Posts Tagged ‘Sanctification’

Note: This is a guest post since presently I am teaching overseas. This is by Dave Guill. His blog be found here.

Poco A Poco (Little by little)

Man Walking Deserted HIghway in Utah

Recently, I began teaching Bible and science at a little bilingual school nestled deep in the mountains of Yamaranguila, Honduras. So far, the experience has been spectacular! The weather Is perfect, the town is quaint, the students are awesome, and the food…. is just oh-so-good.


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Note: This is a guest post since presently I am teaching overseas. This is by Bruce. His blog be found here.

bible blur christ christianity


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Note: This is a guest post since I am currently away.  This is by Micah.  If you have thoughts and questions, feel free to comment and when he has time he will respond. His blog can be found here.  He also tweets

If you are truly Calvinistic, you’ve heard the popular passage from Isaiah 64:6, “And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” It is a passage frequently quoted to kill the monster of works righteousness and legalistic salvation, a monster that tends to pop its head out in religious circles. And rightly so, God does not take notice of the deeds of the man whose heart has not been cleansed by Christ and who has no love for Him.

Though this teaching is true, it may lead some Christians to wonder if God could ever be pleased. The war against the flesh is real, and sometimes believers can wallow in defeat and in doubt, even though they are saved. They ask, “Could God ever be happy with my life?” Christians get stuck in this kind of discouragement during seasons of weakness and sin struggles so they search for a way out.

Thankfully, Scripture has examples of men who, as sinners, displayed a type of obedience that truly and genuinely pleased God. It showed that God’s people are capable by His grace to exhibit real obedience to God without accomplishing perfect obedience. Since Christ was the only perfectly obedient man to ever live, we’re not required to be perfectly obedient. Nevertheless, our new life in Christ demands we strive for holiness and express the good works we were predestined to do.

This blog assumes that you are a Christian, not trusting in works for your salvation, but saved and washed by the blood of Christ. With that said, here are a few examples to encourage you in your walk with the Lord. They are instances of God’s people who were imperfect yet still lived a life pleasing unto God.


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Last year I shared a conference called the Veritas Conference.  While last year’s topic is on the Gospel this past year’s conference is on the theme of Sanctification.

How much do you know about what the Bible has to say about Sanctification?


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As I grow more in the Lord I discover the right motivation for obedience matters even more.

Actually wrong motivation for obedience can reveal a misunderstanding of the role of grace and works.  A wrong view of works can lead one to be arrogant and act like a Pharisee.

Here’s a witty ditty that keeps us remembering the right motivation for motivation:


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Battle of the MindThe Role of the Mind in Sanctification, Part 3

Erroneous Views of Sanctification

Unfortunately, there are many erroneous views of sanctification.  The Roman Catholic Church blurs the line between justification and sanctification.[1]  Instead of viewing both aspects of salvation biblically, they view justification as a process, but sanctification is a process (progressive sanctification is a process, not positional sanctification) not justification.[2]  They are both distinct from one another.

The other view would be the “let-go-and-let-God” theology, which perceives the Christian as being passive in his sanctification.[3]  That is in contradiction to God’s imperative to be holy.

Another dangerous view is perfectionalism, which believes that a Christian can become perfectly sanctified.[4]

There is also the “two-step approach” to sanctification.[5]  This view believes that one becomes sanctified after justification; and happens at the second act or occurs in what they call the second blessing.[6]  That is unbiblical.  Sanctification happens simultaneously at regeneration.  The moment one is changed, he is sanctified immediately. 

The Role of the Mind in Sanctification

Much background and other important peripheral details have been given concerning the mind and sanctification.  In light of much that has been revealed, we will move into the area concerning the role of mind in sanctification according to Romans 6:1-14. For the sake of this paper, I will not be giving a full-blown exegetical insight into every verse, but will make an attempt to explain the powerful implications of the hinge verse: Romans 6:11.

