More Resources on Soteriology: The Biblical Doctrine of Salvation

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E. The Body of Sin Is Indeed Destroyed, Not Merely Counteracted

 

BDAG[1] provides the following definition for the verb katargeo (katarge÷w), translated destroy in Romans 6:6:

katarge÷wfut. katargh/sw; 1 aor. kath/rghsa; pf. kath/rghka. Pass.: 1 fut. katarghqh/somai; 1 aor. kathrgh/qhn; pf. kath/rghmai (s. aÓrge÷w; since Eur., Phoen. 753; Polyb.; POxy 38, 7 [49/50 AD]; PFlor 176, 7; 218, 13; PStras 32, 7; 2 Esdr; TestSol [also PVindobBosw for 18:38]; AscIs 3:31; Just.).

      1. to cause someth. to be unproductive, use up, exhaust, waste of a tree k. th\n ghvn Lk 13:7 (cp. aÓrgei√ oujde«n aÓlla» karpoforei√ OdeSol 11:23).

      2. to cause someth. to lose its power or effectiveness, invalidate, make powerless fig. extension of 1 (so, above all, in Paul and the writings dependent on him; cp. Herm. Wr. 13, 7 kata¿rghson t. sw¿matoß ta»ß ai˙sqh/seiß; of the soul of Jesus: k. ta» e˙pi« kola¿sesin pa¿qh Iren. 1, 25, 1 [Harv. I 205, 4]) make ineffective, nullify th\n pi÷stin touv qeouv God’s fidelity Ro 3:3. e˙paggeli÷an Gal 3:17; cp. Ro 4:14; ta» o¡nta k. nullify the things that (actually) exist 1 Cor 1:28. to\n no/mon make the law invalid Eph 2:15; cp. Ro 3:31 (RThompson, ETh 63, ’87, 136–48, on alleged rabbinic background; s. also iºsthmi A4). Also in B of the OT cultic ordinances, which have lost their validity for Christians 5:6; 9:4; 16:2.

      3. to cause someth. to come to an end or to be no longer in existence, abolish, wipe out, set aside ti« someth. ta» touv nhpi÷ou set aside childish ways 1 Cor 13:11. Of God or Christ: God will do away with both stomach and food 6:13; bring to an end pa◊san aÓrch/n, e˙xousi÷an, du/namin 15:24. to\n a‡nomon 2 Th 2:8. to\n kairo\n touv aÓno/mou put an end to the time of the lawless one (i.e., the devil) B 15:5. to\n qa¿naton break the power of death 2 Ti 1:10; B 5:6; pass. 1 Cor 15:26 (MDahl, The Resurrection of the Body [1 Cor 15], ’62, 117–19). to\n to\ kra¿toß e¶conta touv qana¿tou destroy the one who has power over death Hb 2:14. iºna katarghqhvØ to\ sw◊ma t. aJmarti÷aß in order that the sinful body may be done away with Ro 6:6. In 2 Cor 3:14 the subject may be hJ palaia» diaqh/kh or, more probably (despite some grammatical considerations), ka¿lumma; in the latter case the mng. is remove.—Pass. cease, pass away profhtei÷a, gnw◊siß 1 Cor 13:8. to\ e˙k me÷rouß what is imperfect vs. 10. a‡ra kath/rghtai to\ ska¿ndalon touv staurouv the cross has ceased to be an obstacle Gal 5:11. pa◊ß po/lemoß katargei√tai every war is brought to an end IEph 13:2. katargou/menoß doomed to perish of the a‡rconteß touv ai˙w◊noß tou/tou 1 Cor 2:6. Of the radiance on Moses’ face 2 Cor 3:7. Subst. to\ katargou/menon what is transitory vss. 11, 13.

      4. to cause the release of someone from an obligation (one has nothing more to do with it), be discharged, be released. In our lit. pass. katargouvmai aÓpo/ tinoß of a woman upon the death of her husband kath/rghtai aÓpo\ touv no/mou touv aÓndro/ß Ro 7:2. Of Christians k. aÓpo\ touv no/mou be released fr. the law vs. 6. Of those who aspire to righteousness through the law k. aÓpo\ Cristouv be estranged from Christ Gal 5:4.—Frisk s.v. 2 aÓrgo/ß; also DELG s.v. e¶rgon. M-M. EDNT. TW.

The lexicon places Romans 6:6 in category 3, “to cause something to come to an end or to be no longer in existence, abolish, wipe out, set aside,” specifically translating the portion of Romans 6:6 in question[2] as “in order that the sinful body may be done away with.” This is also the category of katargeo in the verse with the syntax that is closest to Romans 6:6 in the NT, namely, Hebrews 2:14: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.”[3] In both Romans 6:6 and Hebrews 2:14, the verb katargeois an aorist subjunctive[4] within a subordinate hina clause that gives the Divine purpose (which brings a certain result) of the main clause. The certain result of cocrucifixion with Christ is the destruction of the body of sin, Romans 6:6; the certain result of the incarnation and death of Christ is the destruction of the devil, Hebrews 2:14. The similar syntax of katargeoin the aorist subjunctive within a hina clause in 1 Corinthians 1:28[5] also means much more than simply “counteract,” as does the final instance of the word in the aorist subjunctive in 1 Corinthians 15:24.[6]

Indeed, all four of the definitions for katargeo (katarge÷w) given by BDAG, each of which is certainly countenanced in the New Testament, mean more than simply “counteract.” None of them can reduce Romans 6:6 to simply “that the body of sin might be counteracted.” Definition #1, which is only used in the New Testament for a tree that makes ground unproductive, is not especially relevant to Romans 6:6. If one wanted to affirm that Romans 6:6 is an instance of definition #2 of katargeo, a restriction of the verse to “counteraction” does not fit; the body of sin “lose[s] its power or effectiveness, [is] invalidate[d] [and made] powerless” by its destruction from cocrucifixion. Advocates of the view that the strength and power of the flesh within believers is entirely unchanged through the course of one’s life, and is thus equally powerful and living years and decades after regeneration as it is a minute after conversion, do not believe that there is any loss of power or effectiveness in the flesh at any point in one’s Christian life. The “counteraction” view does not fit BDAG definition #2; something that is invalidated and made powerless has much more done to it than a simple counteraction, and a translation of katargeo as “invalidated” in the verse comes out to mean something very similar to “destroyed.” The “religious sense [of katargeo], which is almost exclusive to Paul . . . means . . . ‘to make completely inoperative’ or ‘to put out of use.’”[7] Such a meaning signifies far more than counteraction. If the flesh grows powerless and ineffective over the believer (not that the flesh itself gets better, Romans 7:18, but that it has less power) as it is gradually mortified and weakened until, at the moment of Christ’s return or the believer’s death, it is entirely destroyed, the significance of katargeoin Romans 6:6 comes out to mean just about the same thing whether one assigns it to definition #2 of BDAG or keeps the verse in #3, where the authors of the lexicon place it. Finally, if one affirmed Romans 6:6 is an instance of definition #4 (although that definition fits the verse poorly), it would not assist the advocates of simple counteraction. Advocates of “counteraction” in Romans 6:6[8] believe that the Christian can instantly return to life under the power of the flesh and of sin when he ceases to maintain the moment-by-moment faith decision that counteracts the flesh and keeps him in the realm of freedom from acts of sin, and then instantly return again to life under the power of Christ when he restores a moment-by-moment faith decision to counteract the flesh. (It should be noted that there are significant elements of truth here, in that one receives supplies of grace to mortify sin by faith in Christ, by looking to Him for that grace and strength, and that there is indeed a very clear Biblical distinction between one who is deliberately clinging to known sin and one who is seeking for and looking to Christ for deliverance from all sin, who has an evangelical sincerity—cf. 1 Corinthians 11:27-29.[9] However, there is more to sanctification than this alone—one who is in a state of being right with God, who is evangelically sincere, also experiences progressive deliverance from the power of sin and progressive renewal into the image of Christ.) Definition #4 is employed for a woman who is separated from her husband on account of his death, and compared to the freedom of the Christian from the law (Romans 7:2, 6). A woman whose husband has died can never go back to her dead husband and resume the marital relationship. A believer is eternally secure and can never again be condemned by the law. The relation between a Christian and condemnation, and a widow and her dead husband, is not simply a “counteraction” of their connection so that the believer can again be lost or the widow can be remarried to her dead spouse. This idea simply does not fit the use of the word. There is no flip-flopping in Romans 6:6 from one category of believer who experiences katargeo of the flesh and another category of believer that does not experience katargeo for his flesh. (This is not to say, however, that a believer cannot have times when he is holding on to some sin and thus is losing ground spiritually and hindering the work of the Spirit to renew him into the image of Christ, and so is giving the flesh room for greater power as it lusts against the Spirit for dominance, Galatians 5:17. He can face setbacks where he allows sin to reign in more of his mortal body than it was when he was consciously surrendered to God in all areas, Romans 6:12.) Nor does Romans 6:6 give the least hint that the destruction of the sinful body or the freedom from service to sin is a sort of higher Christian life only attained by certain believers at certain times. The verse states a truth about all the saints, about all who died with Christ on the cross and become experientially cocrucified with Him in regeneration. Romans 6 is an explanation of why believers will not live in sin, rather than being only an explanation of how believers may not live in sin (although it does explain this as well, especially in connection with chapters 7-8). Thus, none of the definitions for katargeo in BDAG can be reduced to a mere counteraction of the flesh.

