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​“Sanctification” vs “Conformation”

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  • ​“Sanctification” vs “Conformation”

    Considering the significance in the meaning of the above terms, I believe it would good to note the difference between them. Sanctification is a single work and is synonymous with holiness, which is to identify someone or something that belongs to God, which He has set apart for His pleasure. Conformation is an ongoing work of the forming of someone or something.

    The potential misunderstanding when confusing the two is in how they are related to salvation. The occurrence of receiving salvation is a single act which does not admit in degrees, i.e. no believer is more or less saved than any other believer, and it has no variations in quality or quantity. One is either regenerated or not, which answers to why “sanctified” is always in the past tense in Scripture. Believers “are sanctified” because God has sanctified them at rebirth.

    Conformation (not to confuse with confirmation) is the progressive work of God concerning the walk and faith of the believer, which are primarily purposed to manifest Himself through the believer. The most significant error that can be made if confusing these two terms is when conceiving that salvation (redemption) is an incomplete work within the believer, as though there are other factors besides the Cross-work of Christ to effect salvation.

    All who are saved are sanctified, and this will inevitably be revealed in their manner of life as God continues to “conform” them, which “are change into the same image from glory to glory” (2Cor 3:18), “to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29).

  • #2
    I think Sanctification in the process of salvation is strictly monergistic. Sanctification issues arise from past tense Eph. 2:8; 2 Tim. 1:8,9 present tense 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:5 and future tenses Rom. 5:9,10; Heb. 9:28. Saved, being saved, and someday fully saved are all realities of Sanctification. The sanctifying process begins at regeneration and ends in heaven (glorification), which we all look forward to.

    What you are suggesting in the way of Conformation is often synonymous with progressive sanctification, or rather Christian growth and maturity. Past tense sanctification is also called positional sanctification. The tendency from this position is to will ourselves in spending the rest of our lives trying to become somebody we already are. Present Tense Sanctification (progressive or experiential sanctification) is real truth. As born again believers, we are not trying to become children of God; we are children of God who are becoming like Christ. Progressive sanctification is the process of working out our salvation by faith, that which God has already done.

    God bless,
    William
    Comment>

    • #3
      Originally posted by William View Post
      I think Sanctification in the process of salvation is strictly monergistic. Sanctification issues arise from past tense Eph. 2:8; 2 Tim. 1:8,9 present tense 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:5 and future tenses Rom. 5:9,10; Heb. 9:28. Saved, being saved, and someday fully saved are all realities of Sanctification. The sanctifying process begins at regeneration and ends in heaven (glorification), which we all look forward to.

      What you are suggesting in the way of Conformation is often synonymous with progressive sanctification, or rather Christian growth and maturity. Past tense sanctification is also called positional sanctification. The tendency from this position is to will ourselves in spending the rest of our lives trying to become somebody we already are. Present Tense Sanctification is real truth and is the basis for progressive sanctification. As born again believers, we are not trying to become children of God; we are children of God who are becoming like Christ. Progressive sanctification is the process of working out our salvation by faith, that which God has already done.

      God bless,
      William
      Hi Will - Thanks for your input. The reason why my view here is different from many in contemporary Christendom is because the word "sanctified" (not related terms but the term itself) in Scripture is always in the past tense, demonstrating that the act of it by God in the believer is a single occurrence never needing repetition (Heb 10:14). Same for holiness, justification, salvation, redemption, etc.

      The error which can be made with these terms is relating sanctification with salvation as a process and not a single act.
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      • #4
        Hi N.Chaplain,

        Originally posted by NetChaplain View Post
        The error which can be made with these terms is relating sanctification with salvation as a process and not a single act.
        Is Glorification obtainable here upon the earth in this life in our current bodies? Asking for clarification... .

        Reformed Christians don’t want to suggest that God’s grace is somehow negligible in sanctification. Nor do we want to suggest that the hard work of growing in godliness is not a supernatural gift from God. On the other hand, we are on dangerous ground if we imply that we are passive in sanctification in the same way we are passive in regeneration. We don’t want to suggest God is the only active agent in our progressive sanctification, because we cooperate (dare I say synergism) with God in sanctification and actively make an effort to grow in godliness. We need be careful with our words.

        Hebrews 10:14 ‘He hath perfected’ - and in the latter part of our text, according to the accurate rendering, it is spoken of as continuous and progressive, as yet incomplete and going on to perfection- For the text ought to read - ‘He hath perfected for ever them that are being sanctified.’ So there you have these two things, the double view of what Christ does, ‘perfects’ and ‘sanctifies,’ and the double view of His ‘work, in that in one aspect it is past and complete, and in another aspect it is running on, continuous, and as yet unfinished.
        Begin with sanctifying, and we will come to perfecting. That is the New Testament teaching. And there is no way of getting to that perfection except through the one offering. Now, I agree that one is sanctified (past tense), a completed action. Christians are sanctified in a way that has no bearing on the condition of their day-to-day life. Progressive sanctification implies that sin continues to be present to some extent in the life of the believer (1 Kings 8:46; Psalm 19:12; Psalm 143:2; Proverbs 20:9; Isaiah 64:6; James 3:2). According to Paul, sin is dealt with over time by putting to death the deeds of the flesh (see Romans 8:13). Progression in sanctification can also be seen in Colossians 3. Verses 1 and 3 affirm that definitive sanctification has occurred ("we have died in Christ and been raised up with him") but, in verse 5, Paul advises one must still "consider the members of your earthly body to be dead to sin." Colossians 3:9-10, 2 Corinthians 7:1 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 all convey this same progressive sense of sanctification.

