Living in the Two Hearts

My Spiritual Insights and Musings

Archive for August, 2008

Sin & Redemption Part IV: Sanctification

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on August 10, 2008

Whew!  Who knew Romans had so much depth?  We’re only really skimming the surface!  A quick recap of what we’ve covered thus far…

Sin entered the world through man’s disobedience.  Sin brought death – both a spiritual death and a physical death (Hebrew Translation: “death death”).  With this also came disharmony between man and nature, man and man, man and God.  We became wounded and in need of healing.

In the fullness of time, God sent His only Son to be a living sacrifice, to die for the sin of mankind.  It is because of Christ’s obedience that life was restored, friendship between God and man was restored, and all things were made new.  God became man, taking on human flesh, dieing for our sins, and restoring us to new life.

Because of this act of Obedience and Love, WE WERE MADE RIGHTEOUS.  Through baptism we were crucified with Christ, buried, and raised anew by the glory of the Father that we too might walk in newness of life (cf Rom 6:4b).  Our old self no longer lives so that we are no longer slaves to sin (cf 6:6), We have been brought from death to life, and as such we are God’s instruments of righteousness (cf 6:13b).  Sin has not dominion over us, since we are not under law but under grace. (cf. 6:14).  Sanctification!: to be made holy, set apart for God’s purposes.  A gift from God infused into our hearts. His PERFECT MERCY.

This is where we begin today: Sanctification!
1) Sanctification, what is it?
2) When does it occur?
3) How does it affect me?

Again, one at a time, let us answer each in turn.

Sanctification is actually something that goes back to our primary existence, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... (Gen 1:26).  Continuing on with Noah, Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord…”Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this Generation.(Gen 6:8; 7:1).  And again with Abram (Abraham), “And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing… Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them… So shall your descendants be”… and [Abram] reckoned it to [God] as righteousness (Gen 12:2; 15:5b,6).  Expanding that with Moses and the nation of Israel, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob… I have seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt…and I have come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians… You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between Me and you… that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you Exodus 3:7, 8; 31:13).

This perfection of the ongoing Sanctification of God’s people comes to a head when God becomes man.  Sanctification is made perfect in the God-Man, Jesus Christ.  Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to HImself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation; 2 Cor 5:17-18.

Sanctification made perfect in the God-Man, Jesus Christ, is then carried out to His Body by the Holy Spirit, For you did not receive the spirit o f slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship.  When we cry, Abba!  Father!  it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God… ~Romans 8:15-16

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of His own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification. ~ CCC 1999

Received in Baptism!  Remember… way back when … I began this series with a post “So I was at this conference…” ?   Well, in it I address Baptism and its significance with us, as we are baptized into the death of Christ which also means that we are baptized into His Resurrection and the newness of life, as given to us from the Father (cf Romans 6:3-4).  Go figure that Sanctification would go all the way back to Baptism?  But that’s precisely how it works!

When does Sanctifying grace occur?

At the moment we are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we are washed,… sanctified,… justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (cf 1Cor 6:11).  We are BOTH Sanctified AND Justified simultaneously (Good Theology), which means in a nutshell, that:

Sanctifying grace is a habitual gift, a stable and super-natural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by His love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God’s call… ~CCC 2000

Okay.  So, how does this affect me? This next part is probably the most perfect demonstration of how God’s Ways are not our ways.

God’s free initiative demands man’s free response. ~ CCC 2002

When God gives us this gift, He expects our response… He demands our response BUT He DOES NOT FORCE our response.  His Ways are not our ways.  Remember the key :  Listen and Respond… If you give someone a gift, don’t you expect them to respond with something like, “thank you” ?  And if they don’t, we pursue the issue until they do… don’t we?  We pretty much force a response.  God does not.  His patience is limitless!  However, your time on this earth, is not.  God will wait for you, but you might not wait for Him.

… for God has created man in His image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know Him and love Him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only He can satisfy. ~ CCC 2002

By accepting God and His free gift of  Sanctifying grace, we become even more intimately connected with Christ than we were at our Baptism by the power of the Holy Spirit and in our cooperation with Him:

Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with His work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church… Whatever their character… charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church. ~ CCC 2003; LG 12; 1Cor 12

This is why St. Paul was more than correct when he claimed, I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. ~Gal 2:20

So much more true is it for us!  We have received deification in that the Divine life now indwells within us.  We have received a Divine Adoption, and are called by the Father as sons and daughters.  But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.  If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus … will give life to your mortal bodies… For all who are lead by the Spirit of God are sons [and daughters] of God. ~ Romans 8:9, 11, 14; cf 2 Cor 6:18

Listen and Respond.  This truth resounds over and over again.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us:

Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved.  However, according to the Lord’s words – “Thus you will know them by their fruits~CCC 2005; James 2:14-17

Or as St. Paul remarked to Titus, but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

The saying is sure.  I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds; these are excellent and profitable to men.  But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. … a man who is factious, … is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned. ~ Titus 3:4-10, 11

Good Advise.