The first opening statements from Paul are clear concerning his denunciation and repudiation of a sinful lifestyle.  It is impossible to live a habitual and sinful lifestyle in order to receive more grace (6:1-2).  This is impossible because Paul affirms that we have “died to sin” (v. 2b); and we have been taken out of its tyranny in a manner that is radical; and it allows for a language of death and new life to be used as a paradigm for sanctification.[7]

In vv. 3-4, Paul shows how the transfer from the dominion of tyranny: we “died to sin” in baptism.[8]  Paul uses death to sin in relation to baptism to summarize our conversion to Christ and initiation or entrance into his body.[9]  In regards to the “conversion-initiation,” to join with Christ means to join with Christ’s death; and Paul shows this in vv. 9-10 by pointing out that Christ’s death was in of itself “death to sin.”[10]  The close association with Christ’s death seems to exhibit the reality being buried with Him.[11]  It is important for the believer to note that the concept of burial does two things in this context of Romans 6: sets the seal on death and prepares for what is to come: living a holy life that is patterned after the resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.[12]

In Romans 6:5, it is seems best to connect it with verse 4 since Paul makes the connection that we are in union with Christ’s death and our union with Him in life (4b).[13]

In Romans 6:6-7, Paul resumes and explains more concerning the “death” concept of the believer’s union with Christ (vv. 4a and 5a), while verses 8-10 focuses on the “life” concept of a believer’s union with Christ (vv. 4b and 5b).[14]

When you come across Romans 6:11, it becomes the hinge verse for Romans 6:1-10 because it is a clarion call to believers to “consider” themselves in the manner that Paul described in Romans 6:2-10 concerning the death-life paradox that is inseparable.[15]  By implication, Paul is exhorting them to use their minds (“consider”).  The use of the mind is the heartbeat of sanctification.[16]  Without a Christ-centered mind, there is no sanctification.  When Paul is exhorting the Christians to “consider”—he is not telling them to consider the Gospel one time, but he is telling them to consider the Gospel habitually.  The implications of the Gospel must be on their mind habitually in order to mortify sin effectively.  What is interesting to note is that Paul’s implementation of the forms of “know” and “believe,” is used around four times (vv. 3, 6, 8, 9).[17]  Spiritual exhortation is always built upon knowledge of a doctrine or revelation given.[18]

Those who do not have the mind of Christ or who are unable to consider the blessings of the Gospel is described by Pastor MacArthur in this manner, “By engaging the inner faculties—mind, emotions, desire, memory, and imagination—thought-sins work directly on the soul to bias it toward evil.[19]  Based on Pastor MacArthur’s thoughts, no one falls into sins such as adulteries, lies, etc., but the person who sins has a heart that has been shaped and nourished by lustful thoughts before the deed was conceived.[20]  Another highlight of verse 11 is the use of the word “consider” (λογίζομαι).  He tells them to consider themselves being dead to sin and alive to God (vv. 2-10).  The consideration is made even more clear in  vv. 12-14.

In verse 11, the phrase ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (in Christ Jesus) means the believer’s union in Christ.[21]  The believer’s reality of being dead to sin and alive in Christ is grounded in Christ’s death and resurrection.[22]  A believer’s death to sin does not mean that a Christian is unable to sin, but it means that the mastery and dominion of sin being the master and ruler of one’s life  has ended for those in Christ.[23]  The word ζῶντας (zōntas, alive) does mean that believers are already resurrected (cf. vv. 5, 8), but it means that the power of Christ’s resurrection affects the believer’s life at present (cf. v. 4).[24]

Verses 12-13 resumes the notion by further drawing out the implications of Christ death and resurrection.[25]  In verse 12, Paul gives a prohibition by saying, “…do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.”  Paul is not saying that sin is reigning in their life (cf. 15:14-15).  The word “body” (σῶμα) is limited not only to the physical body, but also refers to whole person, which includes the body and desires such as envy, jealousy, rage, anger, etc.[26]

In verse 13 when Paul says, “body to sin,” he is not saying that the body is sinful or evil, which is an ancient heresy that can be reached back to Gnosticism, but what Paul is saying is that sin’s pleasure operates in the body because without the body, sin can’t corrupt the mind.[27]  Sin uses the body as the vehicle to bring about transgression in one’s life.  That happens when one caves into temptations.

In verse 14, as Paul continues his discussion of sin not being our masters no longer.  Paul then dives into the discussion of the law by saying, “…for you are not under the law but under grace.”  First of all, I do not think that Paul is saying that the moral law is no longer applicable or no longer to be obeyed, because the problem is not with living under the moral law that is a problem, because the commands are good and holy (Rom. 7:12).[28]  Instead, what it means is that we are no longer under its condemnation; nor does it mean that we use the law to work for our salvation, for salvation is by grace alone (Eph. 2:8).  Instead, the moral law is a moral compass for sanctification and for ethics in society, but it could only be kept by the Holy Spirit’s power.[29]  Also the law, which is impossible to be kept perfectly, is designed to show man’s sinfulness, futility, and his helpless state.[30]

[1]Michael A. Vlach, “Theology III” (Unpublished syllabus, The Master’s Seminary, 2012), 220.

