What is the best book on Sanctification.

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R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Maybe the biggest trap into which I see Reformed folk falling is perfectionism. As I'm working through Olevianus' commentary on Romans, I'm struck by how often he describes our sanctification as "inchoate," i.e., beginning.

This is also the language of the Heidelberg Catechism:

Q114: Can those who are converted to God keep these Commandments perfectly?

No, but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of such obedience,[1] yet so that with earnest purpose they begin to live not only according to some, but according to all the Commandments of God.[2]

1. I John 1:8-10; Rom. 7:14-15; Eccl. 7:20
2. Rom. 7:22; James 2:10-11; Job 9:2-3; Psa. 19:13

Q115: Why then does God so strictly enjoin the Ten Commandments upon us, since in this life no one can keep them?

First, that as long as we live we may learn more and more to know our sinful nature,[1] and so the more earnestly seek forgiveness of sins and righteousness in Christ;[2] second, that without ceasing we diligently ask God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we be renewed more and more after the image of God, until we attain the goal of perfection after this life.[3]

1. I John 1:9; Psa. 32:5
2. Rom. 7:24-25
3. I Cor. 9:24-25; Phil. 3:12-14; Matt. 5:6; Psa. 51:12

What is the HC's "plan" (method!) for sanctification?

Q88: In how many things does true repentance or conversion consist?

In two things: the dying of the old man,[1] and the making alive of the new.

1. Rom. 6:4-6; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:5-10; I Cor. 5:7

Q89: What is the dying of the old man?

Heartfelt sorrow for sin, causing us to hate and turn from it always more and more.[1]

1. Rom. 8:13; Joel 2:13

Q90: What is the making alive of the new man?

Heartfelt joy in God through Christ,[1] causing us to take delight in living according to the will of God in all good works.[2]

1. Rom. 5:1; 14:17; Isa. 57:15
2. Rom. 7:22; 8:10-11; Gal. 2:20

Q91: What are good works?

Those only which proceed from true faith,[1] and are done according to the Law of God,[2] unto His glory,[3] and not such as rest on our own opinion [4] or the commandments of men.[5]

1. Rom. 14:23
2. I Sam. 15:22; Eph. 2:10
3. I Cor. 10:31
4. Deut. 12:32; Ezek. 20:18, 20; Isa. 29:13
5. Matt. 15:9; Num. 15:39

The Christian life is daily dying to self and living to Christ. It sinning and confessing sin and struggling against it. In some ways, the freedom to confess sin is the victory.

We don't confess a "victorious life." We won't realize "victory," over sin (in the way folks often talk) until glory.

If we gain "victory" over a particular sin, there will be another to take its place. If we think we've arrived it probably means that we've defined sin out of existence.

We gain small victories in this life and, as you imply, the power of those small, daily, victories is the gospel and grace.



Puritan Board Doctor
Hi all,
Currently I am reading "The doctrine of Sanctification" by A.W. Pink. I ordered it from a reformed site but am wondering now if he was more of a baptist. Anyway, in my experience as of late I have been concerned about sanctification. Specifically how I am seeming to go backwards so to speak. This Christian life/walk/journey has been interesting to say the least. With all the struggles in my life and home lately my heart has been a very dark place. I lost my 11 yr job in the factory as they are closing down. I am trying to get $$ for nursing schooling, my wife has a job with only a few hours (I don't like the idea of forcing her out into the 'work' world but am grateful that she is willing to so that I can go to school full time). The whole factory scenario has been building up for 3+ years now...it was awful. So many stressed people! The final 3-5 months really broke me down. Anger started to well up in me, frustration, anxiety like never before...not anger over what was happening though, I am more at the point of anger that I am only in control of 'some' things. I am not an indecisive person so it has been real heavy. I am doing all that I can to be responsible for my life and have forgotten how to give the rest to the Lord.
Also, having just been studying justification I now need to get on with sanctification. I LOVE justification!! I love the jurisprudence of Heaven and I desparately want more and more to be sanctified.
I really need to dig in and read on spiritual warfare...I have been exposed to so many differing views on warfare. I do agree that most of the time I am my own worst enemy. But I want to grow in this area also.
Thanks for listening
Praying for you and your wife. :pray2:

Pilgrim Warrior

Inactive User
Thank you brothers for your prayers and advice. I just went shopping with my in-laws yesterday and they took me to a Christian book store to pick out a book for Christmas. I found a book that has the forwrd by J.I Packer and edited by someone else and it is a comp of John Owens works on Temptation, Mortification of sin and the like. Problem is I have to wait til Christmas to get it...oh well, at least I will finish my other book before then.
Is the Mortification of Sin in the John Owen works vol 6 ?


That's an excellent volume. Don't skip Packer's intro, especially if most of your previous Christian life was lived in the mainstream of evangelicalsim. The intro will throw some light on the non-reformed teaching which formed the evangelical mainstream of the mid-20th Century. Wrong as that teaching was, it has been replaced by a near-total disregard for God's law in those churches.
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