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§ 48. (5.) Of Renovation.

It is not enough that man learns to know his sins and hate them, nor that in regeneration he becomes able to grasp the merit of Christ by faith. God desires also that man should exercise this turning away from sin and this return to Him in a moral life, that he cease to be the old and become a new man, leading day by day a more holy life before God. And God Himself works in this direction by His divine grace, seeking to draw off man more and more from sin, and to encourage and strengthen him for that which is good. This operation, however, wrought by God in man, is called renovation, so far as through it a change is wrought in man, in consequence of which he may be called a new man; [1] also sanctification, so far as now his life begins to become holy. [2] HOLL. (946): “Renovation is an act of grace, whereby the Holy Spirit, expelling the faults of a justified man, endows him with 487inherent sanctity. [3] The change that takes place in man consists further in this, that by the influence of divine grace the sin still cleaving to man disappears, more and more, and gives place to an increasing facility for doing what is good. [4] As, however, the sinfulness yet remaining in man yields only through a constantly repeated struggle against sin, this renovation is not a sudden, but a gradual one, susceptible of constant growth; [5] and as sin never entirely leaves man, it is never perfect, [6] although we are always to strive after perfection. Finally, it is a work of God in man, yet of such a nature that there is a free co-operation on the part of man, who now in conversion has received new spiritual powers.” [7]

[1] Renovation, too, is taken in a wider and narrower sense. BR. (593): “Renovation in general denotes any action by which old things, or things which are injured or weakened or corrupted by age, or in any other way, are restored. So, in the spiritual renovation of man, taken more widely, the old man, as to his entire condition, that is, the deficiency of every kind of spiritual power, the guilt and dominion of sin, is destroyed; and the new man as to his entire extent, that is, his spiritual strength, freedom from guilt, and the habitual gift, by which the dominion of sin is subdued, is said to be produced, 2 Cor. 5:17, sqq. (where men who are in Christ are said to be new creatures). To this is referred the reconciliation with God and justification by Christ, v. 19, 21.” (In which wider sense renovation is taken in the FORM. CONC., Sol. Dec., II, 70, in the AP. CONF., III, 40.) In the Holy Scriptures the word is taken in this wider sense in Heb. 6:6. BR. (594): “Renovation, strictly speaking, signifies a certain real and intrinsic change in the regenerated or converted man. This is taken transitively (as the action of God producing in us holy impulses and actions; as He is said to give a new heart and a new spirit, Ez. 36:26, to renew the spirit within us, Ps. 51:11); and intransitively (so far as men furnished with divinely imparted strength are said to renew themselves, making for themselves a new heart and a new spirit, Ez. 18:31, to lay aside the old man and put on the new, Eph. 4:22, 24”). To this HOLL. remarks (950): “There is really no difference between transitive and intransitive renovation; because (a) it denotes the same change, by which from the old man the new comes forth, from a sinner a saint, which is called transitive, on account of its connoted dependence on God as the agent who produces it in another; but on the part of the subject, regarded as 488a form of an immanent act, it is called intransitive; (b) both are accomplished by the same power, viz., not human but divine, which the Holy Spirit possesses originally and independently, the regenerate dependently and on account of the mystical union with God.”

QUEN. (III, 632) thus discriminates renovation from regeneration and justification: “Renovation differs (a) As to the efficient cause. Regeneration and justification are actions of God alone; renovation is indeed an action of God, but not of God alone, for the regenerate man also concurs, not in his own strength, but through divinely granted power. (b) As to the subject. Man altogether dead in sins is the subject of regeneration. The sinner, indeed, is the subject of justification, Rom. 4:5, 17, yet one recognizing his sins and believing in Christ; but the subject of renovation is man already justified. (c) As to the object. Regeneration is occupied with the production of faith; justification with imputable righteousness; renovation with inherent righteousness. (d) As to the form. Regeneration consists in the bestowment of spiritual life, and a transfer from a state of wrath to a state off grace; justification in the remission of sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness; but renovation in a reformation of the mind, will, and affections, and so of the whole man, or in a restoration of the divine image, commenced in this life and to be completed in the next. (e) As to the properties. Both regeneration and justification are instantaneous; renovation is progressive, from day to day.” GRH. (VII, 294): “Regeneration, properly so called, like carnal generation, does not admit of degrees. But renovation does, because the interior man is renewed from day to day.” “(f) As to the order. Regeneration precedes justification, and justification precedes renovation. Renovation is related to justification as an effect to a cause, and follows it, not in the order of time, but of nature. Therefore Paul does not use these words indiscriminately. Tit. 3:5.”