[2]Ibid., 220.

[3]Ibid., 221.

[4]Ibid., 221.

[5]Ibid., 221.

[6]Ibid., 221.

[7]Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary of the New Testament, eds. Ned B. Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 354; Anthony A. Hoekema, Five Views on Sanctification, ed. Stanley N. Grundry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), 73.  Romans 6, gives the clearest expression of the conclusive aspect of expression of sanctification that is expressed (ibid., 72).  For example, in Romans 6:2, Paul says, “We died to sin,” which is an expression of an unambiguous language concerning the truth, that the Christian has made a radical and “irreversible breach” in the domain and realm where sin reigns (Ibid., 73).  Hoekema underscores the decisive and irreversible breach from the enslavement to sin by indicating that believers who are in Christ, reveals that their old self has been crucified with God in v. 6 (Ibid., 73).  What is fascinating is Paul’s usage of the aorist tense which suggests the definitive action in tbe sense that sin is no longer lord or master over them because believers are under rule of grace (v. 14) (Ibid., 73).  Not only does Paul underscores the essential truth of Christians dying to sin, which is tied to Jesus’ baptism unto death, but Paul underscores that believers have been decisively raised with Christ which is tied to Jesus resurrection (ibid., 73).

[8]Ibid., 354; C.E.B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1975), 304.  Cranfield points out this concerning baptism into Christ’s death, “Not that it actually relates the person concerned to Christ’s death, since this relationship is already an objective reality before baptism takes place, having been brought into being by God’s gracious decision, which is implied by…in 5:8, but that it points to, and is a pledge of, that death which the person concerned has already died—in God’s sight” (Ibid., 303).

[9]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 354.

[10]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 354.

[11]Ibid., 354.

[12]Ibid., 354.

[13]Ibid., 354.

[14]Ibid., 354.

[15]Ibid., 354.

[16]Amatuccio, “The Role of the Mind in Christian Sanctification According to Romans 6:1-14.”

[17]John F. MacArthur, Romans 1-8, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 332.

[18]Ibid., 332.

[19]MacArthur, The Vanishing Conscience, 183.

[20]Ibid., 183; cf. also in James 1:15, which says, “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

[21]Thomas Schreiner, Romans, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 322.

[22]Ibid., 322.

[23]Ibid., 322.

[24]Ibid., 322.

[25]Ibid., 322,

[26]Ibid., 383.

[27]Morris,  The Epistle to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, 257.

[28]Amatuccio, “The Role of of the Mind in Christian Sanctification According to Romans 6:1-14,” 128.

[29]Ibid., 132.

[30]Ibid., 132.

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Battle of the MindThe Role of the Mind in Sanctification, Part 2

Definition of Sanctification

Sanctification is the concept that there is a progressive work of God; along with man’s cooperation that makes him more and more like Christ in their lives; and more and more freed from sin.[1]

Theologian, Anthony A. Hoekema defines it clearly in this manner, “We may define sanctification as that gracious operation of the Holy Spirit, involving our responsible participation, by which He delivers us as justified sinners from the pollution of sin, renews our entire nature according to the image of God, and enables us to live lives that are pleasing to Him.”[2]

It would also be beneficial to see the Old Testament revelation concerning what we called sanctification.  It must be noted that the Old Testament and New Testament are inseparable of each other and one should never be considered as inferior to the other.[3] But since the New Testament is built upon the foundation of the Old Testament, it would be vital to see how the concept of sanctification is defined.[4]  But let’s first start with the Old Testament since it is the foundation for the New Testament.  The Old Testament uses the word קֹדֶשׁ (“holiness,” “apartness”); and the Theological Word Dictionary of the Old Testament defines it in this manner, “The noun qōdeš connotes the concept of “holiness,” (i.e. the essential nature of that which belongs to the sphere of the sacred and which is thus distinct from the common or profane). This distinction is evident in Lev 10:10 and Ezk. 22:26 where qōdeš occurs as the antithesis of ḥôl (“profane,” “common”).[5]

The New Testament word for sanctification in the Greek is ἁγιασμός (hagiasmos).  That term means consecration and holiness.[6]

Description of Sanctification

The doctrine of sanctification is a vast subject and filled with many resources from church history and now.  In terms of its vastness, there are a couple of things to consider regarding sanctification in terms of its stage.[7]  Sanctification has a definite beginning at regeneration, increases throughout one’s life, is completed at death; and until the Lord returns, it is never completed at this lifetime on earth.

