Sanctification: restoring God’s image in believers?

Some thoughts in progress here…let me know what you think. 

1 Peter 2:24

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, (hina, “in order that”) we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness…

2 Corinthians 5:15

And he died for all, (hina, “in order that”) those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

From an earthly perspective (not including entrance to heaven, which is also very important) why did Christ die for me? He died so that I could live for Him. We often cheapen the concept of living for God — what does it mean to live for God? think about it like this:

Think about the original state of creation — individuals brought into existence by the very breath of God, created in his image, created for God – to glorify Him (Gen. 3:15, Col. 1:16).

Think about what happened at the fall of man — the tempter did his thing, he tempted. Adam and Eve sinned; as a result, death passed upon all men. The image of God in man was in some sense tarnished, ruined, tainted, lost, etc.

The work of the cross enables us to once again live for God – to reflect his glory. When its work is applied to our lives, the grace of the cross empowers men to begin to display the image of God once again (2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 8:29). That’s sanctification — the work whereby God, through the Spirit, progressively restores the image of God in us.

Recently, some have argued that since Christians are not all they should be, that we have misunderstood what actually happened on the cross. Our problem isn’t one of misunderstanding, it’s one of disobedience.

  1. #1 by Phil on November 20, 2007 - 11:27 am

    You’re sounding downright Wesleyan in this post!

    I actually agree with your assessment. I think obedience is something that people all across the theological spectrum need to focus on more.

  2. #2 by clearly on November 20, 2007 - 11:39 am


    I don’t think you’d find a true Weslelyan that believes in progressive sanctification.

    This is the first time I have really dared to post my “rough thoughts” on my blog. Anyway, that being said, Wesleyans don’t believe in progressive sanctification really at all — they believe that sinless perfection is possible on this earth. My point is that progressive sanctification is really bringing us closer and closer back to the image of God in which we were created. However, this work will not be complete until glory — until final sanctification. That being said, if we are being changed into the image of Christ — I don’t see how we can distinguish between that and the image of God, unless of course we don’t believe them to be equal.

    “That’s sanctification — the work whereby God, through the Spirit, progressively restores the image of God in us.”

  3. #3 by David Dunbar on January 3, 2009 - 4:22 pm

    I believe my brother you have hit the nail on the head. Disobedience is the problem.

    I am of weslyean teaching all my life and now ordained in the teaching,and I must say I was close minded as they come when it came to believing sinless perfection could be obtained here on earth. Boy was I wrong! I would wonder and even fight with myself If I was perfect after sanctification {entire} then how was it it that I was still sinning in my heart and given in to temptation.

    I was even called on the carpet to explain how was I perfect and I could not give the answer.

    Years later and lots of reading listening to God and others I realized we cannot be perfect. That is only an attribute God can claim for himself. We are not to be perfect except only in our heart, intentions, the will. It is the desire to be perfect in our heart as God is perfect

    In other words we are to seek God in love and allow him to change our fallen nature over time, { oops, dare I say it progressive sanctification from a weslyean, lol}. I still believe in a crises moment in a believer’s life when God has prepared the individual to recieve the Holy Spirit and be cleansed from the desire to sin [i.e sin nature] but it does not perfect us and even with this cleansing and restoration of the moral holiness of God,[ the desire to serve and please God like Adam and Eve] it still has to be done on a daily basis. A daily confession of sin, ommision and commission. If we fail to do this we mock God and disobey him because he calls us to daily confession and renewal.

    Psalm 51:10-12 (New International Version)

    10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

    11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.

    12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me

    Romans 12
    Living Sacrifices
    1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    Romans 8:10 (New International Version)
    10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

    Colossians 3:5-10 (New International Version)

    5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[a] 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

    1 John 1:5-10 (New International Version)

    Walking in the light
    5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[a] sin.
    8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

    1 John 5:18 (New International Version)

    18We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share what I have been yearning to know and share.

    David Dunbar

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