Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Wednesday, August 9th. Christians are completely forgiven, but often still struggle with living that way. That's where the process of sanctification comes in. Let's learn more about this in part two of Sanctification, God's Grand Plan. Do you believe that God has a plan for your life or do you feel like He just sort of left you here to do your own thing? Well, in the twenty-ninth chapter of Jeremiah, he makes it very clear that he has a plan for a life.
And here's what he says in the eleventh verse. For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope. Probably most people are going to live their lives. They're going to come to the end of their life and they're not even really going to realize why they were here. They'll never think about the fact that God had a plan for them, that He had the best possible plan anyone could even begin to imagine. And yet they will have lived their life.
It'll all be over and they'll miss the whole point for which they were living. Well, God has a very grand plan. I mean, an awesome grand plan.
He has a grand plan for every single person. But there is one word that sums up God's great plan because of the different facets of that word and what it means. That word is sanctification. I want to clarify what we mean when the Bible says sanctification. The word sanctification means holy or in a verb form, it would mean to make holy or to separate. And so when we think in terms of sanctification, we're thinking in terms of something being separated.
That is, the term really means to separate something from a common use to a sacred use. Sanctification, listen, is God's grand plan for every single one of us. Now, there are stages to God's grand plan.
So I hope you'll listen carefully and you'll get these down because I want you to find out where you are in this plan. God's grand plan is wrapped up in one word, sanctification. Set apart by God, for God, listen, to radiate the character of God and the person of Jesus Christ. Now, here's the first stage in God's grand plan. The first stage is the sanctification stage of salvation. That is, God in one moment of time saves us from our sins through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and our trust in His shed blooded Calvary. And at that moment, at that moment, that's the first step, the first stage in our sanctifying process.
Now, what happened? What happened was when we took upon ourselves the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, something happened to that position. What happened to that position is the Bible says we were born again. When we were born again, our sins were forgiven, cleansed. We were then at that moment adopted into the family of God.
So now we have a personal relationship with Him. We're not dead in trespasses and sins. Now we're living under the grace of God, not the wrath of God.
Now we're no longer enemies, we're His children. And we have been called, we have been, listen, given the position of being a saint. Having been removed from that position to a new position, listen, dead in trespasses and sins, under the wrath of God, enemies of God. Now the children of the living God, living under the canopy of the grace of God and the goodness of God and the love of God and the mercy of God.
What an awesome change in our position. That's what sanctification does because the moment you were saved, God took you, listen, made you a holy possession of His, set you apart for Himself, unto Himself to live for the purpose of living a godly life. Now that's the first stage. That is the first stage of the sanctified life is certainly a position.
But there's a second stage. Now the first stage is something God does for us. Totally of God. He convicted you of your sins. He gave you the faith. He showed you that you needed to be saved and He's the one who saved you.
That act is an act of God. The second stage is a different stage. The second stage is a stage of progress. The first stage is a period He saved us. The second stage now is a line, something that goes on and on and on for the rest of our lives here on this earth. And that is that second stage is our progressive walk in growth toward the Lord Jesus Christ. So today every single believer, every single person who's a believer is in the second stage of sanctification. Stage one, an act. Stage two, a line. Progressive, something's going on. And the truth is all of us should be being progressive in our Christ-likeness, in our attitude and our conduct and our behavior.
Stage number two is that stage, listen, of being shaped and molded and conformed to the likeness of His Son. We don't like His tools. I don't.
But you know what? He didn't ask me if I liked Him. He's going to send us what He knows we need to shape us, mold us and make us in the likeness of His Son.
Why? Because listen to what He said. He predestined, let me tell you something. Whatever God predestined to do is going to happen no matter what. Now He didn't say He predestined to save everybody. He predestined to conform us to the likeness of His Son. So let's think about it.
You think about all these Scriptures that you and I read in the Bible and you think about how many of them would imply what? Change in our life. Transformation in our life. God doing something awesome in our life.
So let's look at a few of them. Let's look, if you will, at First Peter chapter one for a moment. First Peter chapter one and notice what he says beginning in verse fourteen. He says, as obedient children, do not be conformed to the form of lust. That is, look, he says, as obedient children, don't let the world push you back into the mold God snatched you out of when He changed your position.
Don't let it happen. What does that mean? Now watch this carefully. You listen and say amen. He says, beforehand, you didn't know how much He loved you and His personal interest in you and that He wants to answer your prayers, meet your needs. Make you the person He wants you to be. You didn't understand all that.
