Deliverance From The Penalty And Power Of Sin
“Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Justification And Sanctification
The book of Galatians explains the tremendous doctrine of sanctification as no other epistle that Paul wrote. It was to Paul that the Lord gave the full-blown measure of justification and sanctification plus, to be frank with you, every major doctrine of the Bible—all of it resting upon the cross of Christ.
Now I want to make a statement that I’ve made several times: Justification is deliverance by the power of God from the penalty of sin; sanctification is deliverance by the power of God from the power of sin.
You might ask, “Now what do you mean by the penalty?” Man broke the law, to be frank with you; there’s never been one who didn’t except the Lord Jesus Christ. The penalty is eternal hell forever and forever, and I don’t say that with any gladness or joy. And let me say it again because it’s phenomenally important: Justification is deliverance of the penalty of sin, which is eternal hell. People ask me a lot of times about certain people, whom I mostly don’t know, “Do you think they’re saved?” My answer always is, “I pray God they are,” because I would not wish eternal hell on anyone. It’s the most horrifying thought that the mind of man can comprehend, and at great price at Calvary’s cross, Jesus Christ delivered us from that penalty.
About a year ago, Loren Larson made a statement, and when he made it, I didn’t say anything, but I thought, I’m not so sure that’s right. He said, “I don’t think the modern church understands justification by faith.” But I’ve come to find out that he was exactly right—they don’t.
I got a letter the other day from a preacher that I have met one time, but I didn’t know him, really—never heard him preach. Anyway, he had run into a problem—a morals problem—and he was telling me how that he was in a certain church in a certain city, a big church—four or five thousand in attendance, or something like that, and the pastors put him in their version of a penance program. In regards to the sin which he had committed, he was to spend two hours a week with a psychologist, an hour a week with one of the pastors of the church, do certain physical chores around the church every day, spend an hour a day in prayer and Bible study, and not go more than thirty miles outside of town. Now stop and think: what in the world would all of that do about setting somebody free? Zero. Absolutely zero—I don’t mean it will help a little—it will help none.
Anyway, I wrote him back and I said, “My brother, I’m sure they mean well (I did not know the men, the pastors of the big church; I’d never heard of them) and I’m sure that they’re trying to help, but it won’t do you any good.” It’s like trying to make aspirin have an effect on cancer—it doesn’t work. Now you might say, “Well what should they have done?” Well first, they should have told him why he failed and how that his faith in something other than Christ and the cross allowed the sin nature to cause the problem. But they didn’t do that because they didn’t know anything about the cross—zero—and that’s the tragedy of so many today, they just don’t know anything about it. Sure enough, when the time allotted came, and those pastors told that man, “Now you’re free,” in a week’s time he had fallen right back into the same problem all over again, which showed that they did not understand what justification was.
Now let’s look at sanctification: Paul said, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father”—that is sanctifying peace. It is sanctifying peace—not the sanctification that is given to the person who comes to Christ. The moment he is saved he is instantly sanctified.
Now stop and think a moment, justification is the declaration that one is not guilty. Justification declares one clean, and sanctification makes one clean. Before one can be declared clean, he has to be made clean. That’s the reason Paul listed sanctification as number one, sanctified first—cleansed and sanctified—and then justification comes. But I’ll say it again because I want you to get it: Justification is the declaration that one has been made clean, but before that declaration can be met, one has to be made clean, and that’s why sanctification comes first.
Paul is not speaking here of the sanctification that comes at conversion; he is speaking of ongoing sanctification, progressive sanctification: “Grace be to you and peace,” it is a sanctifying peace. I Thessalonians 5:23 says, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul says, “sanctify you wholly,” that’s sanctifying peace. Every believer can have sanctifying peace, but every believer does not have sanctifying peace because his faith is in something else.
Let me explain to you how a believer can be sanctified. Number one: you can’t sanctify yourself. You cannot, I don’t care what you do. It’s something the church has wrestled with since I guess the time of the apostle Paul up until today—the ongoing process of believers trying to sanctify themselves by works that we conjure up. You can set about to read a hundred chapters in the Bible a day, you can say, “I’m going to pray twenty-five hours a day,” and I could go on and on with that litany, but you cannot sanctify yourself; it is impossible. Like the poor brother that I mentioned earlier—foolishness that men conjure up thinking that somehow this is going to get one victory over sin, but it won’t. And ladies and gentlemen, sin is the problem, it always is the problem.
