THE SANCTIFYING WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
18 APRIL 1993
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Corinthians 3:15
1 Peter 1:1-5
What is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit?
If you remember, during last week's sermon we talked about two types of power we receive from the Holy Spirit:
the first was resurrection power, which is the power to love unto forgiveness,
and the second was the power to believe unto obedience.
Well, the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is part of this packaged gift from God.
Do you remember what happened when Jesus was baptized by John?
Listen to what the Apostle John records in 1:32-34 concerning what John the Baptist said about this event.
32. And John [the Baptist] bore witness saying, "I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him [Jesus].
33. "And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.'
34. “And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Why was it important for the Holy Spirit to remain upon Jesus? After all, He was still God.
Because the power of the Holy Spirit gave Jesus the power to overcome the temptations that would be brought upon His earthly body as part of His ministry.
And that same power is given to all true believers; that is, all who are born again.
Listen to how Peter explains this in his first epistle. (1 Peter 1:1-5)
1. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen
2. according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.
Peter appears to be writing to people who are living in other lands, and perhaps his letter is meant to be sent to them. However, he may also be addressing those who are residing in his area, but who have been born in one of the countries he mentions.
At the same time, by use of the words “aliens” and “who are chosen” he is describing the true believers: those who have believed unto obedience and are no longer citizens of earthly nations, but are citizens of heaven.
Thus, a true believer in Jesus Christ is, in effect, an alien in his own land.
And that is the way it must be, for we are no longer to follow the ways of the world, but the ways and customs of God.
When this happens to us, we have been sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit within us.
The sprinkling of the blood of Jesus has washed our sins away, and the desire of our heart and soul is to sin no more, and to be obedient to the will of God.
Also, isn't this exactly what we pray for in The Lord's Prayer?
Since none of us in this room lives completely up to this expectation, though I do pray we sincerely try, we should very seriously consider the words of Paul to the Philippians. (Philippians 2:12-13)
12. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
13. for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Do we really understand the seriousness of being a half-hearted or weak Christian?
If we are not obedient to the Lord's desire, is the Holy Spirit within us?
I we still continue in the violent and blood thirsty ways of this world, and have little or no desire to bring peace to the earth for every human, animal, and the environment, is the Holy Spirit within us?
And if the Holy Spirit is not within us, then we are not born again, and we are not saved, and we are not going to heaven.
Are you beginning to feel a little singed?
I believe we need to feel this way a little more often, to remind us of the way we should be living.
In Mark 9:49-50, this singed feeling is what Jesus was talking about, after telling of the fires of hell:
49. "For everyone will be salted with fire.
50. "Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
The Holy Spirit brings about a burning in our heart, so that we know the difference between right and wrong, and the difference between living with love and compassion for all of God's creation, or of living for personal gain where killing and cruelty are part of life.
This is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, and when we allow Him to do so in our own lives, and are obedient, we have peace, for we know we have received His grace and mercy, just as Peter prayed for the people to whom he was writing.
But before we turn back to Peter's letter, note what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:15.
15. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.
If you're a believer, and you're not living as you know God wants you to live, and you're having a hard time with your life, and your life keeps falling apart, as if consumed by fire, consider this last passage as being for you.
Why not get out of the fire and enjoy the life God has given you? But at the same time, obey the Lord's whisper in your ear and the tug on your heartstring.
Now, with this new commitment to live our lives for the Lord, receive the full measure of the blessing Peter describes, as we continue with his first letter. (Peter 1:3-5)
3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4. to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5. who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Now, to really consider what the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is all about, we must first understand the sanctification process.
To sanctify anything is to clean it up in such a way that it becomes acceptable in the presence of God.
When it comes to us, we must be sanctified if we are going to enter heaven.
According to the Bible, those who are not sanctified go to hell, because their sins are not washed away.
Some people play at salvation like they would play the game of Monopoly.
They keep going around and around in their lives, passing the starting place of salvation over and over again, collecting their $200, as it were, each time, but never investing it in the cleaning up of their lives or in the peacemaking work of the Lord.
Then, one day they land on the "go to jail" square, and the message is, "Go to hell; go directly to hell. You can no longer pass the starting place of salvation. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is no longer available to you."
As Peter is saying, it is God's great mercy that has given us opportunity after opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to work within us, to clean us up, and make us presentable to the Lord, as a new creature in Christ.
In essence, if we will just allow the Holy Spirit to work within us, we will receive a new spiritual birth that brings to us a living hope of our own resurrection, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ with whom we share the inheritance of heaven.
And all through our lives here on earth, we will be protected by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is really a simple process: We only have to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive His baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then allow the Holy Spirit to do His good work within us.
And as He does His work, purifying us from all unrighteousness, we are to do our part by continuing in the new life He sets before us.
This is believing unto obedience.
This is allowing the Holy Spirit to do His sanctifying work with us.
This is living in true love and compassion, feeling both the pain and joy of every other living creature, and working to make their lives even better.
This is the beginning of our journey to heaven.
Your Comments are welcome
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