He says in your ignorance. But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior because it is written, you shall be holy for I am holy. God has made us holy as His saints and He is in the process of doing what? Of working that out in our lives. The holiness that is within us. The spirit of the living God desiring holy conduct and holy conversation and holy character. So many verses, hundreds of verses in the scripture all apply to our progressive sanctification. In verse six of chapter one of Philippians, he says, for I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it, will complete it until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is, he's going to keep it going. Look, if you will, in chapter four of Ephesians, go back to Ephesians chapter four. Notice something he says here. Therefore, based on everything else he just said about their position in Christ, I the prisoner of the Lord, writing this from a prison, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you've been called. What is he saying? In this progressive sanctification, he says, I'm urging you to walk in a manner that's in keeping with who you are. Who are you? A saint of the living God.
Walk in that manner. And so what he wants is, he wants those who are living examples. He wants us to be living examples of who he is. Sinless?
We said no. We're not going to be sinless in this life. As long as we live in the flesh, we're not going to be sinless. We're not talking about being sinless. We're talking about the Spirit of the living God doing what?
Growing us up. He said to them, he said, in your days of ignorance, this is the way you acted. Well, all of us have been ignorant about some very important spiritual principles because either we were not taught or we were so young when we were saved.
Nobody told us. We didn't understand them. And some things you don't understand when you're a young person, a child being saved. I think about seven, eight, nine-year-old children walking down this aisle and having trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior. If I start talking about reconciliation and justification and so forth and use those terms, hey, we know what that means. But if I slip down to their level and say, here's what this means. So oftentimes children join churches. Nobody ever takes time to sit down and explain to them the very basic principles by which they're to live. And so they struggle through life and get in all kinds of trouble.
Listen, think about this. Why is it that so many children leave church in their teenage years? Why do they leave church? They wouldn't leave if they had been anchored to the truth. They wouldn't leave if they thought, here's something I'm going to need the rest of my life and I'm going to grab it and I'm going to hold on to it and I'm going to work it in my life and I want it active in my life before I leave home among my parents.
So when I get out there and all hell breaks through in my life and the devil does everything he can to destroy me, I'll have something to live by. That's the reason we must do our best to get the truth to them. Second stage, tough stage, amen? It's a tough stage sometimes. And sometimes we just like to just move on to stage number three. You know why he doesn't move us on to stage number three so quickly? Because he's got something in mind.
You know what he said? Conforming, shaping us, molding us. I think God takes great delight in that. I don't think he necessarily takes great delight in seeing us suffering. But you know what? Think about this. He loves you and me so much. He's willing for us to hurt if it's necessary to get us shaped up into the image he wants us to be. Now think about living your entire life and missing out on the whole plan.
All of us get mailed. Somebody's got a plan. If you join this plan, that plan, the other plan, they got all kind of promises and some of it's probably true and some of it's not always true. They got all kind of plans.
You know what? Plans come and plans go. The plan I'm talking about, it's come and it will never go. Because it is God's divine plan for your best if you're wise enough to get in the plan. And so God's best is reserved and He's not going to give His best to one who's denied Him the rightful place in their life. So stage number two is a tough stage because this is where God's doing His work. Now He says, for example, in First Peter, that third, Second Peter, that third chapter, the last verse, here's what He says. He says in verse 18, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Grow in our knowledge and grace. I know that if you listen to In Touch, if you listen to the message week after week and you take notes and you apply these notes, you are going to grow in your knowledge and understanding of the Word of God.
Your knowledge and understanding of who God is and your knowledge and understanding of how to live the Christian life. That much I know. But you can listen and forget it. And you know what happens? What happens is you take a setback.
Now the other word for setback is backslide. Because listen, if you don't apply the principles of Scripture to your life, you're not going to live a godly life. You don't live a godly life. Listen, you're missing God's purpose for which He created you. And that is to live such a godly life that you reflect something of the life of Christ. Will it always be the same thing?
No. And as we progress in the sanctification, the progressive sanctification, you know what's going to happen? There's going to be strength in your life and joy in your life and peace in your life and happiness in your life in times when before any one of them, you would have thought this is it. This is the end of everything. Why? You made progress.
God's doing something fantastic in your life. Will there be trials? Will there be setbacks? Will there be those dips in our life?