[2] It is likewise taken either in a wider sense, so that it embraces in its limits calling, illumination, conversion, regeneration, justification, and renovation, as Eph. 5:26; Heb. 10:10; or in a narrower sense, so that it coincides with renovation, strictly speaking, as in Rom. 6:19, 22; 1 Thess. 4:3, 4, 7. BR. (594): “The conferring and obtaining of internal (or inherent) holiness is here meant; for although, in another respect, there is indeed in the act of justification the imputation of another’s holiness, namely, Christ’s (to which the passages 1 Cor. 1:30; Heb. 10:14, may be referred), yet men themselves here are perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord, 2 Cor. 7:1.” “In accordance with this the 489predicate of sanctity can be ascribed to the new man, but he is holy, not of himself, but of grace, Ps. 86:2; 1 Cor. 6:11; not so much in himself as in Christ, Phil. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:2; not by completed, but by commenced and continued holiness, Phil. 3:12.” HOLL. (956).

[3] HOLL. (947): “Renovation is an act of applying grace by which the Holy Spirit abolishes the inherent remains of sin in the justified man that it may not reign, and produces in him internal and external affections conformed to the divine will, and thus spiritually good, that, being endowed with the renewed image of God, he may live piously, soberly, and justly, to the glory of God the most holy.”

BR. (607), (representing renovation more as a state): “Renovation is a combination of spiritual acts which the regenerate man, God assisting graciously by His Word and Sacraments, puts forth by means of the spiritual strength afforded him as to his intellect, will, and sensual appetite, in order to destroy the remains of sin, and to acquire greater sanctity, in the way of salvation, to the glory of God.”

[4] QUEN. (III, 634): “The old man is the starting-point (terminus a quo), the new man the goal (terminus ad quem), Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:10.” HOLL. (553): “The remains of sin are the starting-point of renovation, i.e., those remaining in justified men, after illumination, conversion, and regeneration, and which are to be abolished, by daily renovation, that they may be diminished and suppressed, although they cannot in this life be entirely eradicated; to wit, some defect of the spiritual powers on the part of the intellect in regard to knowledge, on the part of the will to the pursuit of spiritual good, on the part of the sensual appetite to obey the higher faculties, together with a proclivity of these faculties of the soul to evil. The point to which renovation tends is those greater powers which, after illumination, conversion, and regeneration, are conferred upon the justified by the Holy Spirit, viz., a more clear and comprehensive understanding or knowledge of spiritual things, inherent righteousness and holiness in the will, a prompt obedience of the sensual appetite, rendered to the superior faculties; these things being unitedly conferred, the divine image is restored.”

“The form of renovation consists in the expulsion of mental errors and the illumination of the mind, Col. 3:10; Rom. 12:2; in the rectification of the will and the renewing of righteousness and true holiness, Eph. 4:24; in the restraining of the appetites inclined to evil; in the purity and chastity of the affections; in 490the employment of the members of the body in works of righteousness, Rom. 12:1; in the subduing of the dominion of sin, Rom. 6:13, 19.”

