Tag Archives: Sanctification

Sanctifying Truth

Sanctifying Truth

Today’s Morning and Evening contains instruction, encouragement, and a final warning. It begins with a short primer on the origin and function of sanctification, followed by the implied call to tightly embrace God’s Word and sound teaching. Finally, a warning is made to never make light of error.

God’s Word is truth and that truth sanctifies us. So many men exhaust themselves in the quest to prove that God did not actually write the Bible. For the unbeliever, this is to be expected. But what ground is gained by the confused Christian’s pursuit to discredit the Spirit’s authoritative involvement in authorship?

To the self-inflated inquisitor, the God of Scripture will never be ‘off-the-hook’ or excused from their judgment’s table. He will always be too mean, too judgmental, and too righteous to love. So they try to reconcile the god of the their hopes with the God of the Bible… by pointing to problematic passages and shouting, “Aha! You see! That’s impossible! A perfect God couldn’t possibly inspire that! Let’s throw those silly doctrines of divine authorship, inerrancy, and scriptural authority out the window! Only a fool would believe such nonsense.”

It’s a sad thing that quickly turns ugly. As a best-case scenario, each side feels sorry for the other. The critic feels for the believer who blindly accepts God’s Word as truth. The believer feels for the critic because they reject God’s truth for a lie. As Spurgeon says below, “The passages of Scripture that prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God are numerous.” In today’s passage, Jesus Himself prayed:

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. — John 17:17

Likewise, the psalmist declared in Psalm 119:160:

The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

Let’s trust God at His Word and not lean on our own understanding for truth. Our earthly perspective is so limited, but our gracious Father sees and knows everything. His ways are always better than our ways, and sanctification comes from His Spirit through His Word.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

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Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. — John 17:17

Sanctification begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God implants in man that new living principle by which he becomes “a new creation”1 in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways-mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under, and vivification, by which the life that God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.

This is carried on every day in what is called perseverance, by which the Christian is preserved and continued in a gracious state and is made to abound in good works unto the praise and glory of God; and it culminates or comes to perfection in glory, when the soul, being thoroughly purged, is caught up to dwell with holy beings at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

But while the Spirit of God is thus the author of sanctification, yet there is a visible agency employed that must not be forgotten. “Sanctify them,” said Jesus, “in the truth; your word is truth.” The passages of Scripture that prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God are numerous. The Spirit of God brings to our minds the precepts and doctrines of truth and applies them with power. These are heard in the ear, and being received in the heart, they work in us to will and to do God’s good pleasure.

The truth is the sanctifier, and if we do not hear or read the truth, we shall not grow in sanctification. We only progress in sound living as we progress in sound understanding. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”2 Do not say of any error, “It is a mere matter of opinion.” No man indulges an error of judgment without sooner or later tolerating an error in practice. Hold fast the truth, for by doing so you shall be sanctified by the Spirit of God.

1 2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Psalm 119:105

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Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Devotional


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A Waking Nightmare

A Waking Nightmare

It is often said that the key to learning is repetition. Maybe that is why the following adage appears twice in Proverbs:

A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man. — Proverbs 6:10-11; 24:33-34

In this case, what is true for the body is also true for the soul.

Today’s Morning and Evening is a sobering reminder of the dangers of spiritual laziness. We all experience times of drought. For various reasons, we walk away from the till and fold our hands to rest under a large tree. We think we have earned a time-out. But idle sleepers are useless to themselves and the body of Christ. As soon as our eyes are shut, we become like zombies; hallowed husks of self-indulgent groaners. As Spurgeon observes, “lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences” will “eat up the fat of my comfort and peace.” Personal holiness and acts of service are not provisional disciplines.

If we are to fully enjoy the richness of Christ, we must remain diligent in our pursuit of His glory. An eternal rest is coming for God’s people. Until then, let’s do everything we can to remain unremittingly resilient against the waking nightmare of laziness.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows.
And Pharaoh awoke. — Genesis 41:4

Pharaoh’s dream has too often been my waking experience. My days of laziness have ruinously destroyed all that I had achieved in times of zealous endeavor; my seasons of coldness have frozen all the genial glow of my periods of fervency and enthusiasm; and my fits of worldliness have thrown me back from my advances in the divine life. I had need to beware of lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences, for these will eat up the fat of my comfort and peace.

