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Transformed and Sanctified

We considered previously the great significance of God’s Choice and Justification of His most blessed beneficiaries. This though, was not all God did. God Transforms and Sanctifies all those that He first Chose and Justified.


God’s gracious choice of us and our being declared just in God’s eyes, are great blessings indeed; but they are just the beginning. Every one of these chosen people of God is so changed that He describes them as new creatures:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor 5:17)

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. (Gal. 6:15)

This is indeed a sweeping transformation, one so great that God chooses to describe it as a change in nature. We retain the same outward appearance but are so different inwardly that God identifies us as new creatures. We are the same as others externally but, because of the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are radically different internally.

It is all too easy to minimize the force of these passages, especially in an environment that has already minimized much of the power of Scripture. All too commonly, Christians play down the significance of this change. “All things” become “some things” and soon is demoted to “a few things.” A “new creature” becomes a “changed person” and then, a person with a “new outlook,” and so on. This tendency to detract from God’s declaration is sinful; it demeans God’s word and, if practiced habitually, can seriously limit the Christian’s personal development and his impact on the world. The believer that has a realistic appreciation of the vast difference between what he has become and what he was before, is a far more dedicated and powerful influence on his surroundings than is one that lacks this comprehension.

God sees His chosen people as having been remade. They are so very different; the old is gone, passed away. All things are become new; an entirely new life lies before them.

  • He gave them new hearts and a new spirit:

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you:  and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (Ezek. 36:26)

New hearts, a new spirit, a new kind of desire. It is no longer the old hard and stony heart that desired the things that gratify the sinful nature. It is a heart of flesh, a heart that has feeling and compassion, that shuns evil and desires only what is good and righteous.

  • They are God-created workers:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)

This enormous change within them is something God did. They are created in Christ Jesus, unto good works, works that the infinite eternal God beforehand ordained that we should walk in them.

  • They are created in righteousness:

And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Eph. 4:24)

Surely God expects much of His creatures: they are to put on this newness of character, as we would an item of clothing, something to wear. Righteousness and true holiness are to characterize their lives.

  • They are a peculiar people:

…Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  (Tit. 2:13-14)

Christ gave Himself to make the beneficiaries of His sacrifice a peculiar people, very different from unbelievers. He expects them to be zealous, desiring from deep-down inside themselves (from their inner hearts) to do good works. They are a highly blessed and privileged people that will spend all eternity with their Lord and Savior.

These are huge and deeply penetrating changes but there is more yet to come. Is this a new experience for you dear reader? Hold fast to it; don’t let the feeling of newness and difference slip away; it is precious beyond measure!


Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  … but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.  (1 Cor. 6:9 11)

It is typically assumed that one is sanctified (made a saint) when he or she is born-again, that is, at the point that the Holy Spirit first indwells the person. That is so, but there is also more to sanctification than being born-again—great as that is! Rebirth is after all, a birth, a beginning, with growth and development to follow. Sanctification is the process that begins with the new birth, and goes on from there to produce significant changes deep within the individual.

The differences between believers and unbelievers are real and huge, but to begin with they are not clearly evident. There is usually an immediate recognition of a change within. The new believer feels and knows he is somehow different. The immense magnitude, though, of the changes that have begun and can continue to take place is not immediately grasped. There is a potential for more, much more to follow. The new birth is a real change internally but it is also the beginning of a development process. This requires time and effort as the individual gains insight and the differences become more and more evident, first to the believer himself and then to others.

There is a renewed outlook on life and a new mind-set is developing, one very different from the typical attitude of an unbeliever. In principle, it is becoming more and more God-centered as opposed to the previous self-centeredness. The believer’s mind-set is gradually conforming to God’s original and ultimate plan for His special creature, mankind.

This process, though, is often interrupted, sometimes very early. God, in the book of Hebrews gives us an example of the frequent lack and great need for maturity:

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness:  for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

These Hebrew believers should have been teachers but were still babes in Christ. So it is, with so many Christians today that are satisfied with, and go no further than, the most basic understanding of merely the salvation process. God is pleased with all that come to Him but He asks for more:

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:  but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  (1 Corinthians 13:11)

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:    (Ephesians 4:14-15)

The rate at which this transformation progresses is strongly dependent on the environment the new child of God experiences. Fellowship with unbelievers distracts and retards it; fellowship with other, especially more mature believers enhances it. Without the kind of protective and nurturing environment, as is best provided within an ecclesia community, growth is likely to be limited to much less than its full potential.

With godly support, the residual sin nature present in every believer is soon overcome and personal development in righteousness and godliness can progress rapidly. Spiritually as well as physically, we begin as children and then grow into adulthood. God is never satisfied with halfway measures and desires to see His chosen creatures grow to full maturity.

As we do so, we become more like Jesus and more like the believers of the first century who were first called Christians (little Christs) because they lived out their faith, demonstrating it to all around them.  (Acts 11:26).

When more of God’s people begin to recognize the extent to which God is depending on their efforts in this world, change will come. When they begin to apply themselves more diligently to both their personal development and His work, we will see real change. A new world, one patterned after His Word, a world very different from what it is today, a world that has already begun to take shape, will become more and more visible.