[5] HOLL. (955): “As the body of sin in process of time is more and more weakened by the regenerate man, so the regenerate man is transformed more and more into the image of God from glory to glory by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18; 4:16). The body of sin, Rom. 6:6, is called figuratively the old man, as it is a compound of many sins, as of parts and members. As formerly criminals were affixed to the cross, and their limbs bruised, mortified, buried, and corrupted, so successively the old man is crucified when the desires of his flesh are restrained and as if bound; he is bruised, 1 Cor. 9:27, so far as the flesh is kept under, the external pleasures of this world being removed; being bruised, he is mortified, Rom. 8:13, so far as the strength to emerge is taken from sin; mortified, he is buried, Rom. 6:4, inasmuch as the memory and the thought of illicit things are removed; buried, he corrupts, so that the entire body of sin is abolished, here inchoatively and continuously, in the life to come completely, Rom. 6:6.” Renovation is therefore to be considered a continually progressive action both on God’s and on man’s part. QUEN. (III, 636): “The Holy Spirit renews man, while by means of the organs of grace, the Word and Sacraments, He enkindles in him various pious inclinations; indeed, renovation is nothing but those continuous acts by which actual sanctity is effected in man, carried on, continued, and preserved.” Therefore, also, renovation is distinguished (HOLL., 956) as “commenced, continued, and completed.”

[6] QUEN. (III, 636): “Renovation in this life is partial and imperfect, admitting degrees, and therefore it never attains the highest acme of perfection. For sin remains in the regenerate, affects their self-control, the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and therefore our renovation progresses from day to day, and is to be continued through life, 2 Cor. 4:16. The want of perfection in renovation does not arise from the impotency of God, who renews, but form the incapacity of man, who is the recipient of the divine action.” It can therefore have augmentations and diminutions. QUEN. (III, 636): “Renovation is increased by godly acts and frequent efforts. These being intermitted or diminished, a diminution follows, so there is at one time an increase, at another a decrease. The Holy Scriptures expressly affirm that the renovation of the regenerate in this life ought continually to increase and grow, Eph. 4:16.”

The question whether the new man, if sin still cleaves to him, 491can be considered spiritual, HOLL. (957) decides thus: “When a renewed man is called spiritual, the reason of the denomination is derived from that which is preponderant, to wit, from the prevailing spirit; but when the same is called carnal, the reason is derived from that which is subordinate, to wit, from the flesh, subdued indeed, but rebelling and resisting, with which man justified, placed in the way of life, is continually carrying on war.”

[7] QUEN. (III, 633): “The first efficient cause is the entire Trinity (1 Thess. 5:23; John 15:4, 5); terminatively;2525[For the ground of this distinction, see § 19, Note 22, last paragraph. As applicable to this article, HOLL. (344) has very clearly presented it thus: “Sanctification is, indeed, a divine action ad extra, and therefore is undivided, or, in other words, is common to all three persons of the Godhead, and accordingly is ascribed also to God the Father, John 17:17, and God the Son, Heb. 9:14. But in the Holy Scriptures and the Apostles’ Creed the Holy Spirit is characterized by an outward mark of discrimination, as it were, so that he is said to sanctify us terminatively, Rom. 14:16.” — TR.] appropriatively, the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:16; Tit. 3:5; Rom. 1:4; Gal. 5:22).” HOLL. (949): “The regenerate and justified man concurs in the work of his sanctification as a secondary cause, subordinate and moved by God, so that he renews himself daily by the powers which he has received from above. The Holy Spirit produces in man, without human concurrence, the power to produce good works and the first act of sanctification; but man concurs in the second act of sanctification, or in the exercise and continuance of it, when once introduced by the Holy Spirit . . . . The regenerate man co-operates with God in the work of sanctification, not by an equal action, but in subordination and dependence on the Holy Spirit, because he works, not with native but with granted powers. This is inferred from the words of the apostle, Phil. 2:12, 13.”

SUPPLEMENTARY.2626Most of the Dogmaticians discuss the doctrine of good works immediately after that of faith. (GRH. (VIII, 1): “The article of good works conveniently follows the doctrine of justification by faith. For, although we are justified by faith without works, and thence good works are to be removed from the forum of justification, yet that true and living faith by which we are justified is not without works, since the blessings of justification and sanctification, regeneration and renovation, are united in a constant and indissoluble bond.” We here follow, however, the arrangement of BR., because the connection of faith and justification would be too much broken by the introduction between them of the doctrine of good works.


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