Finis Jennings Dake, author of the Dake Bible, was with a group of preachers once, and they were talking about entire sanctification, and that denomination believed in that—entire sanctification—meaning that you go to the altars, and the Lord’s Spirit comes upon you, and then you will never sin again. I think they’ve just about abandoned that foolish doctrine, I never hear it mentioned anymore. Anyway, Dake was trying to tell them, “No, there’s no such thing as entire sanctification; it’s an ongoing process.” One of the men who was touting the entire sanctification doctrine got so angry that the other preachers had to restrain him and hold him because he was about to hit Dake. How could that preacher be entirely perfect? He was about to punch Dake in the nose!
Man’s problem is that he keeps trying to do what only God can do. So how am I sanctified? When you place your faith exclusively in Christ and what He did for you at the cross and maintain it there, the moment you do that you are instantly sanctified. But that doesn’t mean now that you’ll never sin again, and it doesn’t mean that Satan will never bother you again; it doesn’t mean that at all.
The Holy Spirit
Jesus Christ has already done it at Calvary’s cross. You might say, “Well there are problems in my life, how then can I be sanctified?” Ah, that’s a good question. The Holy Spirit, who is in your heart and in your life can now go to work and give you victory over those problems that beset you and made you struggle for so long without victory because your faith was in something else. But once your faith is in Christ and the cross, the Holy Spirit, who works exclusively within the parameters of the finished work of Christ (and He will not work outside of those parameters, which means that you and I have to have our faith exclusively in Christ and what He did at the cross), now has latitude. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2); it’s a law. Now, it’s not the Mosaic law; it’s a law devised by God, and it will function exactly as it was meant to function. And, once your faith is right in Christ, that means you are sanctified, and Jesus Christ has paid the price at Calvary’s cross.
You see, justification and sanctification are the two most important doctrines for the human race: Justification for the believing sinner that’s coming to Christ—the single most important thing in the world—“Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Gal. 3:6). And then, the second one, sanctification, is power over sin, and that’s the only way you’ll ever have victory over the sin nature, victory over sin. So that’s the most important thing for the child of God: sanctification.
And yet today it is so little understood that most churches don’t even mention it anymore. I would say that ninety-nine percent of all Christians have no idea what sanctification is. It means to be set apart from something—the spirit of the world—to something, which is the Spirit of God and that exclusively. But if they know that much, and that’s about all they know, as to how to be sanctified, they don’t have the foggiest idea. Period.
The biggest thing that the child of God really faces is sanctification. You say, “Well isn’t the cross the biggest doctrine? We use the word cross as a doctrine, but really it isn’t, it’s the foundation of all doctrine. All biblical doctrine is based on the foundation of the cross. Whenever you see false doctrine, if you trace it back enough, you’ll find out that it’s a wrong interpretation of the cross, a misinterpretation of the cross, an erroneous interpretation of the cross, or ignoring the cross—it all centers up in the cross of Christ; that’s where all false doctrine has its beginning.
The way the modern church is trying to overcome sin, if they even try at all, is by willpower or disciplines. Disciplines as in a person fasting so much or witnessing so much, and those are things that should be done, but none of that will bring you victory over sin. The old song says, “Victory over sin and purity within,” it won’t do it.
The Modern Church
The modern church has pretty well discarded all teaching regarding sanctification because they don’t understand it. I don’t believe the modern church really understands justification or sanctification. Churches today, including the Assemblies of God, the Church of God, the Foursquare, the Pentecostal Holiness, have, regrettably and sadly, adopted psychology as a means to deal with sin.
That’s because the church doesn’t recognize the power of sin. If it did, the church wouldn’t try to address sin with the foolishness that they use. Donnie was telling me of a young man here in Baton Rouge who was on drugs, and they put him in a church, and he mowed the yard and cleaned the restrooms—that was his “rehabilitation” program. And, regrettably, in a few days he went back on drugs and committed suicide, took his life.
This is the problem with the church, it either does not know God’s way, does not understand God’s way, or else does know it and chooses to reject it. And then they try to institute something of their own devising.
Galatians 1:4 says, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”
The Holy Spirit through Paul said, “Who gave himself for our sins.” He didn’t give Himself for us to learn how to present to the world a plan to do this, that, or the other. He gave Himself for our sins. Sin is the problem of mankind, ladies and gentlemen, and believe it or not, sin is the problem of the church. It’s the problem of the church, and there’s only one cure for it—only one remedy—and that is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
The crowning demand of the child of God is to rid him of sin, and the blood of Jesus Christ does that when a person accepts Christ as his Saviour. But we all know that Satan doesn’t wash his hands of that person, walk away, and say, “Well, he’s saved now, I can’t bother him anymore.”
The bottom line is this: Believers have got to come to grips with the sin in their lives. Satan is not going to give up easily, understand that. He is going to do everything he can to try to steal, kill, and destroy, and he does that with sin. And, friend, the only cure for sin is Jesus Christ and Him crucified; there is no other.