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Growing in Grace

The Verdict / John Munro
The Truth Network Radio
October 24, 2022 3:35 pm

Growing in Grace

The Verdict / John Munro

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October 24, 2022 3:35 pm

Pastor Jim Pile October 23, 2022

The Christian Worldview
David Wheaton
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Matt Slick Live!
Matt Slick
Growing in Grace
Doug Agnew

I want to begin tonight on this topic of growing in grace, our sanctification, by asking us a few questions that I will then answer by Scripture. What is the chief end of man? Why are we here? Well, the Westminster Confession of Faith says, man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Scripture puts it this way in Psalm 86, verse 12.

I give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify Your name forever. What was Jesus' purpose in coming? Galatians 4, 4, But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that He might receive adoption as sons. What has Christ done for us? 2 Corinthians 5, 21, For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Beloved, when we place our faith and trust in Christ, what happens?

Two amazing things occur at salvation. First, we're justified, and then begins the process of progressive sanctification. Let me first talk a little bit about justification, or as theologians say, our positional sanctification.

What does that mean? It simply means that we are set apart for God's possession and use in Christ. Positional sanctification is possessed by us at the moment of our salvation, when we confessed our sins. At salvation, by faith, God declared us just or righteous based upon Christ's sacrificial work on the cross. He declares us legally in His court of law, not guilty, based on the merits of Christ.

And of course, that comes by faith. That's justification when God places us positionally in Christ. Our justification not only frees us from any charge of guilt, but God also imputes the full merit of Christ's righteousness into our own personal bank accounts. Romans 5, 1 says, Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul, speaking to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20, verse 32, says this, 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.

That's positional sanctification. When we place our faith and trust in Christ, He takes us out of darkness and places us into the kingdom of light. In Christ's kingdom. 2 Corinthians 5, 17, you're familiar with this.

Therefore, if any man is what? In Christ. He's a new creature. Behold, old things have passed away.

Behold, new things have come. Also, one more thought on this, we're also complete in Christ. When we're justified, when God lowers His gavel and says, you are forgiven, you are now adopted as sons and daughters of My Son.

We are now complete in Him. Colossians 2, 10. Paul writes there to the Colossians, And you have been filled in Him who is the head of all rule and authority. That not only means, beloved, that we are positionally removed from darkness into His marvelous light, but also the fact that we have all the heavenly resources we need for spiritual maturity. We are now in Christ.

Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 1-2. To the church of God, that is in Corinth. To those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who are in every place, call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours. We're positionally sanctified.

We're justified. We're placed in Christ. Knowing that great truth, that we are in Christ, should give us great confidence in dealing with the trials of life that we all deal with.

Whether they're spiritual trials, physical trials, whatever God allows in His sovereign plan and purposes to come into our life, that should give us great confidence that we are justified. That is positional sanctification. And that then leads us to what I want to speak to us about this evening. Progressive sanctification.

What does that mean? What is progressive sanctification? That simply means that's our daily growth in grace to become more like Christ. We are set apart.

We're justified. We're in Christ. Now we begin the process, like babies, to be fed from the Word of God and to grow each day to become more like Christ. That's progressive sanctification. And that happens throughout our life ultimately until glorification.

Until God calls us home and we're glorified. Saving grace makes us more holy by the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God. How are we sanctified?

Through God's Word. 2 Corinthians 1-20, Paul says this, how great is this promise? For all the promises of God find their yes in Christ. That is why it is through Him that we utter our amen to God for His glory. Progressive sanctification then is the joint work between God and us where God supplies grace for us to grow in grace by obedience to Christ.

While we are made holy in a definitive sense at conversion, it still remains for us to grow in holiness. Let's look at a couple of verses that speak to our ongoing sanctification and our pursuit of holiness. The first one, I invite you to take your Bibles and turn to 2 Corinthians 3.18. 2 Corinthians 3-18.

