God attacks sin in the believer in three ways: He justifies—that is, he removes the guilt and penalty of sin and imparts righteousness in Jesus. Secondly, he sanctifies—he breaks the power of our indwelling sin nature (sin factory) enabling us to live a life pleasing to God. That indwelling sin nature is like a ‘sin factory’ that keeps producing sin. This process is enabled by a believer yielding himself to the Holy Spirit. Lastly, he glorifies—this is our transformation at the time of death.
So what exactly happens in sanctification? When you become a Christian, Paul says ‘you are dead to sin and alive to Christ’. Dead here does not mean ‘annihilated’ but simply separated. Your ‘sin factory’ is still able to operate, and you still have access to it, but it doesn’t run you. Before your life in Christ, you could not separate yourself from your sin. Now in Christ, you can be free from sin’s dominion over you.
So people often ask, “If God has forgiven all my sin—then why do I have to ask for forgiveness?” First John one nine says, ‘If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we've done wrong.’ John never says our eternal life with God is at jeopardy—that has been accomplished by faith. Once we become children of God we cannot be disowned. But continued sin will cloud our familial relations with God—we won’t be in sync with Him. It’s like we are still in the family, but we’re just not talking. Jesus died so we can have relationship with Him now—in fact, Jesus is eternal life. Jesus died so that our sin doesn’t have to be our focus—our focus can be on Him!
-Pastor Dino Griffin