Absolutely. But here's the problem. And this is why growth is so important. You learn what to do with those down times. You learn what makes you go down. You learn what to do when you get down.
And you learn how to get up and keep moving. Because you see, you're not going to be sinless in this life. So because we're not sinless, we're going to have those times when we either say or do or our attitude is such, that we are not what we ought to be, not doing what we ought to be doing. We're selfish, egotistical, prideful, whatever it might be. And what happens is we suffer the consequences. But what happens? When Jesus Christ went to the cross, laid down His life at Calvary and shed His blood for our sin debt, He paid forever in His atoning death our sin debt.
He paid it in full. So that you and I now are walking in the light. Every once in a while, we may step over here into some dark conduct or attitude or whatever it might be.
What does He do? He brings us back. Am I forgiven? Listen, the grace of God is our cure for sin.
That is His shed blood at Calvary. He, when we confess and repent of our sins, we experience His forgiveness and move on. How do we grow in the Christian life? How does a child grow? A child stumbles and falls. You pick them up and they walk. They stumble and fall.
You pick them up and they walk. And you know what? As a Christian, there'll be times when you stumble and fall.
But this is much I know. This is the stage in which I and you, we must cooperate with God to make this stage successful. Salvation, something He did. The last stage, something He does. This middle stage is something that He and I, that is I have to cooperate with Him in the process or we get ourselves in deep trouble. Now, let's come to the third stage. First stage of our sanctification is our salvation moment when He sets us apart at that moment as a saint. Second stage is our trip from sainthood, as we would call it, all the way to death.
Because in the third stage is what happens. The third stage is our ultimate perfection. Our ultimate perfection. Now, what are we talking about?
I'm talking about our ultimate perfection. You remember what He said in this fifth chapter? He said, now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely, completely, ultimately. And may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete without blame at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, we said this stage is like the first stage. This is what God does. When you and I die, something happens. And that is our soul, our spirit, perfected forever at death in the presence of God. These bodies of ours are perfected at the great resurrection. So when you and I die, we walk in the presence of God absolutely spotless, absolutely perfect. These imperfect bodies of ours at the resurrection, they're going to be resurrected, transformed like the body of Christ, absolutely perfected. So that the final stage of sanctification comes at death and at the resurrection, at which time we are absolutely conformed to the perfect likeness of the Son of God in character, conversation, conduct, at total being.
That's the work of the Holy Spirit, and that is the work of sanctification. God knows exactly what He's doing. Listen, this is God's grand plan.
He knows exactly what He's doing. Step number one, that plan, salvation. Step number two, progression. Step number three, finality. Absolutely conformed to the likeness of His Son, ultimately sanctified. So what do we have? We have a position of sanctification at salvation, a progressiveness of sanctification throughout our life, and then ultimately the possession of absolute sanctification, perfect when it comes to this issue of death.
Now, let me ask you a couple of questions. Are you ready to meet the Lord Jesus Christ just like you are? Well, if not, maybe you should look at what kind of progress you're making in your walk with God.
Because you see, here's what it's all about. It's walking in the light, walking in the truth, walking in love, walking in joy, all the way till we take the final step. An easy walk? No. Difficulty, hardship, pain, trouble, defeat? Yes. Forgiveness a thousand times? Yes. But is it possible to have joy and peace and contentment and an intimate relationship with our Lord through all those times? Yes. Is it worth the walk?
Yes. If you and I could only get a glimpse of what the third stage is like, we would never complain or moan or groan or act in such a way that would bring our Heavenly Father grief and displeasure. And so I simply want to ask you to consider this.
Sanctification, being made holy, set apart for God and His purposes, is God's grand plan for you. There are three stages. If you've never stepped into that first stage of salvation, I want to plead with you to do it. If you're in that second stage, I want to ask you to check out your life and say, ask yourself this question. Where is the proof that I'm making progress? In stage number three, you want to be ready for it because it's coming one of these days at some point in some time, nobody knows when.
It's coming. We want to be ready. We want to so live that when it comes, we won't have to regret stepping out of this life into the next one.
Because that's what He's been doing all these years, shaping us up, getting us ready to meet Him base to base. Amen. Father, in Jesus' name, we pray the Holy Spirit would sink this message so deep that not a single person could escape it. So penetrating that we all be willing to evaluate our lives afresh and anew and see what kind of progress we're making. And we pray this in Jesus' name. Amen. Thank you for listening to part two of Sanctification, God's Grand Plan. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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