Summary: Justification is the declaration of God that removes sin and re-establishes us as sons and daughters of God, by grace and through our baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ, the Divine Son, He bestows on us His divine nature, Sanctifying us and indwelling within us.  This is the PERFECT GIFT of God given to us: HIS PERFECT MERCY!  Merited not by us, but by Christ who was obedient, obedient even unto death, death on a cross (cf Phil 2:8).

Listen (shema) and Respond! He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. ~ Rev 2:29

For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, no principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separated us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39

Re-visit and refresh as needed : 🙂
Sin & Redemption Part I : Romans 5 & 6
Sin & Redemption Part II : Fulfilling Gen 3:15
Sin & Redemption Part III : Justification

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Sin & Redemption Part III… Justification

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on August 7, 2008

Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude [correctness] of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us. ~CCC 1991

“Ecumenically, this is a great commonality we have with our separated brethren.” ~ Curtis Mitch

This part on Justification is courtesy of Curtis Mitch, who asked these three questions:

1) What is Justification?
2) How are we justified?
3) What kind of response is needed from us to God who justifies us through His Son?

Let’s begin with question one and work our way up.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals. ~ CCC 1990

So, justification depends on God’s Love, His Mercy, and His forgiveness of the iniquity (sin) of mankind in order to reconcile man with God AND to free man from his slavery to sin.  Thus, Justification IS Freedom, Mercy, Love, and Forgiveness.  Gee, isn’t that the same thing that God has offered His people with each new covenant?  And if so, then the perfection of this covenant has to have been achieved in Jesus Christ whose Love for mankind brought about man’s Freedom from the result of sin (death), by pouring out His Mercy and Forgiveness so that we may “be saved by Him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son…” ~ Rom 5:9,10 (cf Jn 15:12; Lk 23:34; 1Peter 1:3).

How are we Justified?  By Christ and His obedience, nothing more, nothing less. Paul tells us, “Just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.” ~ Rom 5:18

Which means all who accept Christ are brought into His righteousness, just as we are brought into His death and resurrection at the time of our baptism (cf Rom 6:3-4), thus this righteousness is different from the “everyday virtue” in that it is infused and not obtained by our own merits, but by the merit of Christ’s obedience “grafted” onto us:

…In order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God… ~ Phil 3:8b-9

This, my friends, is Pure Mercy on the part of God.” ~ Curtis Mitch

It’s available to all who will come to Him with their hearts open and yearning, ready to receive forgiveness of their sins, Let it be known to you therefore, brethren, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him every one that believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. ~ Acts 13:38-39

Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.  For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:6-9

Did you know, the definition of con-version is: the turning of oneself towards God, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a “contrite heart”, drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first. ~ CCC 1428.

That brings us nicely into the answer of the third question: What must we do to respond to this free gift offered to us by God through the obedience of His Son?  Are you ready? …  Really? … Here it is, the “magic formula”…

Listen AND Respond.

The Hebrew word “to listen” is Shema – and its implication includes a response that is required to complete the process of Listening to the word of God.  What did Jesus say at the beginning of His public ministry?  We read, “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.'” ~Mark 1:15; Mt 4:17; cf Luke 4:43

However, this Listen AND Respond, this Repent AND Believe doesn’t happen just once. No, it is on-going!  What do you mean it’s on-going?  If I accept Jesus into my heart, isn’t that enough?  Well, let me ask you this.  If you were baptized as an adult, do you still sin?  I’m guessing the answer would be “Yep”

I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. ~Rom 7:15, 18b-19.

Therefore, constant repentance and the seeking of forgiveness for our sins is the daily life of a real Christian, that is someone who not only accepted Jesus into their hearts once, but accepts Jesus into their hearts every day, hour, and minute!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man“. ~ CCC 1989

How is that renewal to happen when your still stuck in your sinfulness?

Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom.  On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent: ~ CCC 1993

Can you have freedom if you are still enslaved to your sinful lusts and desires?

Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, “clasping sinners to her bosom, [is] at once holy and always in need of purification, [and] follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.” ~CCC 1428; cf LG 8:3

Repent!  The Kingdom of God is at hand.  What part of “Repent”do we not understand?

Justification is the most excellent work of Gods love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. ~ CCC 1994

The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the “inner man,” justification entails the sanctification of his whole being… ~ CCC 1995; cf Rom 7:22; Eph 3:16.

Or as St. Paul tells us, “When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Rom 6:20-23

Justification entails the sanctification of the whole being … guess that’s our next topic, huh?  Justification from the forgiveness of our sins, as merited to us by Jesus the Christ, who died for our sins, also Sanctifies us – makes us holy and set apart for the work of God.

It’s a constant movement here, folks.  Constant need for con-version (turning towards God) by repenting of our sins, always seeking His promise of everlasting life.  Remember what Jesus said, Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'” ~Rev 3:19-22

Next Post: Sanctification and the part it plays in Sin & Redemption… Part IV

Need a refresher course?  Sin and Redemption Part I
Sin and Redemption Part II

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