        Christians are new creatures - not sinless, nor totally conformed to the image of Christ, but genuinely new people headed in that direction. This is why we are still repeatedly urged in the New Testament to fight sin and the influence of evil in our lives (Ephesians 6:11-13; Galatians 5:16; Hebrews 12:4).

        And this is where I will give pause in order to avoid the misconceptions of "Perfectionism".

        God bless,
        William
        Comment>

        • #5
          Originally posted by NetChaplain View Post
          The reason why my view here is different from many in contemporary Christendom is because the word "sanctified" (not related terms but the term itself) in Scripture is always in the past tense, demonstrating that the act of it by God in the believer is a single occurrence never needing repetition (Heb 10:14). Same for holiness, justification, salvation, redemption, etc.

          The error which can be made with these terms is relating sanctification with salvation as a process and not a single act.
          I do not think that is correct although I do see what you trying to get at.

          The verb[SIZE=14px] ἁγιάζω [/SIZE]is found in the present tense 7 times in the N.T. (4 times as a participle and 3 times in the indicative mood).

          The verse you cite, Heb. 10:14, is one of those examples. The participle there is [SIZE=14px]ἁγιαζομένους[/SIZE] and it is present, middle\passive, masculine, plural.
          Comment>

          • #6
            Originally posted by NetChaplain View Post
            The error which can be made with these terms is relating sanctification with salvation as a process and not a single act.
            This is throwing me off, because Salvation is densely packed. When smashed with a sub-atomic hammer... . other terms such as Predestination, Election, Calling, Regeneration, Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification spring forth from off the anvil.

            God bless,
            William
            Comment>

            • #7
              I believe man has no part in the work of effecting sanctification, or any other of God's attributes, i.e. holiness, righteousness, justification, etc. The believer's part in the whole of salvation and these attributes can only exist in manifesting them, not producing them, and as we know it's God who works this in and through us for the manifesting of His glory (Mat 5:16), showing all that He is in us. Believers "are" sanctified because they "were" sanctified at rebirth, and will "ever" be so!

              Christians are all these things because they are imputed from Christ at rebirth (2Pe 1:3), not made from self but displayed from self, just as the work or fruit of God is produced by the Vine and not the branches, for the branches merely "bear" the fruit" (John 15:8).

              Nor are the attributes of God imparted because they, being attributes only from God are not communicable to man, and therefore must be "imputed" ("made unto" - 1Co 1:30) to the believer. Salvation itself is not imputed but imparted, with redemption being the fruit of it.

              Example: "According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2Pe 1:3). The "all things that pertain to life and godliness" are those listed in the following verses 4-8.
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              • #8
                Is Glorification obtainable here upon the earth in this life in our current bodies?
                If you're referring to glorifying God--"glorify God in your body, and in your spirit" (1Co 6:20).
                Comment>

                • #9
                  Originally posted by NetChaplain View Post
                  If you're referring to glorifying God--"glorify God in your body, and in your spirit" (1Co 6:20).
                  Hi Net Chaplain,

                  I was referring to the "Golden Chain" in Romans 8:28:

                  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
                  “Glorification” is God's final removal of sin from the life of the saints (i.e., everyone who is saved) in the eternal state (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17). At Christ’s coming, the glory of God (Romans 5:2)—His honor, praise, majesty, and holiness—will be realized in us; instead of being mortals burdened with sin nature, we will be changed into holy immortals with direct and unhindered access to God’s presence, and we will enjoy holy communion with Him throughout eternity.

                  I was merely asking whether you believe the final act of Redemption is in the future when believers are perfectly conformed to the holy character of their Savior? The ultimate goal of our sanctification is conformity to the image of Christ Rom. 8:29. Glorification includes not only the redemption of the body, but also believers being sealed in righteousness.

                  My point being is that when Justified God "counts" me over here. When Glorified, the real separation takes place, I am no longer there but here without sin conformed to the Savior. Glorification is yet future. Romans 8:21–23 - when God glorifies a person, he gives that person a new and glorious body. When God glorifies his children, he gives them inward beauty — called holiness. This begins as a process in this life (called sanctification) and culminates when we come into the presence of Christ at death or at his second coming.

