The fact that you hate sin because it is displeasing to God who saved you, and desire to be freed entirely from it, is an indication of God’s sanctifying work within you. Press on! If you do not hate sin and know you should, confess your sin to the Lord and ask God for help to free you from this body of death. God warns of His pending judgment upon the wicked and with this warning calls all to repent of their sin and turn to Him in faith during this hour of salvation.
So Naaman said, “Then, if not, please let your servant be given two mule-loads of earth; for your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the LORD. Yet in this thing may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD please pardon your servant in this thing.
II Kings 5:17-18
As the world around us changes rapidly it is a blessing to focus on the Word of God which never changes. Today we are brought to a precious promise of God concerning His miraculous work within us. “He who begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). The Lord began a good work in Naaman by calling him, justifying him, sanctifying him and continuing to sanctify him. Two questions we will consider today from this passage: 1) What is Sanctification; and 2) When does sanctification happen in time?
What is Sanctification? The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines it this way: “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” One of many Scripture passages that teaches this doctrine, is 2 Cor. 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”
The Lord called Naaman to Himself, washed Him clean of His sins, and immediately all things became new in Naaman’s heart and mind. He was sanctified and we see this in several ways early in his new birth. Naaman was overjoyed by the work that God had done, demonstrating the faith of his heart with the words of his mouth in front of many witnesses, “now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel” (vs. 15). Naaman rapidly learned the ways of the Lord even that the salvation wrought by Christ is a free gift of God (vs. 16). While initially misdirected, Naaman was thankful for the Lord’s work, even trying to pay for the healing he received (vs. 15) and would continue to be generous when Gehazi came to him falsely in vs. 22-25. By the work of the Spirit inside Naaman, he had become a new creation. He was set apart as holy and was dying unto sin and living unto righteousness.
When does Sanctification happen in time? As God acts (Justification) and works (Sanctification) we can say with Scripture that while distinct events, Justification and Sanctification happen simultaneously in the regenerated man. While justification as an act of God’s free grace takes place at one point in time, sanctification also takes place immediately but it is not a one time event like justification. Sanctification continues and progresses in the life of the believer until glory where the Christian is no longer even able to sin (John 17:17, I Thess. 5:23, Rom. 13:11-14).
Consider the ongoing work of God’s Spirit in Naaman. Within minutes of his conversation Naaman was convicted of the sin of idolatry. Like all the people around Israel, Naaman’s life was wholly given over to idolatry. He regularly went to the temple of Rimmon to offer sacrifices with King Ben-hadad of Syria. With the Lord’s work of sanctification in his servant, Naaman saw the error of his way (vs. 18).