God has provided everything for the eternal salvation of every human being. Even if a person rejects the free gift of eternal life, God continues to love them. The difference is that unbelievers (those who do not place their faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation) are loved impersonally by God and believers are loved personally by God. (John 3:16; II Peter 3:9)
After salvation, a believer becomes part of God’s family and the result is personal love from God. Divine personal love sets up the potential for believers to be blessed while on earth. Blessing from God is never based on our worthiness apart from our union with Jesus Christ. Human merit or human effort cannot earn blessing from God regardless of a person’s sincerity. The only thing that merits blessing from God is His righteousness. Because believers possess God’s righteousness, they alone receive direct blessing from God. (Matthew 6:33; John 15:1-11; II Corinthians 5:21)
As with everything in the Christian life, believers must exercise their volition to reside in God’s power system and execute God’s plan, purpose and will. God demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son Jesus Christ to pay for our sin. Then, God demonstrated His love by sending the Holy Spirit to permanently indwell us. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit Who empowers us to glorify God in time by helping us with the execution of the Christian Way of Life. (John 14:26; 16:13-14)
Stage one of the Christian Way of Life is called Positional Sanctification. Stage two of the Christian Way of Life is called Experiential Sanctification. Stage three of the Christian Way of Life is called Ultimate Sanctification.
Sanctification is the Greek word “hagiasmos” and literally means separation unto God or to be set apart to God. It is the same Greek word used for saint and holy, in the Bible. Therefore, all believers are saints and all believers are holy. However, sanctification involves three truths and these truths must always be distinguished in order to accurately interpret the Word of God. The first is positional truth, the second is experiential truth and the third is ultimate truth. Each is a separate and distinct stage in the life of the believer.
God the Holy Spirit has placed us into union with Jesus Christ at salvation. This is accomplished by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is neither seen nor felt. It is a fact stated in the Word of God for us to believe. We must always distinguish between the indwelling, the baptism and the filling of the Holy Spirit. These are all separate and distinct ministries of the Holy Spirit. Once again, none of these ministries is seen nor felt. The indwelling is God the Holy Spirit permanently residing in the body of a believer. The baptism of God the Holy Spirit, as stated, is placing a believer into permanent union with Christ. And the filling of God the Holy Spirit is His control and guidance of a believer, which is temporary, depending on the volition (free-will) of the believer.
God’s own righteousness has been imputed (credited) to our account. This is the only way we can be set apart to God. We have been separated unto God by our faith in Jesus Christ. We have been given at least 40 spiritual assets, including the righteousness of God. Our position in Christ sets up the potential for us to execute the Christian Way of Life. (II Corinthians 5:21)
Our position in Christ and our walk with Christ must always be distinguished in order to avoid confusion and inaccurate interpretation of Scripture. When the Bible says that we are dead to sin, this is positional truth. When the Bible says to walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust (desire) of the flesh (sin nature), it is not referring to positional truth, but to experiential truth.
Even though we possess the righteousness of God, we will not realize the full aspect of this until we receive a glorified body at the Rapture. (I Corinthians 15:50-53) In the meantime, we still possess a sin nature which tempts us to commit personal sins. It is our responsibility as Christians to learn and apply the Word of God and to control our sin nature. We can do this only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
There is a war being waged within every believer. It is a battle to see who will control your soul. Each of us holds the key - it is called volition or free will. God did not make us robots. He gave us the freedom of choice.
In Greek, the word for “walk” is “stoicheo,” which means to walk in a straight line or in a row. If we are “walking in the Spirit,” our steps will align with God’s plan. In other words, we will allow the Holy Spirit to control “our steps.” Please remember that God is not an ogre waiting for us to fail so He can “zap” us. God loves us and wants only the best for us. Therefore, we should learn to love ourselves, which entails self-worth and self-respect. God in His grace is always there for us, even in times of our failure. Since God has compassion on us, we should have compassion on ourselves. Evaluate yourself, make the necessary corrections and move forward, one step at a time. Don’t spend time beating yourself up or condemning yourself because of some failure. (I John 1:6-10)
The desires of the flesh (sin nature) oppose the desires of God. They are contrary to one another. If you yield to one, it cancels the other. You are either 100% spiritual (controlled by the Holy Spirit) or you are 100% carnal (controlled by the sin nature) at any given time. Remember, the Christian Way of Life is about making the right choices.
If you are allowing the Holy Spirit to lead (guide) you, you are not under the control of the law. But what law? …the law of the flesh (sin nature). What is the law of the flesh? - “If it feels good, do it.”
Here we have a list of the works of the flesh. Let us remember that these verses are talking about believers. Both overt sins and mental attitude sins are mentioned.
Here we have a list of the works of the Holy Spirit, which can be produced in the life of the believer. Divine production is always a matter of right motivation, right power and right choices. All of these are produced by God the Holy Spirit, when He is allowed to control our thinking.
Positional sanctification is clearly stated here. The person who belongs to Christ has crucified the flesh (sin nature). However, the believer still possess a sin nature and still sins. So, this is an obvious reference to positional truth and it is only potential experientially.
Here we see experiential sanctification and application. Since we are positionally “in Christ,” we are to strive to make our daily experience align with our position in Christ!
All the truth of our position in Christ will be a reality when Christ returns for His Church.
We still reside in this body while here on earth, but our true home is Heaven. We are just passing through this life, but our real citizenship is in Heaven. When Christ returns for believers at the Rapture, we will realize Ultimate Sanctification.
For believers there is going to be a change. Each of us is going to receive a glorified body fashioned after Christ’s body. This will be an instantaneous change as we are being “caught up” to meet Christ in the air. (I Thessalonians 4:13-18
Ultimate sanctification will be a reality for all believers regardless of their spiritual status. Mature and immature believers will receive a glorified body and will spend all of eternity in perfect happiness. There will, however, be a loss of magnificent rewards and blessings for those who fail to execute God’s plan, purpose and will.