You send your son to a university that has an excellent academic reputation. For four years he is an exceptional student. He maintains a 3.9 grade point average. He is involved in the leadership of several campus organizations. He graduates with honors.

His academic success presents him with an excellent job opportunity. But there is an unusual requirement. As his father, you must write a cover letter for his job application. The first thing the potential employer will see and read when he receives your son's application is your cover letter. The cover letter is to answer one question: "How do you want me to look at your son?"

What would you write in your cover letter? Would you write, "Look at him as the success that he is. You can see his ability and potential by looking at his grade point average, his course grades, and the honors he received. Consider him as the talented, successful person that he is."

Or would you write, "Look at him as though he were a failure. Let him bear the responsibility for every person who attended the university and failed, or dropped out, or caused trouble. Consider him as though he were the worst student who ever attended that university."

  1. The only person who did everything God wanted done exactly the way God wanted it done was Jesus.
    1. I wonder if the full truth of that statement has registered with any of us.
      1. No other human ever did that--not Peter, not John, not Paul, not any Christian.
      2. Isn't that amazing!
        1. When we want to understand how God wants us to act, to think, and to feel, who do we listen to?
        2. Are we not more likely to discuss what Peter, or John, or Paul said than we are to consider what Jesus did or said?
    2. God accomplished something in Jesus that He accomplished in no one else.
      1. Speaking of Jesus, Peter wrote ". . . He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you were healed" (I Peter 2:24).
        1. Our sins were placed on Jesus' body as he died.
        2. Only because our sins were placed on Jesus can we be healed spiritually.
      2. Paul wrote of Jesus, "He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
        1. God made Jesus to be sin.
        2. We have the opportunity to become God's righteousness only because God made Jesus sin.
    3. What ever does that mean? Our sins were placed on Jesus' body? God made Jesus to be sin? What does that mean?
      1. As Jesus died on the cross, God placed all human evil on his body.
      2. Justice said, "Here are all the lies of liars and all the deceit of dishonest or weak people," and God said, "Put them on Jesus."
      3. "Here are all the evils produced by rapists, spouse abusers, child molesters, and murderers," and God said, "Put them on Jesus."
      4. "Here are all the evils associated with adultery, with fornication, with abortion, and with homosexuality," and God said, "Put them on Jesus."
      5. "Here are all the evils associated with stealing, with violence, and with all criminal acts," and God said, "Put them on Jesus."
      6. "Here are all the evils produced by hypocrisy, self-righteousness, pride, judgmental attitudes, conceit, prejudice, and self-justification," and God said, "Put them on Jesus."
      7. "Here are all the evils produced by mean spiritedness, gossip, selfishness, self-centeredness, jealousy, wrath, hate, anger, and contempt," and God said, "Put it on Jesus."
      8. "Here are all the evils created by promoting divisiveness, by being unloving, by encouraging strife and conflict, by wounding hearts and souls and minds," and God said, "Put it on Jesus."
      9. And God said, "Put all human evil on Jesus; spare none of it; put it on Jesus in full measure."
      10. And, as Jesus died, God made him to be sin.
        1. God looked at Jesus as he died, and God saw evil covering his innocent Son.
        2. He saw all the evil of humanity covering His Son, and it was such a repulsive sight that it repelled God, and God turned away from His own Son.
        3. And Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)

  2. God paid for the right to do incredible things for us because God allowed Jesus to be sin.
    1. For example, because God made Jesus to be sin, God can sanctify you and me.
      1. The word sanctify means "to make holy."
        1. In making us holy, God sets us apart from that which is ungodly and evil.
        2. In making us holy, God also consecrates us to Himself; He claims us as His own.
      2. In a very real way, being sanctified means a change of ownership.
        1. We belonged to Satan.
        2. But God took us from Satan and set us apart for Himself.
    2. The concept of sanctification was so clearly understood in the first century that the common name for people who belonged to Christ was saints.
      1. The Bible writings called the gospels refer to people who followed Jesus as disciples.
      2. But the book of Acts and the epistles referred to baptized believers by the word "saints."
        1. Fifty-six times those writings call baptized believers saints.
        2. It was the common name for people who belonged to Jesus Christ.
      3. Don't you think that the name saints was wonderfully appropriate--the people God set apart for Himself?
      4. They were not called saints because they were morally perfect; they were called saints because they had been sanctified--set apart for God in Christ.