It is not surprising that, since none of the four definitions of katargeo listed in BDAG fit the idea that there is a mere counteraction of an unchanged, unweakened fleshly principle in Romans 6:6, an examination of all the verses in the N. T. with the verb provides not a single clear instance where such a “counteraction” idea, rather than one of the categories of use listed in BDAG, is required by the inspired text.[10] On the other hand, large numbers of verses clearly testify to a sense of “destroy” for the verb.[11] Similarly to BDAG, the Louw-Nida Greek lexicon[12] does not include “counteract” among its definitions for katargeo, while “to cause to cease to exist . . . to cause to come to an end, to cause to become nothing, to put an end to” is listed. Thayer’s lexicon[13] is similar, prominently including the “destroy” idea but not listing “counteract” as a definition. The Liddell-Scott lexicon,[14] representing the classical Greek background, classifies Romans 6:6 as “to be abolished, cease” and does not list “counteract” as a definition of the verb.[15] In “the LXX . . . [the verb] occurs only . . . with the meaning ‘to destroy,’”[16] and in the earliest documents of Christiandom after the completion of the New Testament, the apostolic patristics, the verb likewise only signifies “to destroy.”[17]

F. Gradual Deliverance From The Power Of Sin Is Consistent With the Aorist Subjunctive Of “To Destroy” (katargeo) In Romans 6:6

If progressive destruction of the flesh as a result of crucifixion with Christ is indicated in Romans 6:6, one might ask why the verb to destroy is an aorist, not a present subjunctive. A number of considerations suggest themselves. First, the ultimate destruction of the sinful flesh in connection with the believer’s entry into heaven is appropriately expressed by the aorist subjunctive. Glorification is truly a point action, the work of a moment. Had a present subjunctive of katargeo been employed in Romans 6:6, it could convey the idea that the body of sin is continually being destroyed and that there is no point in the future when it is actually utterly abolished. A present subjunctive would at least allow for, if not actually affirm, the continuance of the existence of the sinful flesh in believers in heaven. Cocrucifixion with Christ does not bring only a limited deliverance from sin, but absolute and total conquest over it and its utter destruction in every believer. The aorist, not the present subjunctive is the tense to use to express this idea.

One also notes that Romans 6:6 states “that henceforth we should not serve [douleuein, douleu/ein] sin” employs a present, not an aorist, infinitive. Durative or progressive action is the consistent use of the present infinitive of douleuo (douleu/w) in the New Testament (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; Romans 6:6; 7:6; Galatians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). From the moment of regeneration on through eternity future, the believer is permanently and continually freed from bondage to and the service of sin. While there is undoubtedly a very dramatic change in the fullness of the saint’s service of God at glorification, his freedom from the slavery to and service of sin is a continual action that begins at the moment of his conversion and continues from that time onward without interruption. While this freedom from the service to sin is appropriately expressed with a Greek present tense, a continuing action of the same nature is not an appropriate way to express the destruction of the sinful flesh in the saint. That fruit of cocrucifixion is completed in a particular instant. There are no remnants of sin left in the believer to destroy from the time he enters glory to all eternity to come. A present subjunctive of katargeo would not fit the sense of Romans 6:6 as well as an aorist.

The aorist of katargeo does not eliminate the fact of the progressive weakening of the cocrucified body of sin during the believer’s lifetime. The common category of the constative aorist “treats the act [of the verb in question] as a single whole entirely irrespective of the parts or time involved. If the act is a point in itself, well and good. But the aorist can be used also of an act which is not a point.”[18] While a constative aorist does not eliminate the possibility of progressive destruction of the body of sin in this life culminated at glorification, an even better view takes the aorist of katargeo in Romans 6:6 as effective,[19] so that the aorist emphasizes the completion of the action of destruction without eliminating the possibility of a progressive beginning.[20]

The emphasis the aorist subjunctive places upon the final completion of the destruction of the sinful flesh at glorification in the hina clause of Romans 6:6 does not eliminate the progressive mortification and weakening of the body of sin because of cocrucifixion any more than the aorist subjunctive verb “sanctify” and its dependent aorist participle “cleanse” in the hina clause of Ephesians 5:26 eliminates the fact that Christ progressively sanctifies and washes the church by the Word as it is preached, taught, and received until the expected day when He completes the work at His coming and “present[s] . . . to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).[21] A good case could be made that Hebrews 2:14 contains an effective aorist verb, just like Romans 6:6 and Ephesians 5:25-27. The use of katargeo in Hebrews 2:14 is, as noted earlier, syntactically very similar to Romans 6:6—the ultimate destruction of the devil in the lake of fire is assured by the death of Christ, but the fact that the Lord Jesus, through the conversion of sinners, starting of churches, and even Satan’s Millennial binding (Revelation 20:1-3) achieves many partial victories that forecast Satan’s ultimate demise is not eliminated because of the aorist in Hebrews 2:14. One can also note that the aorist subjunctive of katargeo in 1 Corinthians 15:24 is employed for the action of Christ of progressively putting down all His enemies, until He finally destroys the last enemy, death (15:24-26). Indeed, the parallel between Christ progressively defeating all His enemies until they are finally destroyed in 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 is very close to the progressive defeat and ultimate destruction of sin in the life of the believer in Romans 6:6. Comparable examples of katargeo and related texts about sanctification in the New Testament thus provide excellent support for taking the destruction of the body of sin in Romans 6:6 as a gradual process during life that culminates in sin’s final defeat at the believer’s glorification, employing an effective aorist.

