The Hope of Grace-induced Holiness

We must look to our justification, that is, we must look at what Christ has done for us, for any hope of progressing in what Christ is doing in us

“It is imperative that we realize our complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit.  We must not forget, of course, that our activity is enlisted to the fullest extent in the process of sanctification.  But we must not rely upon our own strength of resolution or purpose.  It is when we are weak that we are strong.  It is by grace that we are being saved as surely as by grace we have been saved. 

 

The following paragraph is found in John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied, in the chapter on sanctification.  We must look to our justification, that is, we must look at what Christ has done for us, for any hope of progressing in what Christ is doing in us.

“It is imperative that we realize our complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit.  We must not forget, of course, that our activity is enlisted to the fullest extent in the process of sanctification.  But we must not rely upon our own strength of resolution or purpose.  It is when we are weak that we are strong.  It is by grace that we are being saved as surely as by grace we have been saved.  If we are not keenly sensitive to our own helplessness, then we can make the use of the means of sanctification the minister of self-righteousness and pride and thus defeat the end of sanctification.  We must rely not upon the means of sanctification but upon the God of all grace.  Self-confident moralism promotes pride, and sanctification promotes humility and contrition” (p. 183).

Finally, read Martin Luther’s reflection on this glorious Gospel truth as he expounds from the Letter to the Romans.

“God’s righteousness humbles us, casts us down before his feet and causes us to long for his righteousness; for as soon as we receive it through faith in Christ, we glorify as its generous Giver and we praise and love Him….If we confess that we have no power over our sins to cleanse ourselves of our sins, He justifies us through faith in His Word (the Gospel promise).  Through such faith He justifies us, that is, He declares us as righteous (for Christ’s sake).  This is the faith-righteousness and a truly divine righteousness, which He works in us.” Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, pg. 68 (Rom. 3:5-8)

Isn’t this a great way to explain Paul’s exhortation to live by the Spirit?  I especially like Murray’s line that says we have been saved by grace and are being saved by grace.  Justification is by grace alone; so is sanctification. In Paul’s terms, it is foolish to think we’ve started the Christian life by the Spirit but we reach the goal by our own strength (Gal. 3.3).

Todd Douglas Baucum is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Enterprise, Ala.

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