In terms of how sanctification has a definite beginning at regeneration, please see Titus 3:5 which states “…washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”  The renewing denotes a moral change.  That renewing is a sanctifying term that happens in the context of sanctification.  Another good verse would be 1 Corinthians 6:11, “Such were some of you; 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.”  From this passage, what we can glean from is that there is some overlap between regeneration and sanctification.  The moral change is part of regeneration.[8]  It appears that sanctification and justification are two sides of the same coin because they occur simultaneously, but the two terms are different.  And just for the sake of clarity, let’s compare the two.

Justification is a legal standing given to those who place their faith in Christ.  The legal standing is once and for all and it is entirely God’s work that cannot be done by believers.  Every believer who is justified has a perfect standing in this life and all Christians who are justified are at the same level.  In terms of sanctification, it deals with an internal condition.  A person’s sanctification is continuous throughout one’s life and believers are expected to cooperate.  In terms of a continuous nature of sanctification, please see Hebrews 10:10.  In that verse, there is a key statement that conveys, “…we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  The Greek construction reveals a periphrastic perfect passive participle, which indicates that sanctification is a continuing present situation that resulted from a completed past action done for us by Christ.[9]   However, a person who is sanctified will never be perfect in this life (1 John 1:8-9). Moreover, unlike justification where we are on the same level positionally, sanctification on the other hand, reveals that some will be at different levels than others in their walk with God.  In terms of our sanctification being completed at death or when the Lord returns, the author of the book of Hebrews indicates that when we come into the presence of God to worship Him, we will come “to the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23).[10]  In 1 Cor. 15:50:58, Apostle Paul states that some will be raptured before they die (v. 52).[11]  In other words, what we learn from both these passages is that sanctification will never be completed during our time on earth.  It is evident, that the Bible does not teach perfectionism or sinlessness.  For example, in 1 John 3:6, the present-tense Greek verbs indicates continual or habitual activity in terms of holiness and sanctification.[12]  Clearly, the concept of perfectionism is thrown out the window.

Besides the stages of sanctification, we will examine God’s role in sanctification and man’s role in sanctification. In this area, two aspects of sanctification are taken into account: positional and progressive sanctification.  Although the Bible speaks much about progressive sanctification as a continual process where God and man cooperate so that the believer may conform to Jesus more and more (Hebrews 12:14 [“pursue peach with all men”]; 1 Thess. 4:3 [“abstain from sexual immorality”]; 1 Thess. 4:4 [“possess your vessel in sanctification and honor”]; 1 Thess. 4:7 [“not called us for the purpose of impurity”]; Rom. 6:19b [“present your members as slaves to righteousness”]; Phil. 2:12-13 [“work out your salvation in fear and trembling”]), there is, the aspect of definitive/positional sanctification which represents the Christian as being set-aside for God’s own possession; and is declared by His God as holy because of one’s faith in His Son (Acts 20:32 [“give you inheritance”]; Acts 20:32 [“inheritance” given to those who are sanctified]; 1 Cor. 1:2 [“ to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus”]; 1 Cor. 6:11 [“Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified”]; Eph. 5:26 [“so that He might sanctify her”]).[13]  For other verses concerning definitive/positional sanctification, please see Rom. 6:2, 6, 18; 7:4-6; 1 Peter 2:24; and 1 Peter 4:1-2.

We will also look at the effects of sanctification upon Christians.  Sanctification affects the intellect, emotion, and will.[14] In terms of intellect, Colossians 3:10 states that we have put on the new nature: “which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (cf. Phil. 1:9; Rom. 12:2; Col. 1:10; 2 Cor. 10:5).[15]  Some see two natures in the believer.  The old nature (“the flesh”) represents the believer’s capacity to serve self, sin, and Satan; the new nature (“the spirit”) signifies the capacity to serve others, righteousness, and God.  I believe Christians have one nature: the new man.  But what brings about the struggle in one’s life is attributed to the unredeemed flesh that he occupies.  In other words, sin uses the body as a vehicle to bring about transgression.  The believer must mortify it so that he could use His body as an instrument of righteousness.  In regards to his emotions, Paul indicates in Gal. 5:22 that we experience “love, joy, peace.”[16]  Peter commands believers in 1 Peter 2:11 “to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul.”[17]  In regards to our “will,” Paul addresses it when he was writing to the church in Philippi in Phil. 2:13.  Concerning God being at work in us, he said, “to will and to work for his good pleasure.”[18]