Furthermore, the present subjunctive of katargeo is not found anywhere in the New Testament—all instances of the subjunctive are in the aorist (Romans 6:6; 1 Corinthians 1:28; 15:24; Hebrews 2:14). Nor are there any instances of the verb in the present subjunctive in the apostolic patristic writers.[22] The present subjunctive of the verb may not have been much of a live option at all.

Thus, employing the aorist subjunctive of katargeo in Romans 6:6 to state that “that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” does not by any means negate the gradual weakening of the power of the flesh in progressive sanctification, while it emphasizes the ultimate destruction of sin in the believer at glorification. The connection with the present infinitive of “serve,” a comparison with the aorist subjunctive in connection with sanctification in Ephesians 5:25-27, the categorization of the aorist in both Romans 6:6 and in Hebrews 2:14 as effective, the comparison to Christ’s progressively dominant reign in 1 Corinthians 15:24-26, and the nonexistence of the present subjunctive of katargeo in the New Testament and related Koiné literature all validate the appropriateness of the aorist. Indeed, a present subjunctive for the verb would be inappropriate, as it would suggest that even in heaven sin is not ultimately destroyed, but only progressively weakened. The aorist subjunctive in the purpose clause of Romans 6:6 is the appropriate tense to express the gradual mortification of sin and its ultimate utter abolition in glory that is the certain result of the believer’s cocrucifixion with the Lord Jesus Christ in regeneration.

G. How Does God Make Believers More Holy in Progressive Sanctification?

As proven in the earlier portions of this composition, in regeneration, God supernaturally changes the predominant inclination of the believer from unholiness and rebellion to obedience. The one who has been born of God no longer is unable to do spiritual good or follow after God (Romans 3:11; John 6:44, 65; Jeremiah 13:23), nor is he enslaved to fleshly lusts. His entire person—mind, affections, spirit, soul, body, will, and heart—all of his being is made new in regeneration and then progressively renewed into the image of Christ by sanctification. His spiritual portion is given a new inclination towards holiness, and a knowledge and understanding of God, both of which were absent before his regeneration, and his body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. In progressive sanctification, by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, the influence of indwelling sin is gradually weakened, and the new nature of the saint strengthened. Progressive sanctification is the continuation and strengthening of the new principles imparted at regeneration, a process completed at glorification.[23] In progressive sanctification, the Christian’s intellectual and practical knowledge of God increases, as does the strength of the predominant bent of his will, his inclination in his soul, towards holiness. Likewise, the influence of his ethically sinful flesh, of his remaining spiritual tendency towards evil, weakens. As God fills him with holy moral qualities (Romans 15:13), he becomes “full of goodness” (Romans 15:14c), of inward personal holiness, and “filled with all knowledge” (Romans 15:14d), intellectual and experiential knowledge of God and His Word, with the result that he performs holy actions (Romans 15:14e). This inward progressive transformation, performed by the supernatural power of the Spirit of God, leads to his performance of holy actions. His body also becomes more holy as he more and more separates himself from all that defiles it. When he is glorified, his inclination towards holiness becomes absolute and fixed, indwelling sin is utterly extirpated, he enters into full knowledge of God, and he receives a perfectly holy glorified body. He becomes entirely holy, body, soul, and spirit, and fit to the absolute limit of his created capacity for fellowship with and the knowledge and service of his Triune God, as the moral image of Christ is made perfect in him.

The changes within the believer in regeneration, sanctification, and glorification are not physical in the sense that anything in the substance of a believer’s humanity changes. An unregenerate man possesses the same human nature as a regenerate man. Birds, fish, and mammals on the redeemed Millennial earth will still be members of the same created kinds, possessing the same animal substance, with their progenitors in the current world-system. A less holy Christian possesses the same type of body, soul, and spirit as a more holy one, and in the New Jerusalem the saints will still be truly and genuinely human, even as their incarnate Savior possesses a true and complete human nature, redeeming, as the second Adam, the full humanity that He assumed in the incarnation. Thus, there is no alteration in the believer’s substance in progressive sanctification. Mortification does not eliminate any constituent element of his humanity, nor does vivification impart any new physical element.

Regeneration and progressive sanctification begin and continue an ethical change, not a physical one, within the Christian.[24] The new nature imparted to the believer in regeneration is not a change of the substance of his humanity, but a new inclination, a change in the bent of the faculties of his soul and spirit. He comes to possess knowledge of God and the ability and desire to love, commune with, and obey Him. The development and growth of this new nature to maturity (cf. 1 John 2:12-14; Ephesians 4:13) is a spiritual and ethical development, not a physical and substantial one. When Scripture speaks of the flesh as the controlling power in the unregenerate and as a sinful element in the Christian, reference is not made to the human body as such, but to an ethical and immaterial inclination towards evil that reigns in the children of the devil and continues to afflict God’s children in their earthly pilgrimage, although it is dethroned. In progressive sanctification, mortification does not not eliminate elements of the human substance, nor does vivification add new physical constituents; rather, the spiritual and ethical revolution that reversed the believer’s ultimate allegiance from sin to holiness is strengthened. Thus, speaking substantially, progressive sanctification does not involve either the weakening or eradication of any elements of human nature, but speaking ethically, progressive sanctification involves the weaking and progressive eradication of the flesh and the growth and development of the new holy nature imparted at the moment of the new birth, an ethical alteration that will be completed only at glorification with the full restoration of moral likeness to Christ.[25]

III. The Certainty of Practical Sanctification For All The Regenerate

A. Scripture Clearly Teaches That All Saved People Will Be Changed

Scripture teaches that all who have been regenerated, and are consequently crucified with Christ, will be practically sanctified. There is no such thing as a justified man who is totally unchanged[26]—indeed, there is no such thing as a believer who does not have a supernatural, evident change (Matthew 13:8; Mark 4:8, 20).[27] A few of the many texts that prove this esssential Biblical doctrine will be examined.[28]

1 Corinthiains 6:9-11 and Galatians 5:18-24 teach that true believers will not be fornicators, idolators, adulterers, sodomites, thieves, and so on, because they have a new nature, being now “washed . . . sanctified [and] . . . justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). The “unrighteous” (a‡dikoß) of 6:11, who will be excluded from God’s kingdom, is the “unjust” (a‡dikoß) of 6:1, the one who is not a brother but an unbeliever (6:6). Indeed, Scripture regularly contrasts the believer and the unbeliever as “the just and the unjust” (dikai÷wn te kai« aÓdikw◊n, Acts 24:15; cf. Matthew 5:45; 2 Peter 2:9), but the regenerate are never called “unrighteous” in the Bible.[29] All believers are, in contrast, not the “unrighteous” (a‡dikoß, v. 9) but those God views as righteous (dikaio/w, v. 11) because of their justification and sanctification. A contrast is not made between backslidden believers and obedient believers in v. 9-11, but between the people of God and the children of the devil. Similarly, Galatians 5:18-21 contrasts the believers in the church at Galatia (“ye/you,” 5:18, 21) with the unsaved (“they,” v. 21). Those who receive condemnation in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:18-24 are not backslidden believers, but the unregenerate.

When the Bible affirms that “they which do such things [oi˚ ta» toiauvta pra¿ssonteß, those who practice such sins as the dominant characteristic of their lives] shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21), it is impossible to interpret the warning that those who practice such sins “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:11; Galatians 5:21) as merely a loss of reward for those who actually end up in heaven anyway. None of the 18 references to the verb inherit (klhronome÷w) in the New Testament distinguish between a higher class of believers that inherit the kingdom and a lower class that somehow are saved but do not have an inheritance (Matthew 5:5; 19:29; 25:34; Mark 10:17; Luke 10:25; 18:18; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 15:50; Galatians 4:30; 5:21; Hebrews 1:4, 14; 6:12; 12:17; 1 Peter 3:9; Revelation 21:7); rather, the overwhelming contrast is between those who are saved, and thus “inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19:29), “inherit the kingdom” (Matthew 25:34), “inherit the [Millennial] earth” (Matthew 5:5), “inherit eternal life” (Mark 10:17), “inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:21), and “inherit all things” (Revelation 21:7), and the lost who do not inherit eternal life.