Let me actually back up. We'll start in verse 4 to read the context here so that we see how free we are in Christ compared to the old covenant. 2 Corinthians 3-4, Paul writes there, such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God who has made us sufficient to be ministers of the new covenant. Not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death carved in letters on stone came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all because the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold. Not like Moses who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts. This is speaking about those unbelievers. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is what?

Removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 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. Notice what he says here in verse 18.

I just want to make a few comments on this passage, on this verse. We as believers in Christ have nothing obstructing our vision of Christ and His glory as revealed in Scripture. Now today, we have glass mirrors. We can bring that mirror up to our face and get an unobstructed view of our face. And sometimes, maybe early in the morning or whatever, that might be a bit scary for us as we look into that glass mirror, right?

We can get a good image of what we're looking at. Now keep in mind, mirrors in the New Testament times were polished metal and thus offered a far from perfect reflection. We don't see a perfect representation of God's glory now, but we will someday. 1 Corinthians 13, 12, Paul says, "...For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.

Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." This verse, verse 18, speaks of us being transformed into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another. This is progressive sanctification. Notice he says, "...Beholding the glory of the Lord..." What does that mean? It's simply speaking to the intimate relationship we can have with Christ. From one level of manifesting Christ to another. The more we grow in the knowledge of Christ and apply His Word in our lives, the more He has revealed to us, the more we grow. It's like taking steps throughout our Christian life as we proceed on our walk toward Heaven.

It's like walking up stair steps. That's progressive sanctification. That's pursuing holiness. That's transformation as he says here. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to another. "...For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." He's saying here as we gaze at the glory of the Lord through His Word, we are continually being transformed into the image of Christ's likeness.

Notice the end of verse 18. "...For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." This ongoing sanctification comes through the powerful working of the Lord through the Spirit of God who dwells within us, right? When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit comes and resides in us. And He continues to begin the process of changing us. And that should be the ultimate goal for any of us as followers of Christ.

So let me ask you a couple more questions here. As others, gaze into your life and watch you as a professing Christian. Do they see Christ in you? How are you reflecting being transformed from one glory to another?

Do other people see Christ in you? Do your words and actions reflect a close, intimate walk with our Lord? Romans 12, verses 1 and 2. Take your Bibles and turn back there for a second. Romans 12, verses 1 and 2. Romans 12, verses 1 and 2.

Paul there says, "...I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect." How are we transformed? Through the renewing of our mind.

How does that happen? By studying and knowing God's Word. And our sanctification will not be made perfect here on earth. We know that, but we are to continue to progress unto holiness.

To become more and more like Jesus Christ. That's the sign of a true believer. That we're growing. That we're changing. That we're being transformed from one glory to another.

That's progressive sanctification. Now as I mentioned, that's not going to happen perfectly in this lifetime, but that's the goal. That the Spirit of God works in and through us, transforming us to become more like Christ. Paul puts it this way in Philippians 3, 12-14, not that I have already obtained this, or I am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Again, we're in Christ. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Is that your goal? To become more and more like Christ?

I hope that it is. We must also strive for holiness. Another passage verse that I just want to take a look at here briefly tonight is Hebrews 12-14. Flip over to Hebrews 12-14. Hebrews 12-14. Notice what the writer here tells us.

Here's a command. Strive for peace with everyone. In fact, Paul says in Romans 12-18, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. We're to strive for peace with everyone.

But notice the second phrase here. And for the holiness, how serious is this? Our walk with Christ, without which no one will see the Lord.

It's pretty serious, isn't it? Pretty serious command. Strive for peace. Strive for holiness. What does holiness mean? It simply means to be set apart for God in order to reflect His purity.

It's the practice of being of one mind with God according to His revealed will in the Scriptures. To become more holy. To become more like Christ. It's interesting to note that the use of the word holy was used more than 600 times in the Bible. Do you think the Lord wants us to get the point to strive after holiness?

