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Sanctification – William Ames

April 11, 2010

1. The real change of state is an alteration of qualities in man himself. 2 Cor. 5:17, Old things have passed away; all things are new.

2. The change is not in relation or reason, but in genuine effects seen in degrees of beginning, progress, and completion. 2 Cor. 4:16, The inner man is renewed day by day.

3. This alteration of qualities is related to either the just and honorable good of sanctification, or the perfect and exalted good of glorification. Rom. 6:22, You have your fruit in holiness and your end in everlasting life.

4. Sanctification is the real change in man from the sordidness of sin to the purity of God’s image. Eph. 4:22-24, Put off that which pertains to the old conversation, that old man, corrupting itself in deceivable lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Put on that new man who according to God is created to righteousness and true holiness.

5. Just as in justification a believer is properly freed from the guilt of sin and has life given him (the title to which is, as it were, settled in adoption), so in sanctification the same believer is freed from the sordidness and stain of sin, and the purity of God’s image is restored to him.

6. Sanctification is not to be understood here as a separation from ordinary use or consecration to some special use, although this meaning is often present in Scripture, sometimes referring to outward and sometimes to inward or effectual separation. If this meaning is taken, sanctification may relate to calling or that first rebirth in which faith is communicated as a principle of new life; a common confusion of regeneration and sanctification hereby arises. The term is rather to be understood as that change in a believer in which he has righteousness and indwelling holiness imparted to him. 2 Thess. 2:13, Through sanctification of the Spirit.

7. For God himself witnesses that holiness is a gift of inherent grace. Jer. 31:33, I will put my law into their mind, and in their heart will I write it; Ezek. 36:26, 27, I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put into the midst of you.

8. Sanctification is distinguished from that change in a man which is linked to his calling in faith and repentance, for in the latter faith is not properly considered a quality but a relationship to Christ, nor is repentance considered a change of disposition (for then it would be the same as sanctification), but a change of the mind’s purpose and intent. Sanctification involves a real change of qualities and disposition.

9. It is called a real change so as to distinguish it not only from justification but also from sanctification by institution, which is the case in the sanctification of the seventh day. It is also distinguished from sanctification by association with symbols, such as the sanctification of the elements in the sacraments. And last, it is distinguished from sanctification by manifestation, as God is said to be sanctified by men, I Peter 3:15.

10. It pertains to the whole man and not to any one part. I Thess. 5:23, Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the whole of the man, or that whole which the man comprises, is not immediately changed.

11. Although the whole man partakes of this grace, it is first and most appropriately in the soul and later progresses to the body, inasmuch as the body of the man is capable of the same obedience to the will of God as the soul. In the soul this grace is found first and most appropriately in the will whence it passes to other faculties according to the order of nature. Deut. 30:6, The Lord thy God shall circumcise your heart and the heart of your seed so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and that you may live; Rom. 2:29, Circumcision is of the heart.

12. It is called a change in man from sin to distinguish it from the sanctification which denotes simply the opposite of the negative, such as that which is attributed to the human nature of Christ which is said to be sanctified or made holy (although the nature of Christ was never defiled by unholiness).

13. The starting point of sanctification is the filthiness, corruption, or stain of sin. 2 Cor. 7: 1, Let us purge ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, being led to holiness in the fear of God.

14. Its end is the purity of God’s image (said to be fashioned or created once more in Knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, Eph. 4:24) or Conformity to the law of God, Jas. 1:25; Newness of life, Rom. 6:4; the New creature, 2 Cor. 5:17 and Gal. 6:15; and the Divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4.

15. The end is called a new and divine creature. First, because it is not produced by those principles which are in us by nature, as is characteristic of all the arts pursued with industry and discipline – it comes out of the new principle of life communicated by God to us in our calling. Second, because our natural disposition is of a completely different kind from what it was before. Third, because it takes for its model the highest perfection found in God himself.

16. There are two degrees of sanctification on earth. One occurs in this life which is generally called an Infancy, 1 Cor. 13:11, 12; Eph. 4:14; 1 Peter 2:2. The variety found in this life is so great that some who are sanctified when compared with others and even with themselves at different times, may rightly be called Infants, and others Adults during their life here, Heb. 5:13, 14.

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