If I neglect prayer for never so short a time, I lose all the spirituality to which I had attained; if I draw no fresh supplies from heaven, the old corn in my granary is soon consumed by the famine that rages in my soul. When the caterpillars of indifference, the worms of worldliness, and the snares of self-indulgence lay my heart completely desolate and make my soul languish, all my former fruitfulness and growth in grace avails me nothing whatever.

How anxious should I be to have no lean-fleshed days, no ill-favored hours! If every day I journeyed toward the goal of my desires I would soon reach it, but backsliding leaves me still far from the prize of my high calling and robs me of the advances that I had so strenuously made.

The only way in which all my days can be like the fat cows is to feed them in the right meadow, to spend them with the Lord, in His service, in His company, in His fear, and in His way. Why should not every year be richer than the past, in love and usefulness and joy? I am nearer the celestial hills; I have had more experience of my Lord and should be more like Him.

O Lord, keep far from me the curse of leanness of soul; let me not have to bemoan such leanness, but may I be well-fed and nourished in Your house, that I may praise Your name.

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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Devotional


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This morning’s Morning and Evening reminds us that the higher we climb, the more we see of Christ. This is an observation that every believer can attest to. We know more of Him today than we did yesterday and we long for the day when we will know Him fully. Is the climb worth it? Nothing compares to growing in the knowledge of Christ.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

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Get you up to a high mountain… — Isaiah 40:9

Our knowledge of Christ is somewhat like climbing one of the mountains in Wales. When you are at the base you see only a little: the mountain itself appears to be only half as high as it really is. Confined in a little valley, you discover scarcely anything but the rippling brooks as they descend into the stream at the foot of the mountain. Climb the first rising knoll, and the valley lengthens and widens beneath your feet. Go higher, and you see the country for four or five miles around, and you are delighted with the widening prospect. Higher still, and the scene enlarges; until at last, when you are on the summit and look east, west, north, and south, you see almost all of England lying before you. There is a forest in some distant county, perhaps two hundred miles away, and here the sea, and there a shining river and the smoking chimneys of a manufacturing town, or the masts of the ships in a busy port. All these things please and delight you, and you say, “I could not have imagined that so much could be seen at this elevation.”

Now, the Christian life is of the same order. When we first believe in Christ, we see only a little of Him. The higher we climb, the more we discover of His beauty. But who has ever gained the summit? Who has known all the heights and depths of the love of Christ that passes knowledge? When Paul had grown old and was sitting gray-haired and shivering in a dungeon in Rome, he was able to say with greater emphasis than we can, “I know whom I have believed,”1 for each experience had been like the climbing of a hill, each trial had been like ascending another summit, and his death seemed like gaining the top of the mountain, from which he could see the whole panorama of the faithfulness and love of Him to whom he had committed his soul. Get up, dear friend, into a high mountain.

1 2 Timothy 1:12

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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Devotional


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Morning Coffee – 05/29/14

Here are the stories I put in my coffee this morning.

  • God and Controversy
  • But that is not all Jude describes. He goes much further, showing not just how the false teachers speak and behave, but how, in response and as a defense, we are to contend for the faith.

  • Grace Is Not a Thing
  • The great American theologian Al Pacino once said, “I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.”

  • The Tone Deaf Singer
  • You can be utterly tone deaf and sing beautiful music in the ear of God when the gospel is dwelling richly within and when you are singing to exult in the Savior.

Video Clip Bonus:

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Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Links


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Salvation’s Work

Salvation’s Work

This morning’s Morning and Evening is a powerful reminder that salvation is a work of God’s doing… not ours. He is the initiator, driver, sustainer, and provider of everything… our salvation, sanctification, and eventual glorification.

Richard Baxter was a puritan who was often imprisoned for his teaching. On his deathbed, a friend attempted to comfort him with all the good his writings had accomplished. Baxter’s response was simply, “I was but a pen in God’s hand, and what praise is due to a pen?”