Some 600 times in different forms. Pursue holiness. Be holy as I am holy as the Apostle Peter tells us. Holiness is simply our spiritual growth is simply matching our practice with our position in Christ. So that's a question we need to ask ourselves. Is my practice matching my position in Christ?

What does that look like? Again, as others view our life, do they see Jesus Christ reflected in my walk? Am I truly different than the world as I profess Jesus Christ? So the Bible's teaching us that we're on a pilgrimage, a journey called life. And the way we walk reflects what we believe. Holiness is a process. Now, Pastor Monroe's been leading us in talking about the seven deadly sins. And so far, he's covered pride which is behind all of man's sins, all the way back to the fall of Satan.

We know that from Scripture. Envy, anger, sloth. Last week, gluttony.

And this morning, he talked about greed. How do we deal with these sins? Or any other sin that may be in our life? How do we progress? How do we put off, renew, and put on? How do we change?

What can we do to mature in our faith? Well, I wanted to make this very practical. As you can see, this is not an expositional sermon tonight as we just reviewed these two verses.

But I wanted to make it very practical to sort of dovetail with his series. How do we deal with sin in our lives? Let me give you six practices.

There's many that we could talk about. Let me give you six practices that will guide you in your walk with the Lord. Number one, a person who desires to be sanctified to become more holy will fear God at all times.

At all times. Proverbs 9, verse 10, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Let me show you a contrast here from Scripture. Turn to Luke 1.

One person who fears God at all times and another one who struggled with that a bit. Luke 1. When Gabriel came and talked to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, and told him that your wife Elizabeth will have a son, Zechariah didn't believe his words. And here's what he says, verse 18. Luke 1. And Zechariah said to the angel, how shall I know this?

For I am an old man and my wife has advanced in years. And the angel answered him, I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not, what? Believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time. There's an example of somebody struggling with believing Gabriel, the angel who came to bear good news.

Now contrast that. Fearing God at all times, contrast that with Mary. Gabriel comes to announce to Mary, you're going to have a son. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, verse 31, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. Verse 38, And Mary said, Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to Your Word. And the angel departed from her. Mary feared God at all times.

She accepted what Gabriel said. Are you fearing God at all times in your own walk with the Lord? Are you sure that God has turned you from the darkness to the light of Christ? 1 John reminds us, if so, you will desire to walk in the light and not practice the deeds of the flesh.

Because God is light. If we follow Him, we are to walk as Christ walked. So principle number one, or practice number one, is fear God at all times in your sanctification. Number two, we will shun every known sin and lovingly keep God's commandments.

To shun sin and keep His commandments. We will have a desire to be pleasing to God more than being pleasing to our spouse, family, friends, or even co-workers. It's love for Jesus Christ that keeps us from sinning. Because we desire that intimate relationship and that ongoing process of becoming more like Christ. Remember beloved, we have to measure our sins against a holy God.

Not compared to other people or just a victory for us. We must always compare what we do according to God's standard. His perfection. His holiness. That's why we say to parents, don't compare your kids to other people. The standard's always Jesus Christ.

That helps your kids see how imperfect they are. As mentioned this morning by Pastor Monroe, little sinners, that they need Christ. We must always compare our walk with how Christ walked. We must take all sin seriously. Sometimes we categorize, I think, our sins mentally, and we say to ourselves, well, I don't practice most of the seven deadly sins, so I'm OK compared to this next Christian.

This person. Or sometimes we may categorize sins. Well, this is kind of a respectable thing that maybe I can lie a little bit or gossip a little bit about so-and-so.

After all, I want to get somebody on my side and so forth. It's not really sinning, but we must always compare what we're doing to the standard of Christ. Psalm 119 v. 11, you're familiar with this. I have stored up Your Word in my heart that I might not what? Sin against You. That I might not sin against You. If someone were to ask you right now, what motivates you to shun, sin, and follow Christ's commandments? There should only be one common answer if you're a true follower of Christ. It's because I love Jesus Christ and what He's done for me. That's what will prevent you from sin and help you in your walk to progress in sanctification. Jesus said in John 14-15, if you love Me, you will what? Keep My commandments.

