaville Church family in 2022.”

                • “I am committed to memorizing one verse a month with my Idaville Church family in 2022.”

                • I would encourage everyone to make those two commitments

                • The daily Bible reading guide is close to the back of the journal and the monthly memory verses are in the very back

                • I want to encourage you to take it two steps further

                  • After reading the daily Bible passage, journal what God is saying to you through His Word

                  • Share what God is teaching you with another person

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to reading through the Bible, journaling, and sharing what God is teaching me with others.

          • Where did the remaining three questions fall?

        • The three remaining questions all fell in the middle

          • “Our church has helped me to make a plan for my own personal sanctification.”

            • I do not know that we have helped each person make a personal plan for their own sanctification

            • We have definitely provided resources for you in the Spiritual Life Journal

            • Pastor Marc and I would love to meet with you, if you would like to develop a plan for your own personal sanctification

            • The initiative has to be on your part, otherwise it will not last

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Set up an appointment with Pastor Stuart or Pastor Marc to discuss my personal sanctification plan.

          • “It’s clear that the leaders in our church are consistently growing in their Christ-likeness.”

            • I trust that this will be more evident as we all pursue becoming more like Christ

          • “Our church consistently teaches on and encourages personal and corporate sanctification.”

            • As holiness and sanctification come up the various passages of Scripture that we are studying, I will make an concerted effort to highlight sanctification and encourage everyone to seek to become more like Christ

            • Our theme last year was “Pursuing Holiness”

            • We want to continue to do that even this year and beyond

 

  • WE

    • Vision

        • Core Values

          • “Our leadership strives to be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus, so we can lead more to Jesus.”

        • Growth Strategy

          • Three+ Uniques – “Preaching and teaching God’s Word.”

            • Through the weekly exposition of God’s Word, we all have the opportunity to learn more about Jesus and who we have become in Him

            • We can learn about abiding in Him and how to do that

          • Proven Process – “Sunday school and Discipleship groups.”

            • Sunday school and discipleship groups are an great way to learn the truths of God’s Word

            • When we learn the truths of God’s Word then we can become more like Jesus

    • Traction

        • “Have a 10% increase in the number of people attending Sunday school and/or discipleship groups.”

        • “Have a 10% increase in the pursuit of holiness as evidenced through salvations, baptisms, and accountability.”

 

CONCLUSION

The altar is open this morning with members of our prayer team. ​​ You can come forward today and kneel at the altar or pray with one of team members about anything. ​​ It may be about something the Holy Spirit has spoken to you about through God’s Word. ​​ It may be something you are dealing with personally. ​​ You come as the worship team plays quietly and then leads us in the closing song.

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