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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

“The Most Important Book on Sanctification Ever Written”

Gospel Mystery of Sanctification A 17th Century Book

A few years ago I received a stack of books at a Desiring God Conference.

One of them was “The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification” by Walter Marshall.

It was written in the 17th century, but the version I received had been put into modern English by Bruce H. McRae.


In the introduction I was surprised to read that a seminary professor, John Murray, had said this was “the most important book on sanctification ever written.”

So I decided to read it.  And I found it so helpful that I thought I would share with you some quotes.

Helpful Quotes

Real love for God means that he must … be your greatest happiness.  …When you love God, you make him the greatest pleasure of your life. (31)

If you think you can keep the law of God in your own strength, you have never truly been humbled and brought to understand the sinfulness of your own heart. (37)

You do not produce a godly nature by yourself …  Rather, you take it to yourself by receiving it from Christ.  Through fellowship with him, you begin to receive that holy frame of mind which is in Christ himself. (39)

True saving faith means that you come … to see Christ as all your salvation and happiness. (51)

Faith is the means by which you actually receive Christ and all his fullness in your heart. (52)

The only way you can be empowered to live a holy life is through union and fellowship with Christ by faith. (65)

Faith is the mouth by which your soul feeds hungrily on Jesus. (104)

Your soul must come to take pleasure in God and Christ by faith, or else it will just go after fleshly and worldly pleasures. (109)

When you believe, you really do receive Christ, just as you really receive food when you eat and drink. (118)

You can be completely confident in [Christ] without having to fulfill any conditions. All you have to do is receive him as your own – eat and drink of him – and he is yours immediately. (135)

Some people [wrongly] think “living and walking by faith” means that you merely stir yourself up to live by the principles you believe. (169)

It is simply not enough to trust in Christ to help you act and labor… This kind of “resolution faith” is not really relying upon God’s grace at all. It is relying upon your own strength and willpower. (177)

How This Book Helped Me

This book helped me see that —

  • There is a difference between “resolution faith” (p.177), and faith which actually turns to Christ and depends on him to use his Word to change our hearts.
  • When by faith I fellowship with Christ and behold his glory, sin’s pull will weaken, love for Christ will strengthen, and obedience will grow.
  • Union with Christ is not just a doctrinal truth to believe; it is an experience of Christ we will feel as we turn to him by faith.
  • I can turn to Christ by faith, even if there’s sin in my heart, and receive everything I need to be assured of salvation and battle sin.

Questions? Comments?

I’d love to hear them, although I might not be able to respond.  Leave a reply below —   thanks.

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Category: Motivation for Obedience


5 Responses

  1. Alyssa says:

    “There is a difference between “resolution faith” (p.177), and faith which actually turns to Christ and depends on him to use his Word to change our hearts.”

    So for a long time, when I was battling a sin I’m now just frequently giving in to, I prayed and prayed and prayed admitting my own inability to turn from it apart from Jesus’ help, asking Him to enable me, trying to meditate on verses, asking Him to change my heart/priorities/etc. I still gave in more and more frequently. What is the difference between relying on Him to empower/enable our resolutions…and depending on Him to use His Word to change our hearts? Because I thought/think I was doing the latter, but at the same time I was constantly struggling with the “perseverance of the saints” doctrine (my own fear about falling away), AND being confronted with the fact that Jesus was/is NOT my greatest treasure and feeling incredibly fearful about that (and beseeching Him over and over to change that in my heart), yet at the same time trying (and asking Him to enable me) to understand the role that grace plays in that…as well as wondering about the verses about Esau (sinning so much he couldn’t repent), recognizing my heart was/is divided, and seeing *no* deliverance from that. Just got more and more fearful and defeated. I *think* I was turning to Him, but perhaps it was “resolution faith;”–what’s the difference?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Good questions, Alyssa.

      The difference between “resolution faith” and faith which relies on the Spirit’s power is that resolution faith does not look to Christ to change our hearts, forgive our sins, and satisfy us in himself.

      If you are looking to Christ, crying out to him for help, praying over God’s Word, and wanting to be freed from this sin — then you can be fully assured that you are saved.

      The reason is because we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone — and so the fact that you are looking to Christ by faith shows that you are saved.

      So why are you seeing *no* deliverance? I do not know.

      We are not promised complete freedom from sin in this life.

      But 1 Cor 10:13 does promise that God will only let us face temptations that we, by his grace, through faith in Christ, can overcome.

      That same verse also promises that God will give a way of escape for every temptation we face.

      Maybe ask him to show you what this way of escape is?

      But in the meantime, keep fighting. Keep looking to Christ by faith. Keep praying and meditating on God’s Word.

      And because you are trusting Christ, keep being assured that he loves you and is for you and will fulfill all his promises to you.

      I hope that helps.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  2. Esther Lewis says:

    Love the question and comment! So heartwarming, convicting….. thanks.

  3. Kevin says:

    As I understand it, fixing our thoughts on our sinfulness does not help getting rid of it. Instead we must fix our thoughts on Christ Jesus. Lift up our eyes to him and him alone helps to take our minds off our sinfulness and meditate on Romans 8:1, 8:10 ,6:6, 6:10,614.
    Doing this helped me out of a similar situation as yours.

  4. Jessie says:

    I have two major purposes for my Daniel Fast, First, I have a very stnaried relationship with my son Joshaun Jr. who will be 20 Jan. 6. He does not respect me and and conversations are always very short and we are both left feeling without . I want to have a loving relationship with my son but not at the expense of being disrespected or treated as anything other than his father. Please pray for us.Secondly, I believe that I have a calling on my life to serve as a physician. I am finishing classes now and am in the process of transferring from a two year to a four year institution. I ask for your prayers guidance from God that He direct my footsteps in the way that He would have me to go. As you should know there is a considerable amount of stress that I’ve been under and so many times I’ve thought of quitting. PLease pray for me.

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