Two terms used by theologians
1. Imputed righteousness
2. Imparted righteousness
Imputed righteousness: Says that we are unrighteous and there is nothing in us that deserves me the favour of God. But what Jesus does is, He comes and covers us and when God looks at us He doesn’t look us but Christ and declares us righteous. It is imputed to us on the merits of Christ, he covers, overwhelms us and God looks at it and says “I see Jesus there and because of Jesus I don’t hold anything against you, you are now my child.” But imputed righteousness itself is incomplete.
Imparted righteousness: Jesus doesn’t only cover us from outside and leave us unclean inside. God says “yes the imputed righteousness is come to you, but I want to impart my righteousness in you.” Meaning that Christ not only is going to cover you but He is going to come inside you and He wants to clean you from the inside. Hence the sanctification is also called baptism of the Holy Spirit. Therefore holiness is simply the life lived under the total lordship of Jesus Christ.
Holy Spirit is simply Jesus in the Spirit form. And He has come to indwell us. And so the distinguishing mark of the person filled with the Holy Spirit is basically and essentially the reflection of the character of Christ, because the character of Christ begins to be reflected in our hearts and the image that we lost in the garden, the image that God has created now begins to be restored and the process begins.
There is a marked distinction between a pure heart and a maturing character. The pure heart is the result of sanctification. But the result of what has happened in the sanctification is the growth that now begins the maturity that now begins to come who is filled with the Holy Spirit. The maturity of character comes after the self been crucified and after everything has been surrender to Christ, as we go moment by moment in our lives, the maturity doesn’t come instantly, overnight. A baby cannot be expected to leap and jump in an early age. The baby has to fall down sometimes, taught, instructed, supported and the baby makes mistakes. Same way we as sanctified believers make mistakes and fall down. And falling down is not the problem, but staying there.
There is a difference between a sinful nature and human nature. Sinful nature is simply the self-centredness with which we were born. It is a condition that we live in. Therefore the sinful nature is a broken relationship with God. This condition has so permeated our lives and hearts, but in sanctification God has purged us and taken out the self-centred element at our kneeling down and surrendering it and asking Him to crucify it on the cross for us. But what we are left with is our human nature. It will not be eradicated; this will have its personality and its characteristic traits. Some people have the humorous personality. God is not going to take that humorous heart but He will purify it by taking out the self-centredness out of it and use it for His glory.
The characteristic traits that God is given to us they are not going to be changed but they are going to be purged, cleansed and they are going to be enhanced in their own potential. Some are extrovert and some introvert but they are not going to change. The core motive of the heart is going to be changed. Because of the human nature will remain the first possibility of temptations. Human nature is prone to temptations. Temptation is different from sin. The Bible says that the temptation is the suggestion to pervert the good. The suggestion comes from the liar, the enemy Satan. And he tells us to do the right thing in a wrong way. Yielding to temptation is sin. All of us are going to be tempted. But what we do with the temptation will determine whether we sinned or not.
Is it possible for a sanctified person to sin? At sanctification we are not made a kind of people who are unable to sin but we are made a kind of people who are able not to sin. God doesn’t put in a mechanism at sanctification that we will never sin, but what he does create is a heart and a capacity that is able not to sin. God gives this gradual hatred for sin. We are made people able not to sin. The gradual hatred of that which does not glorify God is given to us.
On a moment by moment basis, on everyday basis, what we begin to experience is that the things that are sinful become irrelevant, less of interest to us and we begin to grow that we now experience that we are able not to sin. It is not sinless perfection, but it is the perfection of heart. In Philippians 3:11, Paul says “brethren I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do forgetting those things which are behind and reaching towards those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He says that he wants to practise the excellence of heart in such a way that his love for God will be perfected. Holy Spirit indwells in us and He empowers us to live our lives, which is pure in God’s sight.
So the process starts we encounter temptations, we deal with the issue of sin, the tests then begin to come. Satan like a roaring lion begins to shoot its darts at us. Many times it is through sicknesses, relationships. And there are infirmities in the process of sanctification, where sometimes we make wrong judgements; the wrong words come out of our mouth, sometimes we rub with people the wrong way, sometimes we even come to a place where we doubt, but these are the stepping stones of our faith in the progressive sanctification. And we climb higher and higher and each stepping stone moulds us into the likeness of Christ, everyday, moment by moment we begin to reflect the nature of Christ. And as we encounter all the weakness of our flesh, at every episode of these things, there is a thread of God’s grace that sustains us.
God allows us to go through this process of sanctification but He doesn’t leave us alone in the process. He supplies His grace to us. But He says “you can either nourish or nurture the grace or we can frustrate that grace.” The choice is ours. And we win or lose by the way we choose. The magnificent aspect of the process of sanctification is that the incredible sanctifying grace is given to you and me. And that grace comes to our hearts (now pure); it begins to create impulses and responses in us that make us hungry and thirsty for God more and more.
And we find the things that used to attract us and appeal us (things that did not glorify God), and we naturally crave for the presence of God. We begin to crave for prayer life, please God, and thirst for His love and like other people. And so the love for God begins to be ignited, and love for other people, especially those who do not Jesus, we begin to crave for the harvest of souls. The deliberate sin, the wilful transgression of the known will of God, if we are sanctified persons we will find that we will not go and break the heart of God, we love Him so much. And in that divine romance there is always a possibility of us going unfaithful in our ways and thoughts. God keeps us interested in Him; He keeps us burning for Him and gives us the grace. And then the character of Christ begins to become visible to us.
In the process of sanctification we need to understand that the power of God is given to us for our daily use, the purity of God is given to me for daily relationships, the gift of the Spirit to us and the fruit of the Spirit also begins to grow in us. We receive power in the baptism of Holy Spirit but I also received purity. God is calling for balanced people, who will say that yes character and power both things are important. The gift we have will take us to high place but the character will keep us there. So the character must accompany the gift. It is the baptism of fire, it’s is the fire that consumes our self-centredness. It takes away the bent sin from us. It literally means that the cloth immersed in dye. So the cloth is in the dye and the dye is in the cloth, Jesus living in us in the Spirit form. And one day when we finish our journey here, we will be totally sanctified which is called the glorification, the highest form of sanctification.