Similarly, the related noun inheritance (klhronomi÷a) is regularly used to contrast what all saved people receive and all usaved people do not. Ephesians indicates that all who have the indwelling Spirit have the inheritance (1:13-14), all the predestinated have the inheritance (1:11; cf. 1:18), but “no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (5:5), for all such are “the children of disobedience” under the “wrath of God” (5:6; cf. 2:1-3) who have not been brought into union with Christ by faith and inwardly changed (2:4-10) and made into “children of light” (5:8). All those who have been “begotten . . . again” have an “inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” (1 Peter 1:3-4). While the noun inheritance is sometimes used for the physical passing on of property to heirs by those who have deceased (cf. Luke 12:13), the noun, like the verb to which it is related, never contrasts a higher class of saved people from a lower class of those who are saved but have no inheritance (Matthew 21:38; Mark 12:7; Luke 12:13; 20:14; Acts 7:5; 20:32; Galatians 3:18; Ephesians 1:14, 18; 5:5; Colossians 3:24; Hebrews 9:15; 11:8; 1 Peter 1:4).

Furthermore, not one of the seventy-two verses in the New Testament that employ the phrase kingdom of God indicate that some saved people will be in the kingdom and others who are saved will somehow not enter the kingdom (Matthew 6:33; 12:28; 19:24; 21:31, 43; Mark 1:14-15; 4:11, 26, 30; 9:1, 47; 10:14-15, 23-25; 12:34; 14:25; 15:43; Luke 4:43; 6:20; 7:28; 8:1, 10; 9:2, 11, 27, 60, 62; 10:9, 11; 11:20; 12:31; 13:18, 20, 28-29; 14:15; 16:16; 17:20-21; 18:16-17, 24-25, 29; 19:11; 21:31; 22:16, 18; 23:51; John 3:3, 5; Acts 1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31; Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 4:20; 6:9-10; 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; Revelation 12:10). While there certainly are phases of the kingdom, from its current spiritual form (Romans 14:17) to its future Millennial and eternal aspects (Revelation 12:10), all the lost are outside of the current spiritual form of the kingdom and will be excluded from its Millennial and eternal phases, and no saved person is outside of the present spiritual kingdom, nor will any of the saved be excluded from the coming Millennial and eternal aspects of the kingdom. The contrast in Scripture is consistently between those who “enter into the kingdom of God” and those who are “cast into hell fire” (Mark 9:47) without any third category of saved people who do not enter the kingdom.

Sound exegesis makes it obvious that 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Galatians 5:18-24 teach, as do many other passages (Ephesians 5:5; 1 John 3:3-10; Revelation 21:8, 27; etc.) that no saved person, because he has received a new nature in regeneration, will be dominated by and continually practice sins such as fornication, theft, or idolatry. Since Scripture states, “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), someone who states that believers can be fornicators, idolators, drunkards, extortioners, and so on, is teaching exactly the opposite of what God has declared in His Word. Such a person has been deceived, and should heed the Scripture: “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:5-6).

Many further passages of Scripture likewise teach the impossibility of a believer living just like an unconverted person. Just as, because of the dominant sin principle in him, it is impossible for an unbeliever to truly do good works, so it is equally impossible for a believer to be dominated by ungodly works, because of the dominant Divine principle of grace (Matthew 7:18-19), and thus the fact that everyone who does not do good works will be damned (Matthew 7:19) does not in any wise undermine eternal security. Christ’s promise is that “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:18). One notes that the parallel passages make it very clear that good works, not simply orthodox doctrine, is intended by good fruit (Matthew 3:8-10; Luke 6:43-48; Matthew 7:26-27—although orthodox doctrine is included within the larger category of good works).

The New Testament or Covenant (Hebrews 8:8-12; 9:15; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Jeremiah 31:31-34) involves God’s promises of certain obedience: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Scripture is very clear that people who are dominated by sin will not enter the kingdom of God because they have never been saved.

John 15:1-11 teaches that the one who does not, as a summary of his life, continue (note the aorist tense in 15:6 for meno) faithful to Christ is, as a branch without genuine connection to the Lord, and one consequently with only an outward profession of Christianity, cast into hell fire, where he will be continually burned (present tense, 15:6) for all eternity. The image of John 15:6 is not one of loss of reward for a believer who never brings forth any fruit. Other than John 15:6, the verbs “cast forth” (ballo) and “burned” (kaio) are found together only in Revelation 8:8; 19:20. Neither reference speaks of believers being cast forth or burned. Revelation 19:20 (cf. 20:11-15; 21:8, “the lake which burneth (kaio) with fire and brimstone”), however, demonstrates that the lost will be “cast (ballo) . . . into a lake of fire burning (kaio) with brimstone.” Furthermore, out of 125 instances of the verb “cast forth” (ballo) in the New Testament, believers are never once said to be cast forth by God, but the lost are, over and over again, said to be cast (ballo) into the fires of hell (note Matthew 3:10; 5:13, 25, 29-30; 7:19; 13:42, 48; 18:8-9; Mark 9:42 (cf. vv. 41-48), 45, 47; Luke 3:9; 12:58; 14:35; Revelation 2:22; 12:4, 9, 13; 14:19; 18:21; 19:20; 20:3, 10, 14-15). Thus, the verse indicates that a total lack of fruit is evidence of a non-living connection to the vine and thus of a unregenerate individual. The present tense of ballo, in “cast” them into the fire, refers vividly (cf. the present tenses in Matthew 3:10; 7:19; Luke 3:9; Revelation 2:22) to the unconverted being cast into eternal torment. The judgment of the lost in hell fire is associated with a similar plant and fruit-bearing image to that of Matthew 3:10; 7:19; Luke 3:9. These unregenerate, apostate, “withered” and fruitless branches (cf. Jude 12; Job 8:11-13; James 1:11), of which Judas is the contextual example in John 15, are often “cast forth” (also ballo, here aorist, as in Mark 9:45, 47; Revelation 20:15) in a certain sense in this life, through outward apostasy from the church, to which they had been outwardly united (cf. Matthew 13:47), whether voluntarily or through church discipline, but their ultimate rejection and separation from the elect will take place at the day of judgment. At that time the wheat and chaff, the branches truly united to Christ and those only professedly so, will be “gathered” (sunago, cf. Matthew 3:12; 13:30; 25:32; Luke 3:17) to their respective destinies of eternal joy and torment. The branches without union to Christ will glorify God’s justice in their miserable damnation; they will not glorify God here by good works, but they will glorify His justice by their being burned eternally (Ezekiel 15:2-5; Romans 9:22). Note that Christ, in John 15:6 says “if a man” abide not, rather than “if ye abide not,” for, Judas having been separated from them, the remaining disciples were all genuine believers.[30]

Ephesians 2:8-10 states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” God has ordained that all those justified by grace through faith apart from works will do good works. Good works mark a believer’s life (2:10) as evil works mark an unbeliever’s life (2:2-3). The certainty of the unconverted living for the devil is the same as the certainty of a believer living for God, although both those who have sin reigning in them and those who have grace reigning in them fulfill their predominant principles in different degrees.[31] The verb translated ordained in Ephesians 2:10, proetoimadzo, is found elsewhere in the NT only in Romans 9:23, where it refers to God’s elective decree of the vessels of mercy to glory.[32] Thus, this verb refers to God’s decretive will, which is never frustrated. “The active [voice] is used in our literature [the Bible and early Christian writings] only of God” (BDAG). Proetimadzo is not used for God’s desire or wish, but for His decretive will, in the New Testament, as it is in the apostolic patristic writings.[33] Note also the common use of hetoimadzo for the certain decree of God in the New Testament.[34] Thus, Ephesians 2:10 teaches that God’s unalterable sovereign decree is that those saved by grace will do good works. There is no such thing as an unchanged believer. Someone who is unchanged does not have saving faith (James 2:14-26).