Another facet of sanctification are the motives towards God in one’s life.  There are many motives for obedience or the desire to be sanctified in the Christian life.  Motives for obedience can be seen in this manner: sanctification is the instrument that reveals the result of our vital union with Christ Jesus (John 15:5), is the outcome or consequence inseparable from regeneration (Rom. 8:9; Titus 3:5), is the evidence that the Holy Spirit dwells with His people (Gal. 5:25), is the only sure mark of God’s elect (1 Peter 1:2), is transparent means before others (Lk 6:44), is the call that every believer is responsible (Matt. 16:26), is the instrument that reveals progress or not (John 17:17; 1 Thess. 4:3), is the instrument that depends greatly on a diligent use of the Word of God (Psalm 119), is the instrument that does not prevent a man from having discomfort with his war between the old man and new man, is the instrument which cannot justify a man, but pleases God (1 John 3:22), is the instrument that gives witness or authenticates our character when God judges our life used in this world; and is the instrument used  in order to train and prepare His children for Heaven.[19]

The last section we will journey into is the beauty and joy of sanctification.  The more we grow in Christ, the more we will experience the “joy” and “peace” that are part of bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit given to us (Gal. 5:22).  Paul realizes that his true joy is found in God.[20]  He understands that when he is born-again in Christ, justified in Christ, which results in sanctification, he will receive eternal life (Rom. 6:22).  The person who delights in God, delights in His Word; and he will be blessed (Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:2).

[1]Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 746.

[2]Anthony A. Hoekema, “The Reformed Perspective,” in Five Views on Sanctification (Zondervan, 1987), 61.

[3]Kenneth Arnold Lesta, “The Nature of Sanctification”  (Doctor of Philosophy, Bob Jones University, Greenvile, SC, 1979), 25.

[4]Ibid., 25.

[5]Thomas E. Mccomiskey, “1990 קָדַשׁ” In , in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 787.

[6]Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1950), 5.

[7]Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 747-750.

[8]Ibid., 747.

[9]Ibid.,746; Dana and Mantey, A Manual of the Greek New Testament, (New York: NY, 1955), 232.  They speak of the periphrastic perfect in this manner: “The perfect participle and the present tense of εἰμί are used in this construction.  In function the periphrastic perfect is usually intensive, but there are several clear instances of a consummative force.”

[10]Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 749.  Sanctification will include new bodies (1 Cor. 15:50-58; 2 Cor. 7:1; and 1 Thess. 5:23) (ibid., 749).

[11]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 1 Co 15:52, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

[12]Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 751.

[13]Michael A. Vlach, “Theology III” (Unpublished syllabus, The Master’s Seminary, 2012), 210; Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd ed. (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 756.  The three verses: Acts 20:32; 26:18; and 1 Cor. 1:2 uses the perfect tense of hagiazō; and 1 Cor. 6:11 and Eph. 5:26 uses the aorist tense (ibid., 756).

[14]Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 756.

[15]Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 756; Bruce A. Demarest, The Cross and Salvation (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Ill 2006), 378.  Demarest notes that the Reformed tradition generally believes and identifies the Christian of having two natures.  The old nature is called the “flesh” sometimes and has the capacity to serve sin and Satan (ibid., 378).  The new nature is sometimes called “the spirit” which has the capacity to serve God, others, and righteousness (ibid., 378).  As a result, Christians are exhorted to implement Christ-likeness through the effort (1 Cor. 9:24; 1 Tim. 4:10; Heb. 12:1), struggle (Rom. 7:15-23; Gal. 5:17), warfare (Eph. 6:10-18; 1 Tim. 6:12), suffering (Rom. 5:3; Heb. 10:32-34), and chastening by God (Ps. 119:71; Heb. 12:5-11) via the power of the Holy Spirit who empowers Christians to be freed from the power of sin; and helps Christians mortify sinful impulses and wicked deeds of the flesh (ibid., 378).  At the end of the day, Romans 6 shows that there is a decisive, clear, and committed breach concerning the power and service to sin (ibid., 73).

[16]Ibid., 756.

[17]Ibid., 756.

[18]Ibid., 756.