As Spurgeon says in today’s devotional, “If I have resisted a spiritual enemy, the Lord’s strength nerved my arm.” Apart from Him, we are nothing, have nothing, and can accomplish nothing. We are but instruments in the hand of a mighty Author. Philippians 2:13 states,

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Hebrews 12:2 says,

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith. He initiates it and refines it to completion. Let’s give glory where glory is due and say with Spurgeon today, “Whenever I sin, that is my own doing; but when I act correctly, that is wholly and completely of God.”

Here is Alistair Begg’s modernization of the Spurgeon classic.

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Salvation belongs to the LORD! — Jonah 2:9

Salvation is the work of God. It is He alone who quickens the soul “dead in…trespasses and sins,”1 and He it is who maintains the soul in its spiritual life. He is both “Alpha and Omega.”

“Salvation belongs to the LORD!” If I am prayerful, God makes me prayerful; if I have graces, they are God’s gifts to me; if I hold on in a consistent life, it is because He upholds me with His hand. I do nothing whatever toward my own preservation, except what God Himself first does in me. Whatever I have, all my goodness is of the Lord alone. Whenever I sin, that is my own doing; but when I act correctly, that is wholly and completely of God. If I have resisted a spiritual enemy, the Lord’s strength nerved my arm.

Do I live before men a consecrated life? It is not I, but Christ who lives in me. Am I sanctified? I did not cleanse myself: God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I separated from the world? I am separated by God’s chastisements sanctified to my good. Do I grow in knowledge? The great Instructor teaches me. All my jewels were fashioned by heavenly art. I find in God all that I want; but I find in myself nothing but sin and misery. “He only is my rock and my salvation.”2

Do I feed on the Word? That Word would be no food for me unless the Lord made it food for my soul and helped me to feed upon it. Do I live on the bread that comes down from heaven? What is that bread but Jesus Christ Himself incarnate, whose body and whose blood I eat and drink? Am I continually receiving fresh supplies of strength? Where do I gather my might? My help comes from heaven’s hills: Without Jesus I can do nothing.

As a branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can I, except I abide in Him. What Jonah learned in the ocean, let me learn this morning in my room: “Salvation belongs to the LORD.”

1Ephesians 2:1 2Psalm 62:2

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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Devotional


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Gardening Holiness

Gardening Holiness

Two Morning and Evening posts in a row! Today’s devotional is so good though, I feel obligated to share the wealth. Spurgeon touches on a universal conundrum that every believer experiences throughout their faithful journey… the motivations that drive our desires for holy living.

Spurgeon also has a talent for crafting pithy illustrations that stick. Today, he adds, “Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them.” And it’s true. We all wrestle with the pride and vanity that riddles our unseen bones. Self examination is humbling, but not crippling… thanks to the power of Christ’s sacrifice and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

I am thankful for passages such as Colossians 1:29, where Paul says,

For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.

Or 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, when he says,

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. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.

What was true for them is true for us. God has called us. He is faithful. He will surely do it. What a glorious God and Savior we serve!

Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

…guilt from the holy things… — Exodus 28:38

What a veil is lifted up by these words, and what a disclosure is made! It will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile and see this sad sight. The iniquities of our public worship, its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of heart, and forgetfulness of God—what a full measure have we there! Our work for the Lord, its emulation, selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief—what a mass of defilement is there! Our private devotions, their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness, and vanity—what a mountain of dead earth is there! If we looked more carefully, we should find this iniquity to be far greater than appears at first sight.

Dr. Payson, writing to his brother, says, “My parish, as well as my heart, very much resembles the garden of the sluggard; and what is worse, I find that very many of my desires for the improvement of both, proceed either from pride or vanity or indolence. I look at the weeds, which overspread my garden, and breathe out an earnest wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts the wish? So that I may walk out and say to myself, ‘In what fine order is my garden kept!’ This is pride. Or, so that my neighbors may look over the wall and say, ‘How finely your garden flourishes!’ This is vanity. Or I may wish for the destruction of the weeds, because I am weary of pulling them up. This is indolence.”

So even our desires after holiness may be polluted by ill motives. Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them. How cheering is the thought that when the High Priest bore the iniquity of the holy things he wore upon his brow the words, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD,” and even so while Jesus bears our sin, He presents before His Father’s face not our unholiness, but His own holiness. O for grace to view our great High Priest by the eye of faith!

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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Devotional


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