The Believer a Saint by Position
So the Word of God answers the above questions by showing us that sanctification is primarily a change in position and secondarily but of necessity a change in condition.
God tells us very plainly when, where and how the children of Israel were sanctified.
Numbers 8:17, “For all the first-born of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast; on the day that I smote every first-born in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.”
Lev. 11:45, “For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
By the blood of the Paschal lamb they were redeemed in Egypt and set apart as a people for God’s own possession. By the cross of the Red Sea they were redeemed from Egypt and separated from other people for the Lord’s use. Even during the wilderness wanderings in which there was much of murmuring and rebellion they were, as far as their position before God was concerned, a sanctified people.
Just so the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ marks the place of the believer’s sanctification; the blood of the Lamb of God is the means; and the moment in which the sinner puts his faith in that atoning blood for salvation marks the time.
Hebrews 10:10, “by the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Hebrews 13:12, “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered with the gate.”
Acts 26:18, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
God never acts apart from Christ. Everything that God does whether in creation or salvation He does through His Son. And everything that God does in Christ for man’s salvation He begins at the Cross. So our sanctification begins there. At the Cross the sinner becomes a saint. Every believer has been set apart for God’s own possession and use by the sacrifice of His Son. The believer is a saint by position. As in justification the guilty sinner is accounted righteous through the blood of the Cross so in sanctification the defiled sinner is accounted holy. By the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ he “hath been perfected once for all.” In this objective aspect sanctification is absolute and complete. Christ Himself and Christ alone is our sanctification.
Hebrews 10:14, “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
1 Corinthians 1:30, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
Thus we see that sanctification in this aspect is not “a second work of grace” at some time subsequent to conversion; nor a result of any act of consecration or faith on the part of the believer; but that it takes place through God’s first and initial work of grace – the death of His Son – and is simultaneous with justification and regeneration. “The primary and fundamental idea of sanctification is neither as achievement nor a process, but a gift, a divine bestowal of of a position in Christ.”
In this positional aspect of sanctification all believers share equally: the youngest, weakest, and most immature is as truly and as much sanctified as the oldest, strongest and most spiritual Christian.
This fact we see in the spiritual history of the Corinthian Christians as given in Paul’s epistles. These letters were written to rebuke and correct gross sins, outstanding evils, even fearful immoralities in the Corinthian church yet the Apostle writes to them as those that have been sanctified, those who are “holy in Christ.” While he tells them that he cannot write unto them as unto spiritual but rather as unto carnal Christians yet he calls them saints. Even though they are still in the wilderness as regards spiritual experience yet he considers them a people separated unto God for His possession and use. it is because they have been so set apart and given such an exalted position that he reproves them for their unholy condition.
1 Corinthians 1:2, ” Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, both theirs and ours.”
Their position as sanctified ones is the basis of his appeal for a corresponding condition of life. He reminds them that “fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, drunkards, and revilers, shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), and then frankly says, “and such were some of you” in the old sphere when you were wholly separated unto sin and wholly separated from God. But it is all different now for “you are sanctified” and are thereby set apart unto God. Therefore your condition should correspond with your position. You were once in the devil’s possession and use but now you are set apart unto God for His possession and use. You are saints; therefore live like saints.
1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Are you a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? Then you are a saint. Have you put your trust for salvation in Christ’s shed blood? Then you are sanctified and set apart as one belonging wholly and only unto God. Are you “a new creation in Christ Jesus”? Then you are also “a saint in Christ.”
(continued with # 3 – “The Believer a Saint by Condition”)