Saved and Sanctified by Faith

The apostle Paul wrote, “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified" (Rom. 6:6). Notice in this verse that the apostle is saying there is something we must know, not do, and the verb is past tense. Struggling believers try and try again to put the old man to death and they can’t do it. Why not? Because he is already dead! You cannot do for yourself what Christ has already done for you. Since many Christians are not living the abundant life, they incorrectly reason "what experience has to happen in order for this to be true?" The only thing that had to happen in order for that to be true, happened nearly two thousand years ago, and the only way you can enter into that experience is by faith.

A dear pastor who heard of our ministry asked for an appointment. He said, "I have struggled for twenty-two years in ministry, and I finally think I know what the answer is. In my devotional time I read, ‘For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God’ (Col. 3:3). That’s it, isn’t it?" I assured him it was. Then he asked, "How do I do that?" I suggested that he read the passage just a little bit slower. For twenty-two years he has been desperately trying to become somebody he already is, and such is the case for many other believers. It is not what we do that determines who we are; it is who we are that determines what we do. We don’t labor in the vineyard hoping that God may someday love us. God loves us and that is why we labor in the vineyard. We don’t serve God with the hope that God may someday accept us. We are already accepted in the Beloved; that is why we serve Him.

We must learn to accept what God says is true and live accordingly by faith. When we do, it works out in our experience. If we try to make what God says is true by our experience, we will never get there. Paul points out the futility of that thinking in Galatians 3:2: "I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" We are saved by faith, and we walk or live by faith. We have been sanctified by faith, and we are being sanctified by faith. We are neither saved nor sanctified by how we behave. Our behavior is just a reflection of what we are choosing to believe.

Dr. Neil

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