Paul’s Eschatological Sanctification

The Apostle Paul’s view of sanctification was an eschatological one:  because you have been justified by faith in Christ’s sacrifice, and thus entered “in Christ” (the present-future spiritual reality), you should then continually work to discipline your flesh, kill its lusts, serve the Lord, edify the brethren, and bear Fruit of the Spirit (the present physical realities).

To manifest their sanctification in this world, Paul expected believers to receive a Spirit Baptism and go on to “walk” in the power and revelation of the Spirit, in order to “not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”  The fact of that influx of power represents the “earnest” (pledge, guarantee, firstfruit) of the believer’s eschatological future “inheritance” (resurrection, redemption of the body, Eternal Life).

In Paul’s view, the spiritual believer is already “seated with Christ in heavenly places,” eschatologically, and therefore should think and act in that reality.  Meanwhile, there is no room in Paul’s theology for Entire Sanctification, in terms of a complete work of sinless perfection.  The believer remains at risk if he/she succumbs to deception of a false gospel, or suffers moral “shipwreck” and therefore becomes a “castaway.”

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes

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