I must apologize. I started this thinking in a misleading place. By it’s self, sanctification will turn us into moral people. But, this is not what God really wants, and I now ask for forgiveness if I have lead people to believe that. Ravi Zacharius once said, “Jesus did not come to make sinners into moral people; Jesus came to make dead men alive!” After reading John 1:4-5 and 10:10-11, I tend to agree with him. As we continue to think over the good news we need to keep in mind what salvation is: giving life to dead people. So, I guess the place to begin would be with what we need saving from… namely ourselves.
I have long contended that sin is not *what* you do, rather it is *how* you are. Sin is a state of being separated from God; a place of standing if you will. Yes, there are certain actions that will move you into this state of existence (i.e. – sorcery, extramarital sex, same sex romance, idolatry, coveting, murder, un-honoring your parents, etc.), but these are symptoms of a nature that is separated from God, not merely deeds that God detests. Sanctification alone cannot deal with this situation; this is why sanctification is only truly present after justification. Otherwise, it is just broken people trying on morality.
We cannot ever hope to fix ourselves. This is what humanists strive for, why eastern mysticism wants to obliterate the self, what cosmic “new-age” -ism hopes for, and the very thing that Christ needs us to put down if we are to find life in Him. Jesus does not ask us to come to Him so that He can help us become successful, all-American people who are nice, have good families, a squeaky clean life, and are admired by all. Jesus came to heal any and all who would admit they were sick with sin and that He was there only hope.
As we discuss righteousness and godly living on “this side of the cross”, I fear we often forget Genesis 2:16-17. This is a reality that we cannot afford to lose sight of. It is all too easy to convince our selves that our sin nature means that we are just big screw ups. Its easy to delineate sinful actions as bad things that we can’t help but do. It’s easy to make this into only a moral issue. But this is an issue of life it’s self! The fact is that Adam and Eve *died* the very day they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What else could you call being separated from the source of life with out any way to reconcile the breach?
We are tripartite beings, meaning we are spirit, we are soul, and we are body. All three of these are essential to who we are. We are not just shells that house some eternal intelligence. God formed our bodies from the dust, breathed the breath (or spirit) of life into us, and we became a living soul (being). All was as it should be. Then our parents chose disobedience, ate from the tree, and broke right relationship with God. They stopped saying “yes” where God said “yes” and “no” where God said “no”. They took their lives and very beings away from their rightful owner and creator, God, and claimed their independence.
Now follow with me:
- -According to John 1 and John 5, God is the source of life.
–Independent means: 1)Not governed by a foreign power; self-governing. 2) Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others; self-reliant
– Therefore, having independence from God is freedom from dependence (or non-dependence) on the source of life.
- In all reality, Adam and Eve disconnected us all from the only source of life.
It is important to understand the different meanings conveyed by the word “life”. When I first came across this in chapter 2 of Watchman Nee’s The Spiritual Man, I found it immensely clarifying of the issue of spiritual death. The greek language has several words for life: bios, psyche, and zoe. Bios refers to the means of life or living. It is how we stay alive, what our body needs to remain healthy and functioning. This is the word used when Jesus speaks of the widow and her mite. Psyche speaks of the animated life of man, our natural life or the life of the soul. The Bible makes use of this term when it describes the human life. Zoe is the life of the spirit, and the Bible uses this word to speak of Eternal Life. Zoe life is what Adam and Eve cut themselves and their decedents off from when they chose sin.
Think on this: Adam and Eve did not drop dead the evening after their sin. In fact, God told Adam that from now on his means of living (bios) would have to be worked for . Our bodies might be degenerating, but they are still alive, animate, and functioning, as are our souls (psyche). The soul is give to us in the event of creation. Conception is a once per life time thing… you are not conceived more than once, ever. The soul is the seat of “I”. It is the real self, and “I” still exists, and will exist for eternity. “I” is who Jesus came to save. Zoe, however, is not given in an event. Spiritual life comes to us in an ongoing flow through right relationship (or right standing) with God. Jesus says in John 17, “This is eternal life (zoe), that they know You, the one true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Knowing here denotes an on-going, experiential, relationship in which we are known and go on knowing God. Think of it in terms of intimacy, much in the same way of Genesis 4:1, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife…”
So again, I say Zoe life is what Adam and Eve cut themselves and their decedents off from when they choose sin; and that is why sanctification is *not* a moral issue, but rather it is an issue of life. When we use christianise terms like “born again”, “regeneration”, and the like, we are speaking of re-connecting with the source of life, not learning to live according to some set of morals. Our only hope of finding life is to re-connect with God in right relationship. But we cannot do this on our own. For one thing, we are naturally sinful. It is not action or choice; it is our nature. C.S. Lewis put it in terms of having a bent nature, and to me this is an apt description. We were created to have a life that was directed toward and moving with our creator. Adam and Eve have marred that by birthing all of humanity into a disobedient, independent nature that is incapable of having the correct relationship with God. I want to be very clear on this, so please hear me well. We are not separated from God by the things we do. We are separated from God because of how we are, because of our very nature. On our own, we can never change how we are. We can no more change how we are than we could change into birds. It is impossible. Even if on our own we could somehow change how we are, our debt is still too great. As creator, God owns His creation. The problem is, we are born into the independence of our primeval parents. In essence, we are born into a life that has been usurped from its proper owner; we are born into rebellion. This is not just something simple God can over look. His very nature (Ex 34:5-7) gives us our definition of true justice, so for God to not require justice would be for God to cease being who He is. That would be the same as reality ceasing to be real. It is nonsense.
So we are left to either a hopeless existence that at best can be moral or to trust that God has provided a way. The good news is that God has made provision for us to have life again. He has made the way for how we are to be changed, and our debt to be paid. This is the foundation of the process of sanctification, and in this light sanctification can be seen for what it is: learning to live out the reality of our right standing (justification) with God through our faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.