On the Plains of Moab Blog
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June 18, 2011, 6:43 AM

Do You Feel Sanctified?

Well, we've left Deuteronomy and the Old Testament (at least in the pulpit!) for the time being.  We move now to the book of James for a couple of weeks before we begin another 7-UP series in Hebrews.  The focus this Sunday will be on sanctification.  My first introduction to this word came in 1977 through the Commodores.  "I feel sanctified!"  Had no earthly idea what the word meant then -- but liked the song anyway.

The word means becoming holy.  In other words, becoming more Christ-like.  Theologically, it goes like this:  From the time we recieve Christ (justification), we are then in a life-long process of being made holy (sanctification) until the day we stand before the Lord in glory (glorification).  Even though God is the one doing the work on us, we still expend much sweat in the process.  This sweat is where James comes in.  Martin Luther really detested the book.  He called it famously "a right strawy epistle."  He didn't even recognize it as belonging in the Scriptures.  You see, he found it too heavy in the area of works-righteousness.  He just couldn't reconcile Paul's heavenly "saved by grace through face apart form works" with James sulfur-laced "if someone says he has faith but does not have works -- can that faith save him? (No way, Jose!)"

Unfortunately, Luther didn't make the connection that Paul starts at the beginning, while James picks up a little later (post-justification) and defines what that saving faith looks like.  Surely,we are not in any way, shape or form saved by our works; but neither are we saved from works.  James, I believe, was just following up on and applying his half-brother's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.  There are multiple parallels in James' teaching with Jesus in his famous sermon.

When it comes down to it, we are called to growing pains right out of the starting gate.  It never gets easier -- just sweeter.  Which brings me to the last thing I want to say before tomorrow:  I am not going to be taking the easy way out tomorrow.  So many preachers, when they come to this text (James 1:1-8) like to water down the message.  To make it easier.  To make it more plausible.  I am not going to do that!

See you tomorrow.

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