Understanding Sanctification

santificationThe definition of sanctification is:  the state of growing in divine grace as a result of Christian commitment after baptism or conversion.

Sanctification is coming to a place of death… a point where we can be reborn, to be new creations in Christ.  sanctification is something we will fight with everything we have in us.  I did and I know you do, too.  We struggle with this daily… moment by moment ~ the struggle against what we want and what Christ wants for us. Luke 14:26 ESV,  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

We are getting down to the nitty-gritty of who and what we are.  Jesus has told us, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Matthew 10:34 ESV.  We don’t understand this point, our God is strict and He requires us to do whatever He directs us to in His Word.  There is no  choice if we truly want to be holy, to be all in Christ.

Maybe this is what took me so long to come to Jesus.  I wanted to love God and have God love me.  BUT I wanted to do things my way with His blessing. We all know how well that worked for me!  How is working for you?  Are you willing to reduce yourself to just you?  Are you willing to get rid of all of the thought of what other people think? What you think?

To be holy means that we must hand ourselves completely and totally to God… not one place can be denied Him.  This is a control issue.  I  know, I know. Yet, once we let go we are free, free to be everything that God created us to be.  Once my knees hit the ground, once I understood that my life was not my own but His, is when things began to change for me.  It wasn’t easy and it still isn’t!

In the beginning, I began to see myself in some ways like He saw me ~ that was amazing!  I gained strength and confidence, which was sorely needed at that time in my life.  Then the work set in… work (why is this all about work?)  The more I walked the more I wanted what God wanted.

I would ask God to guide and direct my paths.  What I got I didn’t expect…I got the answer to my prayers, yes, I did ~ God began to show me the sin I had in my life.  I wasn’t prepared for that!

Martha Peace in The Excellent Wife shows us how God shows us our sin.

1. By convicting you when you read or hear God’s Word.  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 ESV.  The more I read and studied God’s Word, the more God pointed out my sins to me.  My heart would ache at certain scriptures, the scripture would stay in my mind leading me to admit and confess my sin.  Have there been scriptures that have spoken to you?  How did you react?

2. By having someone tell you.  “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6 ESV.  Oh yea, who are we kidding… it hurts to be told you are sinning!  No joke!  Once we get over the hurt, the humiliation of being told it’s how we learn from it that counts.  We have a choice, we always have a choice…responding with a heart full of pride in embarrassment, angry, defensive, resentful or worse vengeful or do we respond with a grateful heart, confessing our sin and turning away from it?  Free will… your choice.  Proverbs 13:10 ESV “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.”  It is never fun to see our blind-spots but responding in an ungodly way makes it worse.

Another confession, for about three days I had been speaking with a friend about some problems she was having in her relationship.  These problems seem to repeat over and over again.  In fact, I’ve been very concerned about her welfare. It seems her man had done the usual yet again … she claimed to be done finished.  We discussed it, we prayed about it.  Then within two days, they are back together.  I’m confused!  I’m scared for her!  He posts a comment that just gets right under my skin about the whole situation… to be honest, I didn’t wait a second before I spilled my thoughts out.  Cringe, hangs head.  He called me out immediately… cut me straight to the bone.  I had a choice… I could continue this argument or apologize.  I’m proud to say I took the high road.  My heart ached for what I had done…. it still does.  My actions has now stopped my friend from speaking to me.  I only pray that God touches her heart…

Martha also tells us there are three main categories of sanctification taught in Scripture:

1. Positional Sanctification.  It occurs at the moment of one’s salvation.  It is all the work of God.  God draws us to Himself.  God gives us a desire to seek Him.  God convicts us of our sin.  God cleanses us of our sin and saves our soul.  “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13.  This is when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, when we allow Him into our lives.

2. Future Sanctification.  This too is all the work of God.  It will happen when Jesus returns for His church.  When Jesus takes His church home to be with Him.  In that process, we will be given a new, sanctified body that is pure and holy.  Jude 24 ESV “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.”

3. Progressive Sanctification. This aspect begins at the moment of salvation and ends when you go to be with the Lord.  This is the work of God as He convicts, disciplines, and helps us in our journey but it’s our work too.

We are responsible to do the following:

                 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2  Peter 3:18 ESV.  Grow is an imperative verb here…it is a command not an either or.  We can’t grow if we don’t study His Word.  We can’t grow if we don’t pray.  We can’t grow if don’t follow His ways.

We are to pursue love “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” 1 Corinthians 14:1 ESV.  I’ve written about love…right love (https://letitbeginanew.wordpress.com/category/love/) and wrong love (https://letitbeginanew.wordpress.com/category/wrong-love/) so I won’t get into the specifics on love.

We are to “for those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5 ESV.  To live life in the spirit is to let go of earthly things, of self-indulgence, of self desires.  To live in the spirit is to know that you belong to God, His child.

We are to “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 ESV.  I think you understand this, pretty straight forward.

We are to “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;” 1 Timothy 4:7 ESV.  Do not waste time arguing over  ideas and things that don’t matter in eternity, instead use your time and energy for God and His ways.

We can see this will take work to be like Christ.  But here’s the good part, we aren’t doing this alone!  God is with us to help us grow spiritually by the power of the Holy Spirit.  God is working to mold you into His image through everything you go through.  Everything we do, we go through, is an opportunity to grow.