  3. If we had a better understanding of sanctification, we would have a better understanding of salvation.
    1. Sanctification never meant or indicated moral perfection.
      1. The sanctified, or saints, or Christians were not and are not morally perfect--or perfect in any other way.
      2. Listen to the way that Paul addressed the troubled congregation at Corinth: "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling . . ." (1 Corinthians 1:2).
        1. The church in Corinth, the Christians there, had been sanctified.
        2. They were saints.
        3. It certainly was not because they were morally perfect; it was because they were in Christ.
      3. Later, Paul said to these saints, "I could not speak to you as spiritual men, but as men of flesh, as to babes in Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
        1. They were not capable of eating solid spiritual food.
        2. Among their many spiritual problems were jealousy and strife.
      4. Obviously, they were not morally perfect or spiritually mature, but they were sanctified.
    2. God sanctified the Christians at Corinth when they were baptized into Christ.
      1. An act of God sanctified them.
      2. Still later Paul informed them that unrighteous people will not inherit God's kingdom.
        1. He listed some unrighteous people who belonged to Satan, who had not been sanctified--he named fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, idol worshippers, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, people who were verbal abusers, and swindlers.
        2. Then he said, "Such were some of you."
        3. Why were they no longer unrighteous people? Because they had become morally perfect? If you have read 1 Corinthians, you know that is not true.
        4. Then why were they no longer the unrighteous? This is Paul's explanation: "but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).
      3. They had been sanctified, they had been set apart for God, they had been made holy, and they needed to learn and understand what that meant.
      4. They were people in transition.
        1. They had been ungodly people.
        2. God sanctified them.
        3. Now they needed to learn and understand what it meant to be set apart to be God's people.
      5. They were not sanctified because they achieved perfection; they were sanctified because they were in Christ.
        1. God did for them what they could not do for themselves.
        2. But they needed to understand what God did for them in Christ.
        3. And they needed to commit themselves to living like people who were set apart for God.

  4. When we enter Christ, God sanctifies us--He sets us apart from evil for Himself.
    1. Because we are sanctified by God, we belong to God, not to Satan.
      1. Rarely does a person comprehend what God does for him when he is baptized into Christ.
      2. Even though most people do not comprehend sanctification, it still happens when the person is placed in Christ.
      3. At that point the learning and understanding should begin.
      4. At that point the life transition should begin.
    2. Wednesday morning when we learned of Lou Porter's accidental death, many of us went into shock.
      1. Lou was a quiet, gentle spirit who touched more lives than we can imagine with her faith and her service.
      2. I thank God that this congregation has been blessed from its beginning through her life.
      3. Lou was an exceptionally kind, thoughtful person.
      4. If Lou could give us a message this morning, one of the things she would tell us would be this: "Please learn this lesson now: we are not saved because were are good; we are saved because we are in Christ.
        1. "We seek to be good people because we have been saved."
        2. "But we are saved because we are in Christ."
        3. "We are saved because God sanctified us."

Every single person in Christ is saved. Why? Because God sanctified every person who enters Christ. By what right does God do that? By the right God gained when he placed all sin on the body of Jesus and made Jesus to be sin.

Every one of us who accepts sanctification in Jesus must do something. Every one of us must learn and accept the responsibility of being set apart for God.

Incredible, wonderful news, best in the history of the world:

No matter what you have done, God can sanctify you.
There is no human evil that God cannot save you from if you understand that He made Jesus to be sin. Share in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus through baptism.

If God sets you apart for Himself, He expects you to then live as if you belong to Him and not behave as if you are Satan's.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 8 March 1998

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