Christ’s High Priestly ministry guarantees that all believers will be sanctified. In John 17, the Lord Jesus prays that all those who have ever believed on Him (John 17:8, 20) will be with Him in heaven for all eternity: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). If even one person who ever trusted Christ for salvation were lost, the prayers of the Son of God would be a failure, something that is totally impossible (John 11:42), indeed, something blasphemous and unthinkable. However, Christ not only prays that all believers will be with Him in heaven, but that God the Father would make them all holy through the instrumentality of the Word of God: “Sanctify[35] them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Christ’s High Priestly ministry would be a failure, and the prayers of God’s Beloved Son would be rejected, were one believer to not reach heaven. The same unthinkable consequences would follow were one believer unchanged and left unholy. Christ has prayed that all believers will be sanctified—so all believers are absolutely certain to be sanctified.[36]

Many passages of Scripture teach that all those who are justified will also be progressively sanctified and evidently changed. Some of these texts have been examined here (Matthew 7:18-19; John 15:1-11; 17:17; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:18-24; Ephesians 2:8-10; 5:5-6; Hebrews 8:8-12; and Revelation 21:8, 27). The assertion that regenerate people may be dominated by sin and entirely unchanged and fruitless is a rserious false doctrine and, indeed, an assault upon the power and nature of the gospel. Indeed, it is a fundamental misunderstanding of what is involved in justification and regeneration:

Corruption is the very penalty of sin from which we are freed in justification; holiness is the very reward which is granted us in justification. It is therefore absurd to suppose that sanctification can fail where justification has taken place. Sanctification is but the execution of the justifying decree. For it to fail would be for the acquitted person not to be released in accordance with his acquittal. . . . “[J]ustifying faith” itself necessarily brings sanctification, because justification necessarily issues in sanctification—as the chains are necessarily knocked off of the limbs of the acquitted man.[37]

On the other hand, the fact that all believers are certain to be sanctified, because of their union with Christ and the omnipotent power of God, is a great motive to the saint to press onward in his spiritual growth. Certainty of success provides him with a tremendous encouragement and incentive in his holy warfare against sin. “Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies” (Psalm 60:12).

B. 1 John Teaches That All Saved People Are And Will Be Different

The view that only some believers possess the marks mentioned in 1 John was popularized in the late 1980s by the antinomian heretic Zane Hodges,[38] under the influence of the weakness of Keswick theology on the certainty of the transformation of the regenerate stemming back to Keswick founder Hannah W. Smith.[39]

[1]          Danker, Frederick William (ed.), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd. ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

[2]           iºna katarghqhØv to\ sw◊ma thvß aJmarti÷aß.

[3]          e˙pei« ou™n ta» paidi÷a kekoinw¿nhke sarko\ß kai« aiºmatoß, kai« aujto\ß paraplhsi÷wß mete÷sce tw◊n aujtw◊n, iºna dia» touv qana¿tou katargh/shØ to\n to\ kra¿toß e¶conta touv qana¿tou, touvt∆ e¶sti to\n dia¿bolon.

[4]          However, the verb in Hebrews 2:14 is in the active voice, while in Romans 6:6 the verb is in the passive voice.

[5]           And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: kai« ta» aÓgenhv touv ko/smou kai« ta» e˙xouqenhme÷na e˙xele÷xato oJ Qeo/ß, kai« ta» mh\ o¡nta, iºna ta» o¡nta katargh/shØ:

[6]          Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. ei•ta to\ te÷loß, o¢tan paradwˆ◊ th\n basilei÷an twˆ◊ Qewˆ◊ kai« patri÷, o¢tan katargh/shØ pa◊san aÓrch\n kai« pa◊san e˙xousi÷an kai« du/namin.

[7]           Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Bromily, katarge÷w.

[8]           Counteraction in Romans 6:6 is especially the position of the Keswick theology; see “Excursus VIII: An Analysis of Keswick Theology as Set Forth In So Great Salvation: The History and Message of the Keswick Convention, by Steven Barabas,” below.

[9]          “Every Christian, then, has a ‘pure’ heart [cf. Matthew 5:8]. But every Christian does not have a ‘clean’ heart (Psalm 51:10). That which pollutes the heart of a Christian is unjudged sin. Whenever sin is allowed by us, communion with God is broken, and pollution can only be removed, and communion restored, by genuine repentance—a condemning of ourselves, a mourning over the sin, and unsparing confession of the same, accompanied by a fervent desire and sincere resolution not to be overtaken by it again. The willing allowance and indulgence of any known sin cannot exist with a clean heart. . . . By regeneration we have received a “pure heart:” proof of which is, we hate all impurity, although there is still that in us which delights in nothing else. We are to maintain communion with God by cleansing our own hearts (Psalm 73:13), and that, through constant mortification, and the daily and unsparing judgment of all known sin in and from us.” (pgs. 54-55, Doctrine of Sanctification, chap. 7, Elec. acc. AGES Digital Library, Christian Library Series vol. 8, Arthur Pink Collection. Rio, WI: 2006)

[10]         The complete list of references is Luke 13:7; Romans 3:3, 31; 4:14; 6:6; 7:2, 6; 1 Corinthians 1:28; 2:6; 6:13; 13:8, 10-11; 15:24, 26; 2 Corinthians 3:7, 11, 13-14; Galatians 3:17; 5:4, 11; Ephesians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 2:14.

[11]        Such as 1 Corinthians 6:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; Hebrews 2:14; etc.

[12]         Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, Johannes P. Louw & Eugene A. Nida, ed.

[13]         Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament,by Henry Thayer. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1978 (reprint ed.).

[14]         Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed., H. G. Liddell & R. Scott. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996.

[15]              Lampe’s Patristic Greek Lexicon does, however, have “counteract” among its definitions of katarge÷w. The earliest listed example comes from the writings of Origen, and no examples are listed where the verb is passive, as it is in Romans 6:6. The fact that the classical Greek and Koiné Greek lexica mentioned do not define the word as counteract does not mean that this idea is absolutely impossible to derive from any of the definitions that are listed, but destroy, a clearly live definition with very close syntactical parallel in the New Testament, must be heavily preferred to counteract in Romans 6:6 unless very strong evidence requires it to be abandoned in favor of counteract. Such evidence is not forthcoming, and therefore the translation of the Authorized Version must be deemed correct.

[16]         Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Bromily, katarge÷w. The four uses of the verb in the LXX all relate to causing the rebuilding of Jerusalem to cease (Ezra 4:21, 23; 5:5) or to leaving alone the men who were doing the rebuilding (6:8).

[17]         Note:

Eph. 13:2 oujde÷n e˙stin a‡meinon ei˙rh/nhß, e˙n h∞ˆ pa◊ß po/lemoß katargei√tai e˙pourani÷wn kai« e˙pigei÷wn. There is nothing better than peace, by which all warfare among those in heaven and those on earth is abolished.

