Participatory Sanctification

Whether you have been a Christian for five days or fifty years, sanctification remains a foundational reality in the life of the believer. Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit conforms a broken sinner to the image of Christ. At the moment of salvation the new believer is made positionally righteous and seated with Christ in the heavenlies.  Through the process of sanctification the Holy Spirit aligns us practically with what has already become true of us positionally.  Though we are positionally righteous in Jesus, we are still practical messes.  We are sinners who until we stand before Jesus in glory, are unfortunately still encased in sinful flesh. This poses a problem. This is why we need the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit of God can take what was dead and raise it to new life again.  In Ezekiel 36:26-27 God says,

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

We have been given a new heart, a new nature and it is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to walk according to the newness of life that we have been given. The Holy Spirit reshapes the desires of our heart, and sanctifies sinful areas of our lives so that we might be holy like Jesus is holy. As we become more and more like Christ, the Holy Spirit will constantly reveal new areas of sin in our lives so that these areas can be brought under the authority of God, and through the sanctification process, transformed for His glory. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit to make us new. The Christian has a role in this process as well though.

God calls us to partner with Him in His mission of renewal and restoration. Externally this takes the form of ministering the love of Christ to broken humanity. Internally this takes the form of presenting ourselves to the Lord so that His Spirit can sanctify us. The Apostle Paul outlines the role that the Christian plays in the process of sanctification in Romans 6:19.

For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”

The Spirit will convict the Christian of areas of sin within their life, however it is up to the Christian to submit that area to the sanctifying power of the Spirit. We bring our brokenness before the Lord and allow Him to have His way in our life, and slowly He transforms us from glory to glory.

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About Brandon Cantello

Husband to Nicole, Lover of God, Dependent on the Spirit, Passion for His Church. My name is Brandon. I love Jesus. For more visit My Blog

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5 Comments on “Participatory Sanctification”

  1. Jenkins Says:

    great post! i have been so blessed by you lately bro.

    i wanna hear some dialogue about where God induced proactive effort might play a role in it though. I am completely in agreeance with what you’re saying and echo it a million times…but i wouldn’t put PROACTIVE effort empowered by the Spirit by grace and submission to the Spirit in different categories would you?

    A little food for response…

    “In efficacious grace we are not merely passive, nor yet does God do some and we do the rest. But God does all, and we do all. God produces all, we act all. For that is what produces, viz. [namely] our own acts. God is the only proper author and fountain; we only are the proper actors. We are in different respects, wholly passive and wholly active.” -Jonathan Edwards

    “One great paradox of the Christian life is that we are fully responsible for our Christian growth and at the same time fully dependent upon the Holy Spirit to give us both the desire to grow and the ability to do it. God’s grace does not negate the need for responsible action on our part, but rather makes it possible.” -Jerry Bridges

    love how you think and write and talk and all that.


    • Brandon Cantello Says:

      Haha I love you homie! Those quotes by Edwards and Bridges are so good! I completely agree with you in regards to God induced proactive effort. When we talk about the providence of God though, we have to be careful to do so without throwing out the causality of man.

      Example: If I chose to pick up my phone, lift my arm, and place it to my ear, it is I who do it. However, if God is sovereign over all things, we must agree that I would not be able to accomplish this apart from the providence of God allowing me to do so.

      A more spiritual example: At the point of salvation, in it’s simplest terms, a person chooses to follow Christ. They would not have been able to do so however if the Father had not first chose them in Christ before the foundations of the world. (Ephesians 1:4)

      Sanctification is similar. Choosing to submit to the sanctifying work of the Spirit is a choice grounded in human causality (see the verse in Romans from the above blog) made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

      Yet it is still a choice. The actions of the Holy Spirit are not controlling like a puppet master with a marionette. Instead He makes Himself available to us in such a capacity that we have all that we need to, if we so choose, submit our members to sanctification instead of to the lustful desires of the flesh.


  2. Steve Austin Says:

    Good grief..what an awesome blog! And then to read the dialogue between you and Jenkins–wow! Love it! Let’s all have (cyber?) coffee sometime and chat! This is what that whole ‘iron sharpening iron’ thing is about, eh?!

    Keep up the good work.


    • Brandon Cantello Says:

      Thanks Steve! I’m glad this post spoke to you. I hope everything is going well for you over at The ATTIC. Virtual coffee and iron sharpening sounds like a good time. I love a good roundtable. Hopefully we can make it happen at some point in the future!


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