The Spirit and Sanctification
A Sermon on Romans 8:16
16The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
In his sermon on Romans 8:16 titled “The Spirit and Sanctification,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones answers an important question: what does it mean to be sanctified and how does the process of sanctification come about? Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds the listener that sanctification comes after salvation and after the Christian’s spirit has been testified by the Spirit of God. This moment in the believer's life is when they become part of God’s family, just as He set apart the Jews in the Old Testament. Dr. Lloyd-Jones gives a sturdy definition of sanctification as the process in which a Christian progressively becomes cleansed of sin. This definition raises another question, he says: When is a believer sanctified? Some parties claim the process is instantaneous, occurring right after a person is saved. No, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says. There is a difference between justification and sanctification. For if all believers were sanctified at the moment of faith, what purpose does the instruction of the Bible serve? In closing, he reminds the Christian of when they were justified through Christ, aware of God’s grace and the weight of their sin. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points toward sanctification – a process every believer goes through.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones begins by reviewing the topic of the spirit bearing witness with our spirits that we are children of God. He notes that they have been defining what this experience means and how the spirit bears witness.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones then discusses how this experience can be differentiated from a false experience, as the devil attempts to provide counterfeits. He notes the church's history and the Bible warn against false spirits.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones transitions to discussing the relationship between the spirit bearing witness and sanctification. He notes this has been a source of confusion, as some groups teach a form of "perfectionism" through this experience.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that John Wesley helped originate this confusion by teaching sanctification came through this experience in the 1740s. Many modern groups that teach perfectionism come from Wesley's teaching.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones lays out the teaching that through this baptism of the Spirit, one can be entirely cleansed of sin and given perfect love of God. Sin is eradicated and one becomes perfectly sanctified.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones asks what Scriptural evidence is used to support this teaching. The main passages are Acts 15:9 and Acts 26:18, which speak of purifying hearts by faith and inheriting sanctification by faith.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues the context of these verses shows they are not about sanctification in the theological sense. Acts 15:9 was about justifying the inclusion of Gentiles, not their sanctification. Acts 26:18 was about Gentiles gaining forgiveness and joining the people of God, not sanctification.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes Hebrews 3:12 shows unbelief comes from an evil, unclean heart. So belief must come from a heart purified of unbelief. This is what Acts 15:9 refers to.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones examines 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, where "sanctified" comes before "justified," showing it has a different meaning. It refers to being set apart to God, not progressive sanctification.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones looks at 2 Thessalonians 2:13, where "sanctification of the Spirit" comes before belief, showing a different meaning. It refers to the Spirit setting apart unto belief, not sanctification as a result of belief.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones examines 1 Peter 1:2, where "sanctification of the Spirit" leads to belief, showing the Spirit sets apart to belief. This differs from the normal order of belief then sanctification.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones focuses on 1 Peter 1:22, where the audience has purified their own souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit. This shows belief purifies the heart, as Acts 15:9 said God does. Both mean the same.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues 1 Corinthians 7:14 shows "sanctified" and "holy" do not always mean morally perfect or cleansed of sin. Unbelieving spouses are "sanctified" and children are "holy" through the believing spouse, though not saved.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues the context of the verses, the state of the Corinthian church, and the New Testament's moral exhortations show this teaching of entire sanctification by faith is unbiblical. The verses refer to inclusion in the people of God, not eradication of sin.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones concludes there is no direct relationship between the spirit's witness and sanctification. But there is an important indirect one: the experience stimulates and promotes sanctification through a vision of God's holiness and the life to come, though it does not automatically achieve sanctification.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.