[19]J.C. Ryle, Holiness (Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, NJ, 1970), 17-24.

[20]Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 758.

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Battle of the Mind

The Role of the Mind in Sanctification, Part 1

Definition of the Mind

Pastor John MacArhur says this about the mind, “No sin is more destructive to the conscience than the sin that takes place in the arena of the mind.”[1]

Since the mind is a serious discussion in regards to its role in sanctification, it is important to find a working definition.  Without a working definition, it will be difficult and impossible to find out its implications or its role in sanctification.  Paul J. Achtemeier defines the mind in this manner,

The English translation of various Hebrew and Greek words denoting the human capacity for contemplation, judgment, and intention. As intellect, mind makes possible the critical appraisal and selection of differing opinions. In this sense, mind may also describe one’s own mind-set, attitude, or characteristic point of view (e.g., Phil. 2:2-5). In both the OT and the NT, ‘heart’ is often used as the equivalent of ‘mind’ and, indeed, is sometimes translated as ‘mind’ (e.g., Isa. 65:17; Jer. 19:5). In the NT, Paul is especially concerned that the Christian’s mind be transformed by a renewed dedication to the will of God (Rom. 12:2). See also Conscience; Heart.[4]

Although, the OT and NT uses the heart as an equivalent of mind, the NT does seem to have a bit of nuance when compared to the OT use of לבב (heart).  For example, see Romans 12:2 concerning Paul’s use of the “mind” (νοῦς).  According to koine Greek it means to “to perceive,” “to note,” “to grasp,” “to recognize,” “to understand” (Mk. 7:18; Ac. 16:10; Eph. 3:4; 1 Tm. 1:7) “to consider,” “to note,” “to pay attention to.”[5]  It appears Paul’s usage of the mind, which is used around twenty-four times, refers to man’s cognition, thoughts, and human mind.[6]  The closest equivalent to νοῦς as stated before is לֵב/לֵבָב in the Hebrew.[7]

Description of the Mind

The mind can be used for evil.  Paul states in Romans 1:28, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”  Depraved people who have unregenerate minds are hostile to the Gospel and do not understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14).  But as Christians, we have the mind of God.  Because we have the mind of God, we are to have knowledge of Him (cf. Phil. 1:9; Rom. 12:2; Col. 1:10; 2 Cor. 10:5); and we are able to mediate and delight in Him and His wonders (Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:27).

[1]John F. MacArthur, Jr., The Vanishing Conscience (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994), 182.

[2]Paul J. Achtemeier, Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, 1st ed. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), 637-38.

[4]Ibid., 637-38.

[5]Vol. 4, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-), 950.

[6]Adam J. Landrum, “Can the Νοῦς [nous] Set You Loose? the Role of the Mind in Sanctification,” bible.org, http://bible.org/article/can-%CE%BD%CE%BF%E1%BF%A6%CF%82-nous-set-you-loose-role-mind-sanctification (accessed December 4, 2012).

[7]Landrum, “Can the Νοῦς [nous] Set You Loose? The Role of the Mind in Sanctification.”

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Battle of the Mind


For the purpose of this paper, I will attempt to cover the problem, importance of the study, scope of the study, context of the study, and the plan of the study concerning the role of the mind in sanctification.[1]

The problem has to do with unbiblical interpretations and hostile attacks from unbelievers and words and deeds against sanctification.  A mind that accepts the wrong view of sanctification can leave disastrous results for a Christian.

The utilization of the mind is expressed in various passages of Scripture.  The mind is mentioned in Luke 24:45 (use of the mind in understanding the Scriptures), Revelation 13:18; 17:9 (use of the mind in eschatological events), Romans 1:28 (the mind of the unregenerate), Romans 11:34 (the mind of the LORD), etc.  If the role of the mind is critical to the myriad of areas such as understanding Scripture, eschatological events, the mind of the unregenerate, then how critical is the role of the mind in sanctification (Romans 6:11; 7:14; 12:2; 14:5)?

Jesus Christ died and purchased His elect not only for our justification, but He died and purchased His elect for our sanctification.[2]  Our personal holiness is a serious demand from God because it reflects God’s nature that is required by God’s commandments.  It is also required by the mediation of His Son; and is required by God in order to glorify Him.[3]  John Calvin said this regarding those who just cared about justification, but not sanctification: “shamefully render Christ asunder.”[4]  People misrepresent Christ when they only care about justification.  Justification and sanctification are both important.  You can’t have one without the other.

Hence, due to the many erroneous views out there, it is imperative and important to study the role of the mind in sanctification.  We will cover the different dangerous views later, but just to satisfy some courtesy right now, it must be pointed out that there are people out there who substitute their fear of man for God.[5]  Instead of a biblically guided fear to use their minds for the glory of God, we fear others.[6]  And when we fear others, we ignore God’s Words.  The truth concerning the role of the mind in sanctification is at stake.  We cannot be tossed to and fro by the man-centered theologies of man.

The scope of the study will be centered on three facts and two commands that stem from the three facts.  The three facts are: the believer’s death (6:2b [permanence of death], 6:3b [spiritual act of death], 6:4a [union in death], 6:5a [picture of death], 6:6a [payment of death], 6:8a [companion of death]), the believer’s freedom (6:2c [freedom from duplicity], 6:6b [freedom from slavery], 6:7b [freedom from sin], 6:10a [freedom from bondage]), and the believer’s life in Christ (6:4b [new life], 6:5a [resurrection life], 6:8b [eternal life], 6:9 [victorious life], 6:10 [obedient life]).[7]  The two commands are these: believers are to remember their position (6:11) and to live out their position (6:12-14).[8]

The context of the study concerning the role of the mind in sanctification will be based on a foundational passage written by Apostle Paul from Romans 6:1-14.  The book of Romans was written sometime towards the end of Paul’s third missionary journey (A.D. 56).[9]  The theme of Romans deals with the righteousness of God, salvation, and the Gospel of Paul.[10]  The outline of the book is as follows: salvation (1-8), sovereignty (9-11), and service (12-16).[11]  To narrow in the context for the purpose of Romans 6:1-14, the first five chapters deals with justification by faith and chapter 6 deals with the Christian’s sanctification that is connected to His faith in Christ.[12]  Romans 6:1 is connected to Romans 5:20-21 (“The more sin, the more grace”).[13] The basis for holy living is connected with the Christian’s union with Christ death and life (Rom. 6:1-14) and also the believer’s slavery to God (Rom.  6:15-23).[14] Chapter 7 and eight deals with the believer’s life under grace; chapters 9 through 11 deals with Israel’s unbelief; and finally chapters twelve through sixteen deals with specific areas concerning the believer’s life/walk in this world.[15]  Since we are dealing mainly with Romans 6, it important to keep in mind that the first imperative for sanctification is located in Romans 6:11.  Romans 6:11 says, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”[16] There will also be a few interactions with some minor cross-references for the purpose of illustrating a point.

The plan of this essay is to provide much detail as possible concerning the role of the mind in sanctification from Romans 6:1-14 so that the believer will be able to best use his mind as a means in sanctification. [17]   In order to do that, I believe it would be effective to first cover the definition of the mind, description of the mind, definition of sanctification, description of sanctification, the role of the mind according to Romans 6:1-14, and erroneous views concerning sanctification.

I pray that this study will be edifying to you.  The mind is an important study.  As you all may know, the mind can either be used for the glory of God, the glory of Satan, the world, or our own personal, hedonistic autonomy.  I pray that you will choose the first choice: the mind utilized for the glory of God.

Please stay tune for the next installment.

[1]Nicholas John Amatuccio, “The Role of the Mind in Christian Sanctification According to Romans 6:1-14” (Th.M.Thesis, The Master’s Seminary, Sun Valley, CA, 2003), Table of Contents.

[2]Arthur W. Pink, The Doctrine of Sanctification (Swengel, PA, Bible Truth Depot), 30.

[3]Ibid., 32-38.

[4]Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, ed. D.A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 243.

[5]Edward T. Welch, When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man (Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 1997), 14.

[6]Ibid., 14.

[7]Pink, The Doctrine of Sanctification, 8.

[8]Ibid., 8.

[9]John MacArthur, The Macarthur Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 1655.

[10]Bob White, “Ordination Preparation” (unpublished syllabus, The Master’s Seminary, 2011), 46.

[11]Ibid., 46.

[12]Amatuccio, “The Role of the Mind in Christian Sanctification According to Romans 6:1-14,” 9.

[13]Ibid., 9.

[14]Ibid., 9.

[15]Ibid., 8-9.

[16]All Scripture is quoted from New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update unless otherwise noted.

[17]Amatuccio, “The Role of the Mind in Christian Sanctification According to Romans 6:1-14,” 10.

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