Friday, June 17, 2011

Christ and Sanctification

I know of some who are in deep affliction today, and reading this last night made me think of them, and long for the day when all of our tears will be wiped away and oh! no more of this breaking and hurting and faint-weary heart ache.

(this is right long, but where to cut it short? Such precious words from Octavius Winslow, and thinking of those just hurting today, and my heart hurting with them...just wanting to pour in this balm. So might you bare with all the words today and drink in the comfort? And oh, for those aching, (no doubt you know some, too, maybe you are one?) might you just offer up some heart-longing words to that great throne of grace? Thank you.)

Christ and Sanctification

"By simple, close, and searching views of the cross of Christ, the Spirit most effectually sanctifies the believer....

The intercession of our Lord Jesus pleads for and secures the sanctification of the believer. In this sense, it may be said that He is 'made of God unto us sanctification.' The Christian reader may be but imperfectly aware how closely connected is every spiritual grace and blessing that he receives with the advocacy of Jesus at the right hand of God. (Lord, increase our faith in this great and sanctifying truth!) While yet upon earth, our dear Lord commenced that work of intercession for the sanctification of the church, which He ascended up on high more fully to carry on. This was the burden of His prayer; and it forms, as John Owen observes, 'the blessed spring of our holiness'–'Sanctify them through thy truth' (John 17:17). And not only would He leave it, as it were, as a model of the intercession of His exalted priesthood, but for our encouragement He would provide an evidence of its success. To Peter, about to pass through a sever temptation, He says, 'I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not' (Luke 22:32). Nor did his faith fail. It was sifted, it was severely shaken, it was powerfully tried, but it failed not! Not a particle of the pure gold was lost in the refining, not a grain of the pure wheat in the sifting. Why?–because Jesus had interceded, and His intercession was all-prevailing. O the vast and costly blessings that flow into the soul from the intercession of Christ! Never shall we know the full extent of this until we pass within the veil. We shall then know the secret of our spiritual life, of all our supports, consolations, and victories: why it was that the spark in the ocean was not quite extinguished, why the vessel in the storm and amid the breakers did not quite become a wreck; why, when temptations assailed, crosses pressed, afflictions overwhelmed, and unbelief prevailed, our faith still did not fail and our [little boat] was not driven from its moorings; and that 'out of the depths' (Psalm 130:1), we were enabled to cry, 'Thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ' (II Corinthians 2:14). The secret will then disclose itself–the intercession of Jesus our great High Priest.

How sweet and consoling to the believer is this view of our exalted Immanuel in the hour of bereavement, when confined to his chamber of solitude, or languishing upon his bed of 'pining sickness' (Isaiah 38:12). Too deeply absorbed in sorrow, it may be, to give utterance to his anguished spirit in prayer–His bodily frame so weakened by disease and racked by pain as to render the mind unfit for close and connected spiritual thought–O how sweet the intercession of Jesus is then! How sweet to know that in the hour of the soul's extremity when human sympathy and power are exhausted, Jesus has entered into heaven 'now to appear in the presence of God' (Hebrews 9:24) for His suffering child. And when all utterance has failed on earth, when the heart is broken and the lips are sealed, then to look up and see our elder Brother, the Brother born for our adversity, the exalted High Priest waving the golden censer before the throne while the cloud of His atoning merit goes up before the mercy-seat, bearing as it ascends the person, the name, the circumstances, and the wants of the sufferer belowprecious Gospel that opens to the eye of faith so sweet a prospect as this! When you cannot think of Him, afflicted soul, He is thinking of you. When you cannot pray to Him, He is praying for you, for "He liveth to make intercession' (Hebrews 7:25). But our Lord Jesus is the sanctification of the believer in still another and blessed sense.

View Him as the Head of all mediatorial fullness to His people. 'It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell' (Colossians 1:19). 'And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace' (John 1:16). Here is sanctification for the believer who is mourning over the existence and power of indwelling sin, feeling it to be his greatest burden and the cause of his deepest sorrow. In the growing discovery of the hidden evil–each successive view, it may be, deeper and darker than the former–where is he to look but unto Jesus? Where can he fly, but to His cross? Hemmed in on every side by a host of spiritual Philistines, no avenue of escape presenting itself, the eternal Spirit leads the soul to a simple view of Jesus, opens to him the vast treasury of His grace, and the free welcome to all comers. And what does he find in that fullness? All that he wants to pardon sin, to hide deformity, to overcome unbelief, and [to] break the power of strong corruption; he finds that there is enough in Christ to make him holy, that, in simply taking his sins to Jesus, they are pardoned; in taking his strong infirmities, they are subdued; in taking his wants, they are supplied. In a word, he finds Christ to be his 'wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption' (Colossians 1:30).

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