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Confessions of a Converted Catholic: Sanctification

November 6, 2009

In this series, Confessions of a Converted Catholic, we are exploring some of the basic precepts of Christianity through the eyes of someone who, for the better part of my life, was raised Catholic.  Our first exploration was on the topic of salvation, this time, I thought we would delve into the process of Sanctification.  Again, I would like to state this is not an attack against the Catholic church or meant to provoke hostility.  My desire is for those who either grew up Catholic and are now lost or those who are still practicing Catholics with questions to have some honest conversations about the basic precepts of Christianity.

Noted Bible scholar Jack Hayford, in his excellent book titled: “ Hayford’s Bible Handbook,” defines Sanctification as follows:

“The work of God’s grace by which the believer is separated from sin and becomes dedicated to God’s righteousness. Accomplished by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, sanctification results in holiness, or purification from the guilt and power of sin. Sanctification is instantaneous before God through Christ and progressive before man through obedience to the Holy Spirit and the Word.”

In the most basic definition, Sanctification is the process by which, once saved and committed to Christ, our lives become different, daily in most cases.  In Romans 6, Paul tells the church that we are to be dead to sin, and that we are no longer slaves to our sinful nature, but can receive freedom in Christ.  Sanctification is the process, at times aggressive, that involves the work of the person to obediently conform to the image of Christ by dying daily to their sinful nature and choosing to follow Christ.

Sanctification was taught to me in a way that I could understand it, however, the more I began to study Catholic theology, the more I began to blend my salvation with sanctification.  It was only recently in my faith the understanding of “Sanctification as a result of salvation” really began to sink in.  In most classes I took, sanctification was a process that was labor intensive for me (as it should be), but where I got off track was equating my “denying of self” into “earning my salvation.”  This is completely backwards for many of my Protestant friends to understand as I was growing up.  For me, the way I was taught Sanctification was again, Christ plus the Church or Christ plus the sacraments or Christ plus Fill in the blank.

weight+of+the+worldWhen I think of how long I carried the unneeded weight of this burden, I immediately begin thanking Christ for what He did for me on the cross, and for what He continues to do in my life.  Sanctification is not the process of becoming blameless or perfect, it is dying to self and conforming to the image of Christ.  To think for years I struggled and often gave up on trying to please Christ and earn salvation through what (looking back I can see) was Sanctification.  Again, the foundation of this gross error in interpretation is to think I can do anything to earn the righteousness of God.

So what is the bottom line if you’re reading this?  For me, the biggest lesson I learned early in my freedom was that Christ paid the price of my salvation, He asks for my obedience.  My obedience to Him and the process He uses in my life to conform to His image is the precept known as Sanctification.  So simple, yet I was lost for 28 years in this.  If you’re lost, thinking you have to earn your salvation through anything other than believing in Christ as the Son of God and your Lord and Savior, please email me directly.  I would love to help answer your questions and show you the freedom Christ bestows on us.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry.

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