Walking by the Spirit
It’s been a while since I’ve had an opportunity to write. Life has a way of getting very busy, very quickly. However, I recently got the opportunity to share this message at my home church and have been thinking it might be something that could be helpful to some other folks.
This summer, our pastor has been preaching through our core doctrines as a church. While he was out of town, I was asked to speak on the topic of sanctification. Interestingly enough, that’s a topic I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately. I thought I’d take a few moments to share my thoughts on it and invite you to the conversation as well.
Just like most every other term in the Bible, there are many sides to the term sanctification. We are “sanctified” by being set apart for salvation through Jesus Christ. We are “sanctified” by the blood of Jesus on the cross. But I want to focus on sanctification in our daily lives. For that reason I would define sanctification as: daily living into and being transformed to match our already right relationship with God.I highlight that last portion because I believe that’s important. We are not earning our salvation on a daily basis. Thankfully, we are perfected forever through Jesus Christ when He offered Himself up as a sacrifice, once for all (Hebrews 7:27). But, there is some truth to the old saying that “God loves you just as you are, but too much to let you stay that way.” While we are counted righteous because of Jesus Christ, there is still work to be done to conform us into that image. There is still work to be done to make us match what we already are: heirs with Christ. Think of it like this: God has already bought the house and is living in it, but it’s in need of some hefty renovation work. Sanctification is the “renovation work” that God is doing in our lives.
There is a real sense in which we have some work to be doing in our daily lives (Phil. 2:12). Sanctification is not a spectator sport. As J.I. Packer says, it’s not “apