Reformed Baptist Fellowship

The Motive of Sanctification

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on March 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm



Abraham Booth (1734-1806)

.Christ indeed finds His people entirely destitute of holiness and of every desire after it, but He does not leave them in that state. He produces in them a sincere love to God and a real pleasure in His ways…

The vast importance of sanctification and the rank it holds in the dispensation of grace appear from hence: It is the [goal] of our eternal election—a [primary] promise and a distinguished blessing of the Covenant of Grace; a precious fruit of redemption by the blood of Jesus; the design of God in regeneration; the primary intention of justification; the scope of adoption, and absolutely necessary to glorification…Sanctification, therefore, may be justly denominated a [primary] part of our salvation and is much more properly so termed than a condition of it. For to be delivered from that bondage to sin and Satan under which we all naturally lie and to be renewed after the image of God must certainly be esteemed a great deliverance and a valuable blessing.

Now, in the enjoyment of that deliverance and in the participation of this blessing consist the very essence of sanctification. Hence, the word is used to signify that word of divine grace by which those that are called and justified are renewed after the image of God. The effect of this glorious work is true holiness or conformity to the moral perfections of the Deity. In other words, love to God and delight in Him as the chief Good…To love the Supreme Being is directly contrary to the bias of corrupt nature. For as natural depravity consists in our aversion to God, which manifests itself in ten thousand various ways, so the essence of true holiness consists inlove to God. This heavenly affection is the fruitful source of all obedience to Him and of all delight in Him, both here and hereafter. Nor is it only the true source of all our obedience: it is also the sum and perfection of holiness because all acceptable duties naturally flow from love to God

The persons on whom the blessing of sanctification is bestowed are those that are justified and in a state of acceptance with God. For concerning them, it is written—and it is the language of reigning grace: “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts” (Heb 8:10). The blessing here designed and the favor here promised are that love to God and that delight in His Law and ways that are implanted in the hearts of all the regenerate. [These constantly incline] them to obey the whole revealed will of God as far as they are acquainted with it. Sanctification is a New Covenant blessing; and in that gracious constitution, it is promised as achoice privilege, not required as an entitling condition.

Those happy souls who possess the invaluable blessing and are delivered from the dominion of sin are not under the Law, neither seeking justification by it nor [exposed] to its curse. [They are] under grace, completely justified by the free favor of God, and live under its powerful influence. This text strongly implies that allwho are under the Law as a covenant or [whoare seeking acceptance with the eternal Judge by their own duties are under the dominion of sin, whatever their characters may be among men or however high their pretenses may be to holiness. And as those that are under the Law have no holiness, they can perform no acceptable obedience…A man’s person must be accepted with God before his works can be pleasing to Him.

To set the subject in a clearer light, it may be of use to consider that to constitute a work truly good, it must be done from a right principle, performed by a right rule, and intended for a right endIt must be done from a right principle: this is the love of God. The great command of the unchangeable Law is “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God” (Deu 6:5; Mat 22:37). Whatever work is done from any other principle, however it may be applauded by men, is not acceptable in the sight of Him Who searches the heart. For by Him, principles as well as actions are weighed.

It must be performed by a right rule: this is the revealed will of God. His will is the rule of righteousness. The Moral Law, in particular, is the rule of our obedience. It is a complete system of duty; and considered as moral, [it] is immutably the rule of our conduct…

It must be intended for a right end: [this] is the glory of the Supreme Being. “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1Co 10:31) is the peremptory command of the Most High. As this is the end for which Jehovah Himself acts in all His works, both of providence and grace, so it is the highest end at which we can possibly aim. No man, however, can act for so sublime an end but he that is taught of God and fully persuaded that justification is entirely by grace… For until then, he cannot but refer his supposed good actions principally to self and his own acceptance with God. This is the highest end for which such a person can possibly act, though he often proposes other and baser ends. But those works that are truly good and that the Holy Spirit calls the fruits of righteousness are, in the design of their performer as well as in the issue, to the glory and praise of God…

To confirm the argument and to illustrate the point, I would observe that man is a fallen creature, entirely destitute of the holy image and love of God. So far from loving his Maker or delighting in His ways, he is an enemy to Him…Neither the commands of the Divine Law—though the strictest and purest imaginable—nor all the vengeance threatened against disobedience to those commands can work in our hearts the least degree of love to God the Lawgiver

Fallen man, therefore, cannot love God but as He is revealed in a Mediator. He must behold his Maker’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ before he can love Him or have the least desire to promote His glory. Now, as there is no revelation of the glory of God in Christ but by the Gospel, and as we cannot behold it but by faith, it necessarily follows that no man can unfeignedly love God or sincerely desire to glorify Him while ignorant of the truth. But as there is the brightest display of all the divine perfections in Jesus Christ, and as the Gospel reveals Him in His glory and beauty, so through the sacred influence of the Holy Spirit sinners behold the infinite amiableness and transcendent glory of God in the Person and work of Immanuel. The Gospel [is] a declaration of that perfect forgiveness that is with God and of that wonderful salvation that is by Christ, [both of] which are full, free, and everlasting. By whomsoever the Gospel is believed, peace of conscience and the love of God are in some degree enjoyed, while in proportion to the believer’s views of the divine glory revealed in Jesus and his experience of divine love shed abroad in the heart will be his returns of affection and gratitude to God as an infinitely amiable Being, considered in Himself as inconceivably gracious to needy, guilty, unworthy creatures. His language will be, “What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Psa 116:12; 103:1).

