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Growing in Sanctification

Sanctification is that inward spiritual work which Jesus Christ works in a man by the Holy Spirit, when He calls him to be a true believer, separates him from his natural love of sin and the world, puts a new principle in his heart, and makes him practically godly in life.

Sanctification grows in degrees. A man may climb from one step to another in holiness, and be more sanctified at one period of his life than another. He can never be more pardoned or justified than when he first believes. However, more sanctified he certainly may be, because every grace in his new character may be strengthened and deepened.

This is the evident meaning of our Lord’s prayer for His disciples, “Sanctify them” (John 17:17). Paul prayed, “May the God of peace sanctify you” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). That shows the possibility of increased sanctification.

God’s holiest saints agree that they see more, know more, feel more, do more, repent more, and believe more, in proportion to the closeness of their walk with God. In short, they “grow in grace,” as Peter exhorts believers to do (2 Peter 3:18).

Sanctification depends greatly on a diligent use of Scriptural means. When I speak of “means,” I have in view Bible-reading, private prayer, regular attendance on public worship, regular hearing of God’s Word, and regular reception of the Lord’s Supper.

No one who is careless about such things will make much progress in sanctification. No eminent saint ever neglected them. They are appointed channels through which the Holy Spirit strengthens the work He has begun in the inner man.

I should as soon expect a farmer to prosper in business who contented himself with sowing his fields and never looking at them till harvest, as expect a believer to attain much holiness who was not diligent about his Bible-reading, his prayers, and the use of his Sundays.

Our God is a God who works by means, and He will never bless the soul of that man who thinks he can get on without them.

~ J. C. Ryle