Barn. 2:6 tauvta ou™n kath/rghsen, iºna oJ kaino\ß no/moß touv kuri÷ou hJmw◊n ∆Ihsouv Cristouv, a‡neu zugouv aÓna¿gkhß w‡n, mh\ aÓnqrwpopoi÷hton e¶chØ th\n prosfora¿n. Therefore he has abolished these things, in order that the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is free from the yoke of compulsion, might have its offering, one not made by man.

Barn. 5:6 oi˚ profhvtai, aÓp∆ aujtouv e¶conteß th\n ca¿rin, ei˙ß aujto\n e˙profh/teusan. aujto\ß de« iºna katargh/shØ to\n qa¿naton kai« th\n e˙k nekrw◊n aÓna¿stasin dei÷xhØ, o¢ti e˙n sarki« e¶dei aujto\n fanerwqhvnai, uJpe÷meinen, The prophets, receiving grace from him, prophesied about him. But he himself submitted, in order that he might destroy death and demonstrate the reality of the resurrection of the dead, because it was necessary that he be manifested in the flesh.

Barn. 9:4 oujkouvn perie÷temen hJmw◊n ta»ß aÓkoa¿ß, iºna aÓkou/santeß lo/gon pisteu/swmen hJmei√ß. ∆Alla» kai« hJ peritomh\ e˙f∆ h∞ˆ pepoi÷qasin kath/rghtai, peritomh\n ga»r ei¶rhken ouj sarko\ß genhqhvnai. aÓlla» pare÷bhsan, o¢ti a‡ggeloß ponhro\ß e˙so/fizen aujtou/ß. In short, he circumcised our ears in order that when we hear the word we might believe. But the circumcision in which they have trusted has been abolished, for he declared that circumcision was not a matter of the flesh. But they disobeyed, because an evil angel “enlightened” them.

Barn. 15:5 kai« kate÷pausen thØv hJme÷raˆ thØv e˚bdo/mhØ. touvto le÷gei: o¢tan e˙lqw»n oJ ui˚o\ß aujtouv katargh/sei to\n kairo\n touv aÓno/mou kai« krinei√ tou\ß aÓsebei√ß kai« aÓlla¿xei to\n h¢lion kai« th\n selh/nhn kai« tou\ß aÓste÷raß, to/te kalw◊ß katapau/setai e˙n thØv hJme÷raˆ thØv e˚bdo/mhØ. “And he rested on the seventh day.” This means: when his son comes, he will destroy the time of the lawless one and will judge the ungodly and will change the sun and the moon and the stars, and then he will truly rest on the seventh day.

Barn. 16:2 scedo\n ga»r wJß ta» e¶qnh aÓfie÷rwsan aujto\n e˙n twˆ◊ nawˆ◊. aÓlla» pw◊ß le÷gei ku/rioß katargw◊n aujto/n; ma¿qete: Ti÷ß e˙me÷trhsen to\n oujrano\n spiqamhØvˆ, h£ th\n ghvn draki÷; oujk e˙gw¿, le÷gei ku/rioß; oJ oujrano/ß moi qro/noß, hJ de« ghv uJpopo/dion tw◊n podw◊n mou: poi√on oi•kon oi˙kodomh/sete÷ moi, h£ ti÷ß to/poß thvß katapau¿sew¿ß mou; e˙gnw¿kate o¢ti matai÷a hJ e˙lpi«ß aujtw◊n. For they, almost like the heathen, consecrated him by means of the Temple. But what does the Lord say in abolishing it? Learn! “Who measured heaven with the span of his hand, or the earth with his palm? Was it not I, says the Lord? Heaven is my throne, and the earth is a footstool for my feet. What kind of house will you build for me, or what place for me to rest?” You now know that their hope was in vain.

Justin Martyr speaks of Christians exorcizing demons, katargouvnteß kai« e˙kdiw¿konteß tou\ß kate÷contaß tou\ß aÓnqrw¿pouß dai÷monaß (Apology 2:6), and of the end of circumcision, since to\ ai–ma thvß peritomhvß e˙kei÷nhß kath/rghtai, kai« aiºmati swthri÷wˆ pepisteu/kamen (Trypho, 24).

[18]        Pg. 833, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, A. T. Robertson. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1934. Compare John 2:20, where an aorist represents the durative action of spending 46 years building the temple.

[19]        The . . . Consummative (Culminative, Ecbatic, Effective) Aorist . . . is often used to stress the cessation of an act or state. Certain verbs, by their lexical nature, virtually require this usage. . . . The context also assists in this usage at times; it may imply that an act was already in progress and the aorist then brings the action to a conclusion. (pg. 559, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel Wallace).

[20]        Compare Luke 19:42, e˙kru/bh; Acts 12:25, plhrw¿santeß; Acts 27:43, e˙kw¿lusen; Philippians 4:11, e¶maqon.

[21]        Note the complete sentence in v. 25-27: oi˚ a‡ndreß, aÓgapa◊te ta»ß gunai√kaß e˚autw◊n, kaqw»ß kai« oJ Cristo\ß hjga¿phse th\n e˙kklhsi÷an, kai« e˚auto\n pare÷dwken uJpe«r aujthvß: iºna aujth\n aJgia¿shØ, kaqari÷saß twˆ◊ loutrwˆ◊ touv u¢datoß e˙n rJh/mati, iºna parasth/shØ aujth\n e˚autwˆ◊ e¶ndoxon th\n e˙kklhsi÷an, mh\ e¶cousan spi÷lon h£ rJuti÷da h¡ ti tw◊n toiou/twn, aÓll∆ iºna hØ™ aJgi÷a kai« a‡mwmoß.

[22]        The aorist subjunctive is found, however (Epistle of Barnabas 5:6). The subjunctive of katarge÷w is not found in the LXX at all. Nor does the verb appear in Josephus, Philo, the Pseudepigrapha, or the Apocryphal Gospels.

[23]         “[S]anctification is wrought by the Spirit of God. As he regenerates the soul by imparting to it a holy disposition, so he carries on the work thus begun by increasing the power of that disposition, and subduing the evil tendencies which oppose it. Hence love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance, are said to be the fruit of the Spirit. Hence also it is said that the Spirit is opposed to the flesh, and the flesh to the Spirit” (pg. 12, The Doctrine of the Higher Christian Life Compared with the Teaching of the Holy Scriptures, by Alvah Hovey).

[24]         Of course, there is a real change in the believer’s body when it becomes incorruptible in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:42). This obvious fact is not being denied or argued against.

