Survey of Romans
In the song, Refiner’s Fire, we sing “Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire, is to be holy, set apart for you Lord; I choose to be holy, set apart for You my Master, ready to do Your will” (Doerkson, 1990). To be holy and set apart for the Lord is our sanctification. Paul talks about the process of sanctification, why it is necessary, our commitment to it, and how God enables it in the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans.
Sanctification is the process of a believer becoming more holy and more Christ-like. The word sanctification comes from the Latin sanctificatio, meaning the act or process of making holy or consecrated. In the Greek New Testament the root hag- is the basis of hagiasmos meaning holiness. The root idea of hagiasmos is to stand in awe of something or someone. The hag- words in the Septuagint in Hebrew is qadosh which is to “separate, contrasting with the profane” (Butler 2003, 1443). God would certainly be the most separate and contrasting of the profane, therefore believers of God are separate. Paul states that as Christians “we died to sin” (Romans 6:1 ESV). This death to sin is our sanctification or our separating ourselves from the profane.
It is part of the sanctification process to allow ourselves to die. In dying to our will and our desires, we are gaining righteousness. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7 ESV). Aging is such as issue in our society. We view dying as a sad and devastating time. We view it as the end. Paul points out that our dying is due to sin being in this flesh. It is in the aging and dying of the body that we gradually grow in sanctification. It is a shedding of the sin as the snake sheds skin. “Our conformity to the death of Christ obliges us to die unto sin” (Henry 1991, 2207). We conform and shed this flesh-filled sin to gain our holy image in order to transform into the holy image and live in the eternal presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Through sanctification we become more Christ-like. It is in this process that we show others Christ and allow Him to shine through us. Our sanctification is important for our own righteousness and also to others. We can preach sanctification all the time, but the life we live in front of others is the best testimony we will ever have. It is through this lifestyle others will see a reason to believe and a reason to desire Christ.
Paul speaks of the commitment of a Christian to holy living. He states “we may too have a new life” and “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:6 ESV). To state that we are dead from sin is Paul’s way of very bluntly saying that we are separate from it. When something dies we no longer have contact or connection with that being or person. To consider our sins dead is to be completely separate from them. This separation is part of the process and commitment of sanctification.
Paul stresses both the individual’s commitment to sanctification and God’s enabling in order for sanctification to be possible. In verse 16 he states “you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness”. Paul is emphasizing that it is up to the individual to commit to holy living. Paul is straightforward and points out that choosing sanctification leads to righteousness and choosing sin leads to death. It is in choosing a life of sanctification that a person gains a more righteous life. “Death pays all debts, so those who have died with Christ have the slate wiped clean, and are ready to begin their new life with Christ freed from entail of the past” (Bruce 1985, 143). “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?…But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness…” (Romans 6:22 ESV). Paul is showing us in verse 22 that those who have no evidence of sanctification in their life are not showing evidence they were ever justified. It is our commitment daily to choose devotion to a more sanctified way of life.
Paul also tells us that God enables sanctification. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Bruce 1985, 146). Eternal life is a “gift of God”. Our sanctification may be a daily commitment on our part but it is all possible because of the free gift of life through Jesus Christ. Due to this gift, believers are allowed to experience security in eternal life while we are on earth and an eternity with Him after this life. Paul adds the statement that this is a “gift from God” because he reminds us that our salvation is secure. Salvation is not dependent on our sanctification, but the lack of a desire for sanctification may lead one to doubt salvation.
As Doerkson sings about the refining fire he is comparing the process of purifying silver and gold to the purification of a believer. In refining metals your result will be a precious treasure. Paul explains the glorifying process where we become precious refined treasures in Christ through sanctification. Paul leads us to understanding of why it is necessary, our commitment to it, and how God enables it. Sanctification is a beautiful process and causes a song in the heart “my heart’s one desire, is to be holy, set apart for you Lord; I choose to be holy, set apart for You my Master, ready to do Your will” (Doerkson, 1990)