Results of Sanctification
What are the results of sanctification? Is there a purpose in the suffering, growing, trials, difficulties, falls, bumps, and bruises? Is there a reason for the soul-wrenching and heart-aching struggle to hate sin, wrestle the flesh to submission, be in the world but not of the world, and focus entirely on God when everything battles for our attention and affections? It is for a purpose. Sanctification is very difficult, but the end result is definitely worth the effort.
Glory to God
First, a believers sanctification is for the glory of God. Anything else would be idolatry. When we struggle with sin, when we become more like Christ through suffering and pain, God is exalted. How? Our sanctification magnifies his grace, we learn dependence, our prayer life is strengthened, faith is increased, we witness for Christ, and God uses us and our circumstances for the comfort and benefit of others- all for his praise!
God is glorified in other ways. Our sanctification results in good works which honor God. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1Pet. 4:10-11).
When Christians bear spiritual fruit God is glorified. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (Jn. 15:8). “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thess. 1:11-12).
Being united as believers also brings honor to the Lord. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:6). God is magnified when his children live pure lives. “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1Cor. 6:20). When believers do the works of God and live life with the proper motives, God is glorified. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Cor. 10:31). And the Lord is worshiped by testimonies of his grace. “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others...” (2Cor. 9:12-13). “And they glorified God because of me” (Gal. 1:24).
Another result of sanctification is Christlikeness. The goal of sanctification is the glory of God by our transformation into the image of the blessed Son. This is the plan of God for our salvation. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29).
We were saved in order to become like Christ. Believers are slowly being transformed into the likeness of Christ. The Spirit does his work and we: suffer well, learn, grow, mortify sin, act righteously, talk purely, think properly, worship consistently, walk in holiness, etc. “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” (2Cor. 3:18).
Sanctification never ends in this life because of our sinful flesh. However, believers know, trust, and anticipate seeing Christ and becoming fully like him. We long for the day when we will see Christ as he is and rid ourselves of this body of sin! Our sanctification will be complete and we will be glorified. “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1Jn. 3:2-3).
Another result of a believer's sanctification is spiritual fruit. The Holy Spirit works in our spirits to produce fruit for the glory of God, our continued sanctification, and the good of others. Some of these fruits are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
A result of the the Spirit's work is that we grow in love. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). “...So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith---that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17-19). “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2). “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14). “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1Tim. 6:11). “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1Jn. 4:16).
Another fruit that is born in believers is joy. “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance...” (Rom. 5:3). “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). “Rejoice always...” (1Thess. 5:16). “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (Jms. 1:2-4). “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1Pet. 1:8-9). “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1Pet. 4:12-13).
The Spirit bears peace within the hearts of believers. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all” (2Thess. 3:16).
Believers grow in patience as a result of being sanctified. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). “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” (Eph. 4:1-3). “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1Thess. 5:14).
The Spirit of God works kindness in the lives of believers. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10). “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience...” (Col. 3:12). “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” (2Pet. 1:5-7).
Another fruit produced in believers is goodness. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1Tim. 6:18-19). “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Heb. 13:16).
Faithfulness is generated in the heart's of God's children. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1Cor. 15:58). “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1Pet. 5:6-11).
Gentleness is still another fruit that the Spirit bears in the souls of believers. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). “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” (Eph. 4:1-3). “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Tit. 3:1-2).
When a believer is growing more like Christ, self-control will grow with him. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions” (Rom. 6:12). “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” (2Pet. 1:5-7).
These are the results of God's glorious work in the hearts, lives, and souls of his children. This is the fruit of sanctification. Believers become more like Christ by growing in holiness, purity, and righteousness. Believers become less like themselves fleeing from sin, temptation, the wiles of the evil one, and the entrapments of the world. Less like our sinful selves and more like Christ- that is the doctrine of sanctification in a nutshell.
Believers must be growing. If they are not growing, then they are dying. It is the role of the Spirit to see to it that we grow and mature in Christ. God cannot fail. He saved us and he will sanctify us. One magnificent day, all Christians will be glorified and presented to the Father. Christ's bride will be made perfect. We will be beautiful, without spot, blemish free, pure, and chaste. We will be holy as God is holy. Finally!
That day cannot come quick enough. In the meantime, we have work to do. Be more like Christ. Grow more into his image every day. With the aid of the Spirit, put on Christ and walk in him.