The Struggles of Sanctification

Systematic Theology, 3 Volumes Charles Hodge does a fine job of explaining regeneration, sanctification, and the Christian’s ongoing struggle with sin.  In the following quote, Hodge is implicitly responding to the unbiblical teaching of perfectionism and explicitly refuting the teaching of Rome, which teaches that baptismal regeneration removes the nature of sin in the soul.  It is also an explanation of the fact that Christians are saints and sinners at the same time.

“The truth which lies at the foundation of all the Scriptural representations of this subject is, that regeneration, the quickening, of which believers are the subject, while it involves the implanting, or communication of a new principle or form of life, does not effect the immediate and entire deliverance of the soul from all sin. A man raised from the dead may be and long continue to be, in a very feeble, diseased, and suffering state. So the soul by nature dead in sin, may be quickened together with Christ, and not be rendered thereby perfect. The principle of life may be very feeble, it may have much in the soul uncongenial with its nature, and the conflict between the old and the new life may be protracted and painful. Such not only may be, but such in fact is the case in all the ordinary experience of the people of God.”

“…With the teachings of the Scriptures the experience of Christians in all ages and in all parts of the Church agrees. Their writings are filled with the account of their struggles with the remains of sin in their own hearts; with confessions; with prayers for divine aid; and with longings after the final victory over all evil, which is to be experienced only in heaven. The great lights of the Latin Church, the Augustines and Bernards and Fénélons, were humble, penitent, struggling believers, even to the last, and with Paul did not regard themselves as having already attained, or as being already perfect. And what the Bible and Christian experience prove to be true, history puts beyond dispute. Either there is no such thing as regeneration in the world, or regeneration does not remove all sin from those who are its subjects.”

Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. III pages 220-221.

shane lems

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