Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || VIDEO
INI + AMEN.
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
((5. Oops!: How’s your sanctification going?))
How’s your holiness going? Now that we’re doing less, a little bit closer to home, it’s gotten easier, right? What’s your holiness, your sanctification look like?
It’s should be there, right? Christians should be holy. That’s true. Christians do holy things because doing holy things makes you holy, right? Not so much, but isn’t that how we think? Isn’t that what we believe about Christianity? That’s so often how we talk, it’s how we act. Or really, it’s how we expect others to act. “They”—whoever that may be—need to get their act together. We think that way because that’s how it works in the world. Doing good things makes you a good person. Working out makes you strong. Eating healthy makes you healthy. On and on it goes.
((4. Ugh!: We turn our sanctification into our justification.))
We import that thinking into Christianity. We think it’s all on us now. God’s done His part; now it’s our turn. He puts in the forgiveness effort, we put in the actual hard work, and then sanctification happens, holy living happens. He powers us up, and off we go, like a windup toy or music box. Or God’s part, His grace, His power, is like a cup of coffee, the jolt of caffeine, but then the rest is what we do with it.
So, do more better, but even if you do, what of unbelievers who live better than you? And when you don’t do more better, are you even a Christian? How’s all this thinking and living and doing been working out for you? Our failure in sanctification has nothing to do with a lack of our works. Quite the opposite actually. It’s actually an abundance of works. Ours compared to others.
We compare our lack of works to others abundance of good works. We’ll compare our abundance of good works to others lack of good works. And when we think of so-called “Sunday morning Christians” who aren’t living a sanctified, holy, Christian life, our thinking is actually, “They aren’t being like me. They’re not working hard, like I am. Not being Christian enough, like I am.” In the same breath we cast down our brother and exalt ourselves.
((3. Aha!: THE HOLY SPIRIT MAKES YOU HOLY.))
But where’s the Lord in all of that? Sure, there’s much of you and your doing, much of me and my doing, much of our neighbor and his or her doing—maybe lack of doing. “Let Him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” So, what does the Lord say about all this? What does the Lord Jesus tell you today through the prophet Ezekiel? “I will sanctify you.” “I will put My Spirit within you, and I will cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will guard My judgments and do them.” And why will this happen? Why will you walk in His statutes, and guard His judgments and do them? It’s because THE HOLY SPIRIT MAKES YOU HOLY.
((2. Whee!: How does the Spirit sanctify you?))
THE HOLY SPIRIT MAKES YOU HOLY. Makes sense. It’s one of the reasons He’s called the Holy Spirit. He makes holy. He sanctifies. That’s what the Lord is telling us through Ezekiel—John and Peter, too. “I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you.” How’s it a new heart, a new spirit? Because “I will put My Spirit within you.” This is why in our offertory we pray for God to create a new heart and not to take His Holy Spirit from us. For there to be a new heart, there needs to be the Holy Spirit. No Holy Spirit, no new heart, no new spirit, no living heart, just a heart of stone.
But how does the Spirit do this? How does the Spirit make you holy? Listen to Jesus Words in John: “The Spirit of Truth will testify about Me.” He testifies about what Jesus has done for you. That Jesus takes your sins as His own. He dies for them, sheds His blood for them, and rises from the dead for the forgiveness of yours sins. What’s the Lord do with His people who profane His name, who don’t act as if they’re really His people? He sanctifies them. He cleans them up, gives them His Spirit. The Spirit who says that your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake alone. “I do this for My own name’s sake,” declares the Lord.
How does the Spirit deliver this Good News of Jesus? Jesus tells you. He told His disciples, “You will be My witnesses.” The Spirit, through the preaching of the Good News, the telling of the Good News, gives the testimony of the forgiveness of sins, and this forgiveness of sins is what sanctifies you, makes you holy. So, you’re holy, sanctified, you’re set apart from your sins, from you death, and from the power of the devil. You’re set apart as God’s child. The Spirit’s done this for you, sanctified you, in the delivery of the Gospel to you.
((1. Yeah!: What does this sanctification look like?))
So, what’s this sanctification of the Spirit look like? THE HOLY SPIRIT SANCTIFIES YOU. He’s the Holy Spirit; that’s His job, so to speak. He sanctifies through the Good News of the forgiveness of sins. But what’s it look like?
First of all, it looks like Holy Baptism. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I’ll cleanse you from all your filtiness”—your sins—“and from all your idols.” That’s you from the font. There the Lord Jesus, through Water, Word, and the Holy Spirit, put His name on you, clothed you in His own righteousness, washed you in death, and made you a child of the Father. We see the connection between the water from Christ’s side at Calvary and the water and word from the font. There clean water, bloody water, cleansing you. “Without the shedding of blood there’s no forgiveness of sins.”
The Spirit sanctifying you also looks like the forgiveness of sins. The Lord forgives His people who reject His name for them. He brings them back. They treat His name like nothing, profane it, and so He sanctifies His name, by sanctifying the people who bear His name. He makes His name holy, by making you holy, forgiving you, because you bear His name, as His baptized.
What of works? The Spirit’s there, too. Again, we’d rather the Spirit stay at the font, stay in the forgiveness of sins, and leave the works to us. But that’s just dead works. Works apart from life that only “the Lord and Giver of Life” can give. The Spirit, through Christ’s blood, “purifies you from dead works to serve the living God.” “I give you a heart of flesh.” And what does that Spirit-filled living heart do for you? Listen to the Lord: “I will cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will guard My judgments and do them.”
Apart from the Spirit, you won’t walk in the statutes, you won’t guard the judgments and do them. You’ll just be stuck with a stone-dead heart. Sins are symptoms of a dead heart. Good works the symptoms of a Spirit-filled heart. Good works don’t make you good. They’re fruit of Spirit growing through you. And those good works, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, aren’t just a nice idea. They’re real works for the real people in your life. The Spirit bears His fruit in your daily callings as a baptized child of God.
“Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker?” Are you a congregation member or pastor? A leader or citizen? Are you a boss? A farmer? A business own, teacher? “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies.” “Keep loving one another earnestly,”—fervently—“since love covers a multitude of sins.” Forgiveness for those around you from God, through you! What love!
So, how’s you’re holiness? Well, in yourself nothing. Stone heart in you and your felsh. We like to return to those dead works. But THE HOLY SPIRIT MAKES YOU HOLY. When He does it, you are holy. He gifts holiness to you. You’re baptized! Our problem is we keep working for what can’t be earned. “I will cause you to walk.” “I will give you.” All gift from the LORD. He makes you holy in the forgiveness of sins delivered in Words, Water, and the body and blood of Jesus. For in and through Christ’s body and blood the Spirit really gifts you what Peter says, “Faith toward God and fervent, earnest love toward one another.”
INI + AMEN.