Keep My commandments. So examine your own heart. Do you see or know of anything that's in there that you know to be wrong in the sight of God? Examine yourself.

If you do, then you must attack it. Nothing deadens your conscience more than an allowed sin. Even if it's a small one, it will begin to grow. It will begin to manifest. All it takes is one small sin.

Living in Southern California for 30 years, all it took was just one spark to start a fire which would destroy thousands of acres as we see depicted on the news. So keep in mind, a little allowed sin can potentially ruin your soul. Turn to Romans 6-12.

Paul summarizes it well there. Romans 6, verse 12 and following. Very clear here from the hand of the Apostle Paul. Romans 6-12, let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under law, but under what? Grace.

You're under grace. And that should cause us to follow Christ closely. Present yourselves to God, the members of your body, not to sin, but to righteousness.

We have to keep in mind also what Paul warned the Corinthians of. A little leaven leavens the whole what? Lump. Don't play with sin. Shun it. Flee.

Run from it. Number three, how do I continue to progress in my walk with the Lord? Number three, we'll inhale Scripture and exhale prayer. Dane Ortlund makes that point in his helpful little book, How God Changes Us. He says we inhale Scripture and exhale prayer.

I thought that's a great breathing metaphor, isn't it? We don't go through life. We can't hold our breath and go through life. And thus, we need to make Scripture a daily intake. To inhale Scripture daily and exhale through prayer.

Ask ourselves this question. Does Scripture help us to turn from lies to truth? To put off lies to turn to the truth? Jesus said in John 17, 17, sanctify them in the truth.

Thy Word is truth. 1 Peter 2, 2, Peter puts it this way, like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk that by it you may what? Grow up in your salvation. Like a newborn baby, long for the pure milk of the Word of God.

That's how we grow. Inhale Scripture, exhale prayer on a daily basis. Listen to this couple, members of our church, put it this way.

Beautiful little quote from them. As we know, God's Word is fundamental to us in all aspects of our walk, and it is critical to our sanctification. To be in the Word and soak in the truth is one of the key ways we grow to deepen our faith and become mature Christians. The pain and despair we experience in life is a way for us to look away from and beyond ourselves and our selfishness, and experience God's love, forgiveness, strength, and even joy in Him. It's well stated. Look to the Word of God.

Inhale it daily. Number four, a person who's truly serious about pursuing sanctification will walk in gentleness and humility. Ephesians 4, 1-3, Paul says, I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. A person who walks in humility will see more sin in their own heart than in any other person in the world. And the more we become like Christ, beloved, the more clearly that becomes, that we see that.

As I talk to many of you senior saints here at our church, I love talking to people that have been walking with Christ 50, 60, 70 years in some cases. They're very sensitive to their sin because they walk in gentleness and humility. They've walked with Christ a long time and they see their sins very clearly. So deal with your own sin in your own heart and be careful how you point out the specs in somebody else's life.

And that can be a difficult challenge at times because some of you are dealing with a difficult spouse, family member, friend, or boss, and yet Sarah is a good example. How do you win an unsaved husband to the Lord? By writing, repent on his beer can.

No, by your pure and chaste life. 1 Peter 3, 1-6. That's how you draw somebody to saving faith is by a gentle and humble lifestyle. Psalm 51, 3 and 4. David, after his great sin with Bathsheba, says this, "...For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.

Against You and You only have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blame us in Your judgment." A truly humble person will understand that as they pursue Christ. To walk in gentleness and humility.

Number five. We will follow after purity of heart. Matthew 5, 8. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall what? See God. A person who desires to be more like Christ, who will pursue holiness, will seek after the things of purity of heart.

