The book of Isaiah 6 gives a graphic and glorious illustration of the doctrine of sanctification.
V3 “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty” all the angles singing to him “holy holy holy.” They are looking at the very face of God and describing who God is. They are bringing forth the beauty of God’s nature. They are bringing in the revelation of the very being of God. They are proclaiming the very substance of God. They are giving us the glimpse into the very depth of God in making us realise what really is the essence of God.
Unless and until, we have the right concept of God we will not have the right concept of life, sanctification and we will not understand what victory is and way before we reach for it we will be defeated. What they are saying is “Holy the father, Holy the son, Holy the Holy Spirit.” The glorious trinity is revealed. The trinity is involved in sustaining me, in sanctifying me and in giving me the status to stand on. What then is the essence of God? What is the substance of God?The very substance of God is Holy, Holy, Holy. God is:
1. Holy Holiness – He is spotlessly and immaculately holy. If he was all holy, all glory and all majesty to him then we would not be able to have relationship with him. He is pure and there is more to it.
2. He is Holy Love – Love is intertwined with his holiness. And his agape love, which brings him down to us. And because of that love he does not treat us as our sins deserve. But as the east is far from the west he removes our sins from us. He pities us.
3. Holy Grace – If we were to hold God’s holiness and his love for us to see, there is one thread that runs through these two elements and it is the Grace. His divinity is on this grace and that’s what is revealed to Isaiah. The grace of God is that unmerited favour to man. We do not deserve it, we cannot earn it and we cannot work for it and yet he bestows it upon us. We cannot even repent upon our own. As the book of Romans tells that it is your grace that leads me to repentance.
What are we supposed to do? The bible tells us that such a God has made you and me in his likeness, in his image. If we have a mirror and if we like to see the image we need to stand before the mirror in the right position. And if you and I are image of God then we need to stand before God in right position. He created us like him and therefore he is loving and he wants us to be loving. He is holy and he wants us to be holy and he is grace and he wants us to have the grace.
V5 “Woe is me”, Isaiah cried. Once we understand who God is, we come to understand who we are. The concept of sanctification is said that sanctification is subsequent to regeneration. It’s subsequent to us knowing God first. Unless and until we get to that point in our lives where we can say “now I know God”, we do not realise who we are. It is the self realisation that takes place after one knows God. Isaiah was a prophet. He was not an unbeliever. He was anointed by God. He has known Yahweh. But when he comes in contact with such a majestic God, when he is exposed to this holy God, holy love and holy grace he begins to realise that he being prophet is not enough. There is something missing in his life. He says “I am undone”, and “I have come to realise who I am. The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. In a humble confession he says “I have a problem and my problem is my lips.” Essentially in Hebrew culture the lips symbolise the heart. They deeply believe that whatever was in the heart was expressed through the lips. They symbolise the flesh life in me. They symbolise the sinful nature with which I was born.
After I have come to know God and Jesus personally I have come to know my problem. Unbelievers do not come to know that because they do not know Jesus.
Very real but very sad words are used by Christians. “I can’t.” Again and again we hear the words from real people you and me. We have the I can’t mentality comes on a regular basis. After we come to know the Lord, “I love god but I can’t stop gossiping.” “I can’t stop showing off.” “I can’t stop my anger.” “I can’t stop drawing attention.” “I can’t stop worrying.”These are the confessions of not unbelievers but of the believers. Simple reason is although the sins are forgiven the nature the problem of the heart is not dealt with. Like Isaiah instead of realising what that problem is and instead of coming fresh before God and saying “God I surrender this problem to you.” What we do is we try to tame and control that problem in our own way. So we try to discipline ourselves, at the end of the day that is your selfish effort to control the problem in a selfish way. And we try to practise some of those things that we feel will give us some kind of victory that will set us free from this “I can’t.” But the more we try the more we struggle. And that is the testimony of Apostle Paul “the very thing that I want to do and the very thing that I desire to do in my heart, I end up doing exactly the opposite.” That’s what Christians do.
The bible says that “I can’t” is what carnal Christians say. And carnal Christians make a carnal Church. Carnal simply means physical, opposing spiritual, trying to solve the problems in the physical instead of letting the spiritual, impact the physical, trying to discipline physical things, being professional religious people outside. A religion may change from outside but the Spirit of Jesus will change you from inside. And our tendency is to try and fix our problems and others problems from outside.
A real Christian doesn’t live his life with a set of Do’s and Don’ts, sin not only breaks God’s law but also His heart. It offends Him and saddens Him. It’s like breaking someone’s heart that loves me. That’s what happened to Isaiah.
V6 “live coal” When we are talking about the fire and the power of God we are talking about his love. His love is like fire that consumes and engulfs us. It begins to burn all impurities and ugliness in our lives. It is holy love of God that brings him from his throne to me. Then a deep cleansing starts. He touches his lips. The inequities are taken away. Sanctification is also called as divine purging it is like the tube from God that sucks all our impurities. The self centeredness is burnt.
So now when the self centeredness dies, he will alter your agenda. All my plans are now his plans, my dreams are now surrender on the throne, my ideas are gone, my opinions I don’t even have one, my likes and dislikes are bundled and surrendered at his feet.
And that is the starting point for your sanctification. The fire and purging only gives way to the progressive sanctification and to the process of sanctification.