Chapter 13.1, part two
April 9, 2013
i. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
In telling us how sanctification happens--really and personally--the Confession identifies a double agency: God's Word and God's Spirit.
The Spirit's role in sanctification should be evident from what has been said already about regeneration. In regeneration, the Holy Spirit penetrates a sinner's life and creates a new heart--a heart for holiness.
This new heart is a dwelling place for God's Spirit, who enables the process of sanctification to continue. The Spirit constantly exudes holiness, sanctifying whatever he touches. In this case, because the heart is the control center of a person's life, the indwelling Spirit is able to spread holiness out from the heart into every dimension of a believer's life.
The main thing the Holy Spirit uses to produce holiness is the Word of God. In fact, the Bible has such a central role in this process that the Confession virtually treats it as a second agent of sanctification.
The vital connection between God's Word and our holiness is something that experience readily confirms. Believers who neglect God's Word in their daily or weekly routine quickly lose ground in their struggle with sin. By contrast, Christians who prioritize reading the Bible and listening to sermons always make progress in holiness.
Knowing this helps us to take proper responsibility for our personal sanctification. Holiness can only come from the Holy Spirit. But God has told us what the Spirit uses to help us make progress in holiness. The Spirit uses the Word, which God invites us to take and read.
Dr. Philip G. Ryken is the president of Wheaton College.