Being born from above, he delights in the Law of God after the inward man (Rom 7:22) and is habitually desirous of being more and more conformed to it, as it is a transcript of the divine purity and a revelation of the divine will. Now he is furnished with that generous principle of action: love to God. The obedience he now performs and that which God accepts is but the obedience of a child or of a spouse, not the service of a mere mercenary in order to gain a title to life as a reward for his work, much less of a slave that is driven to it by the goad of terror. [It is the obedience] of one who regards the divine commands as coming from a father or from an husband. Being dead to the Law, he lives to God (Gal 2:19).

I said, “Being dead to the law.” This is the case of none but those that are poor in spirit and have received the atonement in the blood of Christ, those who rely on His work alone as completely sufficient to procure their acceptance with God and as perfectly satisfying an awakened conscience, respecting that important affair. So the Apostle: “Ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ…But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held” (Rom 7:4, 6). In these remarkable words, the believer is described as being dead to the Law and the Law as dead to him. By which are signified that the Law has no more power over a believer to exact obedience as the condition of life or to threaten vengeance against him in case of disobedience than a deceased husband has to demand obedience from a living wife; or because of disobedience to threaten her with punishment…But though the Law, as a covenant, ceases to have any demands on them that are in Christ Jesus, yet as a rule of conduct and as in the hand of Christ, it is of great utility to believers and to the most advanced saint. Nor, thus considered, is it possible that it should be deprived of its authority or lose its use. For it is no other than the rule of that obedience that the nature of God and man and the relation subsisting between them render necessary. To imagine the Law vacated in this respect is to suppose that relation to cease that has ever subsisted—and cannot but subsist—between the great Sovereign and His dependent creatures, who are the subjects of His moral government. Nor, thus considered, are its commands burdensome or its yoke galling to the real Christian. He approves of it! He delights in it after the inward man (Rom 7:22)! For, as a friend and a guide, it points out the way in which he is to manifest his thankfulness to God for all His favors. And the new disposition he received in regeneration from his Law-fulfiller inclines him to pay it the most sincere and uninterrupted regards. The obedience he now performs is in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter (Rom 7:6).

Should any pretenders to holiness, the genuine offspring of the ancient Pharisees, object that by faith we make void the Law, our answer is ready: “God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom 3:31), both by the doctrine and the principle of faith. By the doctrine of faith: because we teach that there is no salvation for any of the children of men without a perfect fulfillment of all its righteous demands. This, though impossible to a fallen, enfeebled creature, was punctually performed by Messiah the Surety. [This righteousness] being placed to the account of a believing sinner renders him completely righteous. Thus the Law, so far from being made void, is honored, is magnified, and that to the highest degree! The obedience performed to the preceptive part of the Law by a divine Redeemer, and the sufferings of an incarnate God on the cross in conformity to its penal sanction, more highly honor it than all the obedience that an absolutely innocent race of creatures could ever have yielded [or] than all the suffering that the many millions of the damned can endure to eternity. By the principle of faith: for as it purifies the heart from an evil conscience through the application of atoning blood, so it works by love—love to God, His people, and His cause, in some degree conformable to the Law as the rule of righteousness…If anyone therefore pretends to believe in Christ, to love His name, and to enjoy communion with Him, who does not pay an habitual regard to His commands, he is “a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1Jo 2:4). For our Lord…informs us also that the reason why any one does not keep his sayings is because he does not love Him, whatever he may profess to the contrary. That is no love, which is not productive of obedience; nor is that worthy [of] the name of obedience, which springs not from love. Pretensions to love without obedience are glaring hypocrisy; and obedience without love is mere slavery…The Gospel only can furnish us with such principles and motives to obedience as will cause us to take delight in it. When we know the truth as it is in Jesus, then, and not until then, the ways of wisdom will be ways of pleasantness. Then faith will work by love to God and our neighbor.

From The Reign of Grace, from Its Rise to Its Consummation

Abraham Booth (1734-1806): English Baptist preacher; considered one of the most learned men of his day; born in Blackwell, Derbyshire, England.

  1. Reblogged this on The Protestant Pulpit and commented:
    A very good read.

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