[25]         Thus, the word nature conveys a different idea when one speaks of the Christian possessing human nature (cf. Galatians 2:15) and when the Christian is said to partake of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). In sanctification, believers do not become gods, nor are they added to the Trinity, nor do they gain incommunicable attributes of the Divine substance, such as omnipotence, omnipresence, or omniscience. Their human nature or substance is in that sense unchanged. However, they do participate in ethical renovation and participate in the Divine nature in that they grow to become holy, loving, truthful, faithful, and righteous. William G. T. Shedd, explaining the meaning of nature in language such as sin nature and new nature, aptly wrote:

When the term “nature” is applied to sin, it does not denote “nature” in the primary but the secondary sense. In the primary sense, “nature” denotes a substance, and one that is created by God. In this sense, Augustine denies that sin is “nature,” and asserts that it is “intentio.” . . . Howe (Oracles, II. xxiv.) remarks that “that evil heart, that nature, not as it is nature but as it is depraved nature, is now transmitted [from parents to children].” When “nature” signifies created substance, it is improper to call sin a nature. Aristotle (Politics, I. ii.) says: “What every being is in its perfect state, that certainly is the nature of that being, whether it be a man, a horse, or a house.” Sin is imperfection, and therefore not “nature” in this sense. But there is a secondary meaning of the word. In this use of it, “nature” denotes “natural inclination,” or “innate disposition.” In this sense, sin is a “nature,” and the adjective “natural” is applicable to the corruption of sin. In the same sense, holiness is called a nature in 2 Peter 1:4. Believers are “partakers of a divine nature,” by being regenerated and coming to possess a holy disposition or inclination. “It is true that sin is a nature, but then it is a second nature, a state of degeneration.” Nitzsch Christian Doctrine, § 107. . . . Since God is the author of nature, how comes it that no blame attaches to God if we are lost by nature? I answer, there is a twofold nature: The one [is] produced by God, and the other is [a] corruption of it. We are not born such as Adam was at first created. (pgs. 20-21, Chapter 5, “Original Sin,” inDogmatic Theology: Anthropology, William G. T. Shedd.)

One could consider the distinction between the unchanging character of human nature and the progressive development of the divine nature in progressive sanctification as a difference between substance and properties—the human substance remains unchanged, while properties such as holiness and purity develop. “Substances have properties that are ‘in’ them; properties are had by substances that possess them. . . . A substance . . . is a deep unity of properties, parts, and capacities. . . . Properties adhere together in substances . . . because they all . . . inhere in . . . the same substance that stands under them. . . . A substance regularly loses old parts, properties and lower-order capacities and gains new ones. But the substance itself underlies this change and remains the same throughout it” (pgs. 215-217, Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview, J. P. Moreland & William Lane Craig).

[26]        “Works can be considered in three ways: either with reference to justification or sanctification or glorification. They are related to justification not antecedently, efficiently, and meritoriously, but consequently and declaratively. They are related to sanctification constitutively because they constitute and promote it. They are related to glorification antededently and ordinatively beause they are related to it as the means to the end; yea, as the beginning to the complement because grace is glory begun, as glory is grace consummated. . . . [W]e do not on this account confound the law and the gospel and interfere with gratuitous justification by faith alone. Good works are required not for living according to the law, but because we live by the gospel; not as the causes on account of which life is given to us, but as effects which testify that life has been given to us” (pg. 705, Topic 17, Question 3:14, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Francis Turretin)

[27]         A harvest that is “an hundredfold . . . sixtyfold . . . [or] thirtyfold” indicates different levels of Christian growth in believers, but even a “thirtyfold” spiritual harvest would be a very visible and notable production because of the sanctifying work of the Lord (cf. Genesis 26:12). Likewise, those who stop fornicating, stealing, committing idolatry, and so on, because they have been born again, manifest outwardly their inward renewal. Regeneration is not something that can remain entirely internal and hidden—it will show up in one’s outward practices.

[28]         Note also “Excursus VII: Are All Believers Disciples?”

[29]         The complete list of references employing a‡dikoß is: Matthew 5:45; Luke 16:10–11; 18:11; Acts 24:15; Romans 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:1, 9; Hebrews 6:10; 1 Peter 3:18; 2 Peter 2:9.

[30]        Note the comprehensive study of John 15:1-11 and the significance of abiding in Christ in light of the other NT uses of the verb meno and the Old Testament background to the vine image in the chapter “A Study of the Biblical Doctrine of Abiding in Christ.”

[31]        Sometimes the fact that believers will certainly do good works is misrepresented as a view that good works are “automatic” for the saints, almost as if God forces them to do good works and their mind, will, and affections are not involved. Evil works are certain for unbelievers (Romans 8:8-9), but their unrenewed mind, will, and affections are certainly involved in their unavoidable sinning. Only if one wishes to call the conscious, deliberate sinning done by all unconverted people “automatic” can one represent the Scriptural teaching that believers, because of the indwelling Spirit and their new nature, are certain to do good works, as a position that good works are “automatic.” The truth is that the New Covenant promises: “I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27), but the fact that God causes the regenerate to walk in His statutes does not turn them into puppets without any freedom of the will. “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35), but the good works of the regenerate, and the evil works of the unregenerate, are still not “automatic.”

It is interesting to note that, while sanctification is certainly not “automatic” in the sense described above, Scripture employs the adjective aujto/matoß, from which the English word automatic is derived,when describing the development of the reign of God in believers, that is, sanctification (Mark 4:28; cf. Acts 12:10; LXX Leviticus 25:5, 11; Joshua 6:5; 2 Kings 19:29; Job 24:24; Wisdom 17:6). The blessed influences of heaven upon believers leads them to certain spiritual growth in a manner comparable to that by which heavenly blessing leads crops to grow.

[32]        Note also the use in the Apocryha in Wisdom 9:8.

[33]        See 1 Clement 33:3; 38:3; Ignatius to the Ephesians 9:1; Martyrdom of Polycarp 14:2. The only other use is Shepherd 23:5, where the verb is not in the active voice and God is not the subject of the verb.

[34]         Matt. 20:23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

Matt. 20:23 kai« le÷gei aujtoi√ß, To\ me«n poth/rio/n mou pi÷esqe, kai« to\ ba¿ptisma o§ e˙gw» bapti÷zomai baptisqh/sesqe: to\ de« kaqi÷sai e˙k dexiw◊n mou, kai« e˙x eujwnu/mwn mou oujk e¶stin e˙mo\n douvnai, aÓll∆ oi–ß hJtoi÷mastai uJpo\ touv patro/ß mou.

Matt. 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Matt. 25:34 to/te e˙rei√ oJ basileu\ß toi√ß e˙k dexiw◊n aujtouv, Deuvte, oi˚ eujloghme÷noi touv patro/ß mou, klhronomh/sate th\n hJtoimasme÷nhn uJmi√n basilei÷an aÓpo\ katabolhvß ko/smou.

Matt. 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Matt. 25:41 to/te e˙rei√ kai« toi√ß e˙x eujwnu/mwn, Poreu/esqe aÓp∆ e˙mouv, oi˚ kathrame÷noi, ei˙ß to\ puvr to\ ai˙w¿nion, to\ hJtoimasme÷non twˆ◊ diabo/lwˆ kai« toi√ß aÓgge÷loiß aujtouv.

Mark 10:40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.

Mark 10:40 to\ de« kaqi÷sai e˙k dexiw◊n mou kai« e˙x eujwnu/mwn mou oujk e¶stin e˙mo\n douvnai, aÓll∆ oi–ß hJtoi÷mastai.

1Cor. 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

1Cor. 2:9 aÓlla» kaqw»ß ge÷graptai, ≠A ojfqalmo\ß oujk ei•de, kai« ou™ß oujk h¡kouse, kai« e˙pi« kardi÷an aÓnqrw¿pou oujk aÓne÷bh, a± hJtoi÷mase oJ Qeo\ß toi√ß aÓgapw◊sin aujto/n.

Heb. 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Heb. 11:16 nuni« de« krei÷ttonoß ojre÷gontai, touvt∆ e¶stin, e˙pourani÷ou: dio\ oujk e˙paiscu/netai aujtou\ß oJ Qeo/ß, Qeo\ß e˙pikalei√sqai aujtw◊n: hJtoi÷mase ga»r aujtoi√ß po/lin.

Rev. 9:15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

Rev. 9:15 kai« e˙lu/qhsan oi˚ te÷ssareß a‡ggeloi oi˚ hJtoimasme÷noi ei˙ß th\n w‚ran kai« hJme÷ran kai« mhvna kai« e˙niauto/n, iºna aÓpoktei÷nwsi to\ tri÷ton tw◊n aÓnqrw¿pwn.

