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Have You Received
the First Blessing?

The Holy Spirit does a work within the believer whereby He sanctifies us. This is an experience within the Christian.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “ . . . you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

The context tells us all the sins of these saints that were covered by the blood of Jesus. God chose the believer unto “salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13; cf. 4:7; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 15:16). Paul has in mind the ultimate goal, our final salvation.

God chose us in the deep counsels of eternity on the basis of His grace and love, and not because of any personal merit on our part. It is all of grace and love. The means God uses to bring us to salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit who sets aside chosen individuals to live holy lives. The Holy Spirit regenerates, indwells, baptizes the believer into the body of Christ, etc. The individual believes in the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ because the Holy Spirit has done His work in our hearts. Then throughout the life of the believer the Holy Spirit applies the Word of God to progressively purify the Christian’s life.

Sanctification by the Holy Spirit is the first blessing of God’s work in the heart of the believer. This first blessing leads to the full knowledge of justification by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ for our sins.

No one can be saved without this first work of the Holy Spirit in the heart. The sanctification by the Spirit in the heart brings the believer unto obedience to the sacrifice of Christ. We come to knowledge of our justification when the Holy Spirit brings us to faith in the death of Christ for our sins. His precious blood cleanses the soul of every sinful stain. The blood of Jesus alone makes you acceptable before God. The Holy Spirit brings you to faith in Jesus Christ.

We have been chosen by the Father, purchased by the Son and set apart by the Holy Spirit.

The apostle Paul in the opening chapter of Ephesians lays great stress on what God in grace had done for us. The Trinity is involved in our salvation. God the Father chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world. The Son of God saved when He died for me on the cross. The effectual calling of the Holy Spirit saved me one Sunday morning when my mother and my pastor shared the Gospel and I was born again. It took all three Persons of the Godhead to bring me to salvation. If we separate these ministries, we will either deny divine sovereignty or human responsibility; and that would lead to heresy. 

I often hear people say, “But I don’t feel justified.” Our justification has nothing to do with our feelings. The critical question is, “Do you believe God is satisfied with the work of atonement Jesus Christ accomplished as your substitute upon the cross?” If you believe Jesus is your substitute who died for you on the cross, then God has declared you are justified.

Don’t play the doctrine of sanctification against the doctrine of justification as if one is more important than the other. Both doctrines are vital to our full salvation.

Sanctification is not justification. Justification is not something the Holy Spirit does in your heart. Justification is the declaration by the heavenly Judge acquitting you of your guilt. God justifies the believing sinner, based upon the atonement of Christ on your behalf. God acquits you because you have taken Him at His word regarding the death of Jesus Christ. Justification is based upon what Christ did for you on the cross. It is your standing before a righteous and holy God.

Sanctification is not a “second blessing”; it is your first blessing. It is what the Holy Spirit does at the beginning in your soul and continues throughout your life until He presents you complete in your glorified sinless body in the presence of God at the coming of Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23-24; Phil. 1:6). He will have completed His work in you on that glorious day, and not before then (cf. 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 2 Thess. 1:10; 2:2; 1 Cor. 1:18; 3:13; 2 Cor. 1:14; Rom. 13:12).

Every born again person has received the Holy Spirit and has been set apart to God. Because of His indwelling presence we long for the time when the Spirit will have reached His goal in our lives and we shall become absolutely and forever sinless and holy. When we see Jesus Christ in glory we will be forever wholly sanctified.

As we walk in the Spirit we live holy lives, and we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16, 17; Eph. 5:18). The only way to live the Christian life is occupation with Christ. All He asks of us is to yield ourselves to Him. As we make ourselves available to Him He lives His life in and through us.

You don’t need a second blessing; you need to appropriate by faith the first blessing of the Holy Spirit. You only need to walk in the Spirit. The Christian life is not a sudden growth of spirituality, acquired through a special blessing, but a steady, sincere, patient walk in the Spirit, in uninterrupted growth in grace and knowledge of Christ.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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