Marcus Serven is a speaker at our upcoming conference The Highway of Holiness. In this video, he talks about the synergistic work of sanctification as compared to the monergistic work of justification.
One of the key texts that talks about this interplay between holiness and also knowing that you are complete in Christ is this one from Philippians 2:12-13, where Paul says:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
The interesting dynamic in that text, is that you have Paul making an exhortation that you are to work out your own salvation, and if that’s all that he said you would get the impression that it’s all up to you. You have to make the effort, you have to grow, reform yourself, change yourself, put off the old man and put on the new. But then he goes on to say that not only do you make efforts, but God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
That’s the wonderful dynamic of sanctification. You work and God works. In that respect, whereas justification is a single effort, it’s monergistic in the sense that only God does it. He changes you and declares that you are no longer under His judgment. In contrast, sanctification is synergistic. The Holy Spirit is working in you, but you’re cooperating in this whole effort, you’re working out your salvation in fear and trembling.
It’s an interesting tension point in sanctification, you’re making efforts as you’re convicted of your own sin, you’re making resolutions, you’re going to change your speech, have different values, live a different way, use your money differently, submit your future to the Lord – all these human resolutions. But God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. That brings out the cooperative nature in sanctification, and I think this is one of the key texts to understand sanctification properly.
To learn more about this subject, please consider joining us next month in Asheville, NC, to hear Marcus’ message titled: Definitive And Progressive Sanctification.