Rev. 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

Rev. 12:6 kai« hJ gunh\ e¶fugen ei˙ß th\n e¶rhmon, o¢pou e¶cei to/pon hJtoimasme÷non aÓpo\ touv Qeouv, iºna e˙kei√ tre÷fwsin aujth/n hJme÷raß cili÷aß diakosi÷aß e˚xh/konta.

Rev. 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Rev. 21:2 kai« e˙gw» ∆Iwa¿nnhß ei•don th\n po/lin th\n aJgi÷an, ÔIerousalh\m kainh/n, katabai÷nousan aÓpo\ touv Qeouv e˙k touv oujranouv, hJtoimasme÷nhn wJß nu/mfhn kekosmhme÷nhn twˆ◊ aÓndri« aujthvß.

One could argue that in 2 Timothy 2:21 God’s wish, rather than His decretive will, is in view:

2Tim. 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

2Tim. 2:21 e˙a»n ou™n tiß e˙kkaqa¿rhØ e˚auto\n aÓpo\ tou/twn, e¶stai skeuvoß ei˙ß timh/n, hJgiasme÷non, kai« eu¡crhston twˆ◊ despo/thØ, ei˙ß pa◊n e¶rgon aÓgaqo\n hJtoimasme÷non.

Note the similarities between 2 Timothy 2:21 and Ephesiahs 2:10, with the specific mention of preparation for good works. But on the text in Timothy, John Gill (Commentary) wrote: “And prepared unto every good work; which an unregenerate man is not; he is to every good work reprobate; he is not capable of performing good works; he is not prepared for them, nor ready at them; but a true believer, one that is regenerated, and sanctified by the Spirit of God, he is created in Christ Jesus unto good works; and has in the performing of them right principles, aims, and ends, as well as a supply of grace, by which he is enabled to do them.” Thus, the text does not constitute an exception.

The instances above do not exhaust the uses of hetoimadzo in the New Testament; the verb is used in other ways that do not refer to the certain decree of God, or, for that matter, to God at all. The complete list of references is: Matthew 3:3; 20:23; 22:4; 25:34, 41; 26:17, 19; Mark 1:3; 10:40; 14:12, 15-16; Luke 1:17, 76; 2:31; 3:4; 9:52; 12:20, 47; 17:8; 22:8-9, 12-13; 23:56-24:1; John 14:2-3; Acts 23:23; 1 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Timothy 2:21; Philemon 1:22; Hebrews 11:16; Revelation 8:6; 9:7, 15; 12:6; 16:12; 19:7; 21:2.

[35]         An aorist imperative aJgi÷ason. Compare Ephesians 5:25-26 (oJ Cristo\ß hjga¿phse th\n e˙kklhsi÷an, kai« e˚auto\n pare÷dwken uJpe«r aujthvß: iºna aujth\n aJgia¿shØ, kaqari÷saß twˆ◊ loutrwˆ◊ touv u¢datoß e˙n rJh/mati); 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (Aujto\ß de« oJ Qeo\ß thvß ei˙rh/nhß aJgia¿sai uJma◊ß oJlotelei√ß: kai« oJlo/klhron uJmw◊n to\ pneuvma kai« hJ yuch\ kai« to\ sw◊ma aÓme÷mptwß e˙n thØv parousi÷aˆ touv Kuri÷ou hJmw◊n ∆Ihsouv Cristouv thrhqei÷h); Hebrews 2:11 (o¢ te ga»r aÓgia¿zwn kai« oi˚ aJgiazo/menoi, e˙x e˚no\ß pa¿nteß: di∆ h§n ai˙ti÷an oujk e˙paiscu/netai aÓdelfou\ß aujtou\ß kalei√n); Revelation 22:11 (oJ a‚gioß aJgiasqh/tw e¶ti). The believer’s sanctification begins at regeneration and continues from that time forward (cf. the perfect tense hJgiasme÷noi e˙n aÓlhqei÷aˆ in John 17:19).

[36]        While Christ’s prayer guarantees that all believers will grow in holiness, the Lord did not pray that they would all grow at the same speed, or to the same extent—all believers “bea[r] fruit, and brin[g] forth,” but some do so “an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23). Not every believer bears “an hundredfold,” but likewise none bears no fruit at all—and the lowest number mentioned, “thirty[fold],” is itself a striking harvest, evidence of special Divine influence.

[37]         Pg. 100, Studies in Perfectionism, Part Two, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, vol. 8, B. B. Warfield. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.

[38]         The first written representative of this position was Keswick speaker Guy H. King, who put it in print in 1954 in his book The Fellowship (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott; elec. acc. http://www.baptistbiblebelievers.com/NTStudies/FirstGeneralEpistleofJohnbyGuyKing/tabid/196/Default.aspx), after which it was taken up at Dallas Seminary, becoming spread most widely by Zane Hodges; see his Absolutely Free! (Dallas, TX: Redención Viva, 1989). As is well known and easily documented, Hodges “contends that saving faith cannot be distinguished from nonsaving faith by its fruits” and that “repentance is in no way necessary to becoming saved” (pgs. 506, 511, Systematic Theology, Norman L. Geisler, vol. 3. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2004). Furthermore, “Hodges rejects the Reformational view of faith as notitia, assensus, and fiducia. Rather, faith is simply believing saving facts about Jesus or taking God at his Word” (pg. 265, The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation, Bruce A. Demarest). J. I. Packer wrote, concerning Hodges’ novel false gospel: “If ten years ago, you had told me that I would live to see literate evangelicals, some with doctorates and a seminary teaching record, arguing for the reality of an eternal salvation, divinely guaranteed, that may have in it no repentance, no behavioral change, no practical acknowledgment of Christ as Lord of one’s life, and no perseverance in faith, I would have told you that you were out of your mind.” (The Theology of the Christian life in J. I. Packer’s Thought, J. D. Payne. Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster, 2006). However, Hodges did not stop here; he went on to teach that the lost must only believe someone named “Jesus” guarantees everlasting life by faith alone—belief in the Trinity, in Christ’s virgin birth, sinless and holy life, ascension, intercession, second coming, status as the God-man, status as the Son of God, death on the cross, burial, and resurrection, are not neceessary. Hodges’ “Jesus” could be a mere man who was a sinner, indeed, a wicked man, who died in a car accident, never to rise again and return, but if one thought that this non-extant “Jesus” would give him eternal life, he would be saved. Hodges explained all this heretical and blasphemous trash in, among a variety of other settings, an article about how to lead people to Christ (“How to Lead People to Christ: Part 1: The Content of Our Message,” Zane C. Hodges. Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 13:2 (Autumn 2000) 3-12). With such a “Jesus” and such a gospel, it is not surprising that Hodges would deny that those who are regenerate will manifest the marks in 1 John. However, it would be not a little unwise to allow Zane Hodges’ devilish false gospel (Galatians 1:8-9) to lead one to an incorrect view of the book that did not exist for the vast majority of church history.

[39]         Thus, for example, Hannah Smith preached at the Oxford Convention that assent to the statements of “believe” texts in Scripture “settles the question” of personal assurance—the transformed life 1 John indicates is key to assurance is not mentioned (pgs. 159-160, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago: Revell, 1874). This error was passed on to many in the Keswick movement, eventually flowering in people who were willing to actually deny, and defend their denial of the plain teaching of 1 John, in Guy King and Zane Hodges.

More Resources on Soteriology: The Biblical Doctrine of Salvation