                  I think the reason that Paul omitted sanctification from his chain in Romans 8:29–30 — the reason he did not say, "Those whom he justified he also sanctified, and those whom he sanctified he also glorified" — is that Paul is thinking of glorification in a way that includes sanctification. So glorification is the work of God by which he makes his children both spiritually and physically glorious. It begins now as a process of becoming holy, and it ends at the resurrection when we receive our new and glorious bodies.
                  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 — "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, and are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
                  • 2 Corinthians 4:16–17 — "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."

                  God bless,
                  William
                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    I see your meaning and agree concerning conformation, in that as it presently forms us, such will continue "until the redemption of the purchased possession" (Eph 1:14), which is "the day of Jesus Christ" (Phl 1:6).

                    There is parallelism between the believer's present glory and the Lord's when He was here, and the progression of His now, and ours later in the absence of the old man and the natural body, but I see sanctification as a constant from its beginning in us because it does not require progression, for it is based in Christ from our rebirth.

                    Same as there is no need for progression concerning holiness, righteousness and salvation itself (i.e. we will not be any more saved, holy, etc. than we are now) because they're are based on that which is not progressive, such as Christ's holiness, righteousness, sanctification, etc. (1Co 1:30). I like seeing these constants as preservatives (Jude 1:1) in the saint's walk as the Spirit continues His work (Gal 5:17).

                    Wanted to mention I like the term Golden Chain for the referencing you posted, never heard that before. I also thank the Lord for your labors on CF.org and I believe God has well groomed you (as He does many) for instruction and encouragement, in which we continue to grow concerning those He instructs of His Word.

                    Concerning the parallelism (conformation) of the believer to the Lord Jesus, I would like to share Gill's comment, which I hope is not excessive:

                    "He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son"; 'having perfect, distinct, special knowledge of them, joined with love to them, he predetermined, or fore-appointed them in his eternal mind, in his everlasting and unchangeable purposes and decrees to this end, conformity to the image of Christ; which is not to be understood of the Spirit of Christ: God's elect indeed are chosen to be holy, and through sanctification of the Spirit, but are never said to be conformed, made like to the Spirit, nor is the Spirit ever called the image of Christ; but this designs either likeness to Christ as the Son of God, or conformity to him in his human nature.

                    "There is indeed a great disparity between the son-ship of Christ, and of the saints; he is the eternal and natural Son of God, he is the one and only begotten Son, they are adopted ones, yet in some things there is a likeness; as he is the Son of God, so are they the sons of God, though not in the same sense; as he is a beloved Son, so are they; as he is the firstborn with respect them, they are the firstborn with respect to angels; as he has an inheritance, so have they; moreover, he has a very great concern in their son-ship; the predestination of them to it is by him.

                    "The blessing itself is founded on union to him, on their conjugal relation to him, and his assumption of their nature; it comes to them through his redemption, and is actually bestowed on them by him; and this conformity to Christ as sons, will mere fully appear hereafter, when they shall be like him, and see him as he is: or this may be understood of the saints' conformity to Christ in his human nature, both here and hereafter: here in holiness; the image of God was in in his first creation, this is defaced by sin; and in regeneration, the image of Christ is stamped, his grace is wrought in them, his Spirit is put into them, to enable them to walk in him, and after him: this will be complete hereafter, and will consist in perfect holiness, being freed from the very being, as well as the power and guilt of sin; in perfect knowledge of everything that will tend to their happiness; and in glory like to Christ, both in soul and body."

                    Romans 8 - John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible - Bible Commentary
                    Last edited by NetChaplain; 11-13-2015, 05:59 AM.
                    Comment>

                    • #11
                      Just to add possible further reasons why I believe sanctification is a one-time application is because my understanding is that it does not need to be supplied more than once, after which application provides all that's ever needed to remain sanctified, same for all which concerns holiness, righteousness, redemption, etc., which are all provided by the Father through Christ (1Co 1:30), which is revealed in the saint by the observances of the outward lifestyle.

                      Hebrews 10:10 - "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

                      Hebrews 10:14 – “For by one offering he hath perfected to the end those sanctified” (YLT). This translation reads the same for KJV, but not NKJV.

                      John Gill –

                      " In him it is as the cause, in them as the effect; in Him as its fountain, in them as the stream; in Him it is complete, in them it is imperfect for the present: and they have it by virtue of union to Him . . . ; wisdom may stand in general for the wise scheme of justification, as it is laid in Christ; "sanctification" may intend the holiness of his nature; "righteousness" the obedience of his life; and "redemption" his sufferings and death, by which it is obtained.

                      “But then justification and sanctification are not to be confounded; they are two distinct things, and have their proper uses and effects; sanctification in the saints does not justify, or justification sanctify; the one respects the power and being of sin, the other the guilt of it. Moreover, Christ is the sanctification of his people "meritoriously"; through the shedding of his blood, whereby he has sanctified them, that is, expiated their sins, and made full atonement for them.”

                      1 Corinthians 1 - John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible - Bible Commentary
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