You will hate the things that are filthy and unclean for your spiritual life, and you will seek earnestly to avoid all things that might draw you into sin. That's why Paul warned Timothy, flee sin. Even as we heard this morning with greed. Flee the pursuit of the love of money. That's what gets us into trouble, right? As an example of greed. Flee those things.

Pursue holiness, righteousness, and truth, Paul said. Run away from them. Makes you think of Joseph when Potiphar's wife was tempting him day after day. Come lie with me.

No one needs to know. What did he do? Did he stand around and witness to her at that point?

No, he fled. He pursued the things that were purity of heart, to trust in the Lord, to follow Him. So very practically, beloved, be discerning about the books you read, the movies you watch, conversations you have or listen to, participate in with others.

Because oftentimes I've heard people in counseling over the years to say, well, Pastor Powell, I didn't really think about that. It didn't look like sin. The pills and so forth that we see with fentanyl coming into our country, they can look good on the outside, yet they're laced with fentanyl. Deadly, right?

Poison. Sin tries to appeal to us. It looks good on the outside. It may look desirable and pleasant, yet it bites like a serpent. It's deadly. Because sin doesn't come up to us and say, hey, I'm sin. You shouldn't be doing this right now.

No, it looks pleasant on the outside, but it's deadly. That's why Paul said in Romans 13-14, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires. Make no provision for the flesh. Strive for purity of heart.

And number six, and there's many more that we could develop, but these are six that I thought of. Another practice is be accountable to someone. Who are you accountable to in your walk with Christ? I don't care what age you are, even if you've been walking a senior saint here tonight and been walking with the Lord for a long time, you need to have somebody in your life that will hold you accountable. And also then, to be discipling others younger than you.

To pour into them. So we need somebody older and more mature, I would submit to you, in the faith, to be accountable to, have peers that help us as well, and also to be discipling others. To be accountable to other godly people. Do you have wise people in your life that help you to turn from foolishness to wisdom?

I hope that you do. That's important if we want to pursue holiness. Be accountable. And then help others. Even if you're a newer Christian, take what you've learned and help teach that to somebody who doesn't know as much as you do. And in a big church like ours, there's plenty of opportunity to do that.

OK? Let me close by quoting one of our senior saints who has had many life experiences. I asked her to jot down a few thoughts for us regarding sanctification.

She writes this, as a Christian, we all go through the process of sanctification in different ways. One of the most pivotal times in my life was in the year 2017. That year began as the worst year of my life, but ended as the most wonderful year in my Christian walk. As a result of allowing my own self-control to lead me in each day, I experienced a near-death event that lasted several months. It was in that dark time that one night as I was crying buckets of tears while talking to God, that I felt His reaching out to me. And that feeling of my being in control was not what He desired in my life. That night, I completely surrendered my life to the control of the Holy Spirit.

It has now been five years since that moment. And I can say that the relationship I have with our Savior could not be any sweeter. Now in my prayer time with the Lord, I often thank Him for my valley. And remember the psalmist's words in Psalm 119, v. 71-72. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. Beloved, I hope this brief message on sanctification is helpful and some of the practices that we can use to help guide us in our walk will be helpful to each one of us because our desire should be to become more and more like Christ each day. And I'll end with Proverbs 4.18. How beautiful is this one verse? "...But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, it shines brighter and brighter until the full day."

I hope that's your heartbeat. To shine brighter and brighter for Christ as you are being sanctified in Him. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the Lord Jesus Christ that You, for a born again Christian, You have placed us in Christ positionally.

You've justified us. You've cleared us of all of our guilt, past, present, and future. And now You're sanctifying us and You command us to strive to be more holy, to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. May each one of us desire to do that by practicing some of the principles that we've talked about tonight from Scripture. Help us to pursue You more and more each day, so that we can be like the light of dawn that becomes clearer and clearer until the noon day. Help our light shine brightly for Christ, for it's in His name that we pray. And all God's people said, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-13 08:46:32 / 2022-11-13 09:01:21 / 15

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