Home > Systematic Theology > Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Blessings of Grace: Sanctification- Book Seventh- Chapter 3- Section 5

Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Blessings of Grace: Sanctification- Book Seventh- Chapter 3- Section 5

Book Seventh

CHAPTER III.

SECTION V.–SANCTIFICATION.

THE HOLY SPIRIT CONTINUES TO SANCTIFY THOSE WHOM HE HAS REGENERATED, AND FINALLY PREPARES THEM FULLY FOR THE HOLY SERVICE AND ENJOYMENT OF HEAVEN.[160]

Regeneration is the beginning of sanctification, but the work is not completed at the outset. A new affection is produced in the heart, but it does not govern without opposition. The love of the world, the love of self, and all the carnal appetites and passions, have reigned in the heart; and the power of habit gives them a controlling influence, which is not readily yielded. Hence arises the warfare of which every regenerate man is conscious: the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.[161] In this struggle, the carnal propensities often threaten to prevail, and they would prevail, if God did not give a supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. “Without me,” said Jesus, “ye can do nothing.”[162] If severed from the living vine, the branches are sapless, fruitless, dead. But “he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit;”[163] and the Spirit of life from Christ, the head, flows through all the members of his body, and gives and preserves their vitality. This Spirit in them lusteth against the flesh, and enables them to carry on their warfare, and gives them final victory: “He that hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”[164]

As in the beginning, so in the progress of the work, the Holy Spirit operates by direct and by indirect influence. The indirect influence is by means of the truth. With reference to this, the Saviour prayed: “Sanctify them through thy truth;”[165] and, with reference to it, the Scriptures connect “belief of the truth,” with “sanctification of the Spirit;”[166] and speak of the heart being purified by faith.[167] The direct influence fixes the affections on the truth; or, in the language of Scripture, “writes the law in the heart.”[168] The mode in which this direct influence is exerted, we cannot explain; but the result is, that the truth produces its proper effect, which otherwise it would fail to accomplish, through the depravity of the heart. Our carnal affections tend to shut out the truth from the heart; hence Christ said; “How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?”[169] While carnal affections tend to prevent the proper influence of the truth, the Spirit exercises an opposite influence, and “lusts against the flesh.” As this influence gives the word an efficacy which it would not otherwise possess, it is something superadded to the intrinsic power of the word. For this direct influence, the Psalmist prays: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law;”[170] and for this, the prayers recorded in the New Testament were offered: “Lord, increase our faith.”[171] “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”[172] This influence operated on the two disciples, when their understandings were opened, that they understood the Scriptures.[173] This influence is prayed for by every child of God, when, as he opens the Bible, he prays that what he is about to read, may be blessed to the good of his soul. And it is prayed for by the faithful minister of the gospel, and by every devout hearer, when at the beginning of a sermon, they ask God to make his truth effectual.

Besides the word of truth, the dispensations of Providence are used by the Holy Spirit, as means of sanctification. Afflictions are often blessed to the spiritual good of God’s people. David says: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now have I kept thy word.”[174] These afflictions are chastisements which our heavenly Father employs, to make us partakers of his holiness.”[175] In themselves, afflictions have no sanctifying efficacy, and many who are tried by them, are incited to greater hatred of God; but the Holy Spirit accompanies them to the believer with a sanctifying power, and uses them to wean his affections from the world, and fix them on God. When outward things either cease to give him enjoyment, or produce positive grief and pain, he finds within him a source of happiness, in the exercise of faith and hope in God. Hence, in his darkest hours, as to worldly prosperity, the believer sometimes finds his prospects of heaven most clear, and his foretaste of future blessedness most delightful.

[160] 2 Thess. ii. 13; 1 Pet. i. 2; 1 Cor. vi. 11; 2 Cor. iii. 18; Mal. iii. 3; Eph. v. 26; Tit. ii. 14; Prov. iv. 18; Phil. i. 6; 1 John iii. 2.

[161] Gal. v. 17.

[162] John xv. 5.

[163] 1 Cor. vi. 17.

[164] Phil. i. 6.

[165] John xvii. 17.

[166] 2 Thess. ii. 13.

[167] Acts xv. 9.

[168] Heb. x. 16.

[169] John v. 44.

[170] Ps. cxix. 18.

[171] Luke xvii. 5.

[172] Mark ix. 24.

[173] Luke xxiv. 45.

[174] Ps. cxix. 67.

[175] Heb. xii. 10.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

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