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Sanctification Comes with Conflict

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 does not keep a man from inward spiritual conflict between the flesh and the spirit which are found together in every believer (Galatians 5:17). A deep sense of that struggle is no proof that a man is not sanctified.

To the contrary, the struggle is a healthy symptom of our condition. It proves that we are not dead but alive. A true Christian may be known by his warfare as well as by his peace.

They must not think they are not sanctified because they have this inward struggle. Indeed, our holiest actions are all more or less full of imperfections. They are either wrong in motive or deficient in performance. In themselves they are nothing better than “splendid sins,” deserving God’s wrath and condemnation.

To suppose that such actions can stand the severity of God’s judgment is simply absurd. The only righteousness in which we can appear before God is the perfect righteousness of our Substitute and Representative—Jesus Christ the Lord. His work is our only title to heaven.

For all this, however, the Bible distinctly teaches that the holy actions of a sanctified man, although imperfect, are pleasing in the sight of God. “With such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16).

Let this never be forgotten, for it is a comfort. Just as a parent is pleased with the efforts of his little child to please him, though it be only by picking a daisy, so is our Father pleased with His believing children.

He looks at the motive, principle, and intention of their actions, and not merely at their quantity and quality. He regards them as members of His own dear Son, and for His sake, He is well-pleased.

~ J. C. Ryle