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WCF 13,16

CHAPTER 13, 16
Of Sanctification

1. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

2. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

3. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

CHAPTER 16
Of Good Works

1. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention.

2. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.

3. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of his good pleasure: yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

4. They who, in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin, or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins, but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.

6. Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

7. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.

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WLC Q&A – 75-78

Q. 75. What is sanctification?

A. Sanctification is a work of God’s grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.

Q. 76. What is repentance unto life?

A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, and upon the apprehension of God’s mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, he so grieves for and hates his sins, as that he turns from them all to God, purposing and endeavoring constantly to walk with him in all the ways of new obedience.

Q. 77. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?

A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

Q. 78. Whence ariseth the imperfection of sanctification in believers?

A. The imperfection of sanctification in believers ariseth from the remnants of sin abiding in every part of them, and the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit; whereby they are often foiled with temptations, and fall into many sins, are hindered in all their spiritual services, and their best works are imperfect and defiled in the sight of God.

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WSC Q&A 35

Q. 35. What is sanctification?

A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

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Belgic Confession Article 24

ARTICLE 24 – OUR SANCTIFICATION AND GOOD WORKS

We believe that this true faith, worked in man by the hearing of God’s Word and by the operation of the Holy Spirit,1 regenerates him and makes him a new man.2 It makes him live a new life and frees him from the slavery of sin.3 Therefore it is not true that this justifying faith makes man indifferent to living a good and holy life.4 On the contrary, without it no one would ever do anything out of love for God,5 but only out of self-love or fear of being condemned. It is therefore impossible for this holy faith to be inactive in man, for we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls faith working through love (Gal 5:6). This faith induces man to apply himself to those works which God has commanded in His Word. These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, since they are all sanctified by His grace. Nevertheless, they do not count toward our justification. For through faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do any good works.6 Otherwise they could not be good any more than the fruit of a tree can be good unless the tree itself is good.7

Therefore we do good works, but not for merit. For what could we merit? We are indebted to God, rather than He to us, for the good works we do,8 since it is He who is at work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). Let us keep in mind what is written: So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty (Luke 17:10).” Meanwhile we do not deny that God rewards good works,9 but it is by His grace that He crowns His gifts.

Furthermore, although we do good works, we do not base our salvation on them. We cannot do a single work that is not defiled by our flesh and does not deserve punishment.10 Even if we could show one good work, the remembrance of one sin is enough to make God reject it.11 We would then always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be constantly tormented, if they did not rely on the merit of the death and passion of our Saviour.12

1. Acts 16:14Rom 10:171 Cor 12:32Ezek 36:26-27John 1:12-13;John 3:5Eph 2:4-6Titus 3:51 Pet 1:233John 5:24John 8:36Rom 6:4-61 John 3:94Gal 5:22Titus 2:125John 15:5Rom 14:231 Tim 1:5Heb 11:4Heb 11:66 Rom 4:57Mat 7:1781 Cor 1:30-311 Cor 4:7Eph 2:109Rom 2:6-71 Cor 3:142 John 8Rev 2:2310Rom 7:2111James 2:1012Hab 2:4Mat 11:28Rom 10:11.

Heidelberg Catechism 86-91

Lord’s Day 32

 

86. SINCE, THEN, WE ARE REDEEMED FROM OUR MISERY BY GRACE THROUGH CHRIST, WITHOUT ANY MERIT OF OURS, WHY MUST WE DO GOOD WORKS?

Because Christ, having redeemed us by His blood, also renews us by His Holy Spirit after His own image, that with our whole life we show ourselves thankful to God for His blessing,[1] and that He be glorified through us;[2] then also, that we ourselves may be assured by our faith by the fruits thereof;[3] and by our godly walk win also others to Christ.[4]

[1] Rom 6:13, 12:1-21 Cor 6:201 Pt 2:5-10; [2] Mt 5:161 Cor 6:19-201 Pt 2:12; [3] Mt 7:17-18Gal 5:6, 22-242 Pt 1:10-11; [4] Mt 5:14-16Rom 14:17-191 Pt 2:12, 3:1-22 Pt 1:10

 

87. CAN THEY, THEN, NOT BE SAVED WHO DO NOT TURN TO GOD FROM THEIR UNTHANKFUL, IMPENITENT LIFE?

By no means, for, as Scripture says, no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like shall inherit the kingdom of God.[1]

[1] 1 Cor 6:9-10Gal 5:19-21Eph 5:5-61 Jn 3:14-15

 

Lord’s Day 33

 

88. IN HOW MANY THINGS DOES TRUE REPENTANCE OR CONVERSION CONSIST?

In two things: the dying of the old man, and the making alive of the new.[1]

[1] Rom 6:4-61 Cor 5:72 Cor 5:17Eph 4:22-24Col 3:5-10

 

89. WHAT IS THE DYING OF THE OLD MAN?

Heartfelt sorrow for sin, causing us to hate and turn from it always more and more.[1]

[1] Ps 51:3-4, 17Joel 2:12-13Rom 8:12-132 Cor 7:10

 

90. WHAT IS THE MAKING ALIVE OF THE NEW MAN?

Heartfelt joy in God through Christ,[1] causing us to take delight in living according to the will of God in all good works.[2]

[1] Ps 51:8, 12Isa 57:15Rom 5:1, 14:17; [2] Rom 6:10-11, 7:22, 8:10-11Gal 2:20

 

91. WHAT ARE GOOD WORKS?

Those only which proceed from true faith,[1] and are done according to the Law of God,[2] unto His glory,[3] and not such as rest on our own opinion[4] or the commandments of men.[5]

[1] Jn 15:5Rom 14:23Heb 11:6; [2] Lev 18:41 Sam 15:22Eph 2:10; [3] 1 Cor 10:31; [4] Deut 12:32Isa 29:13Ezek 20:18, 20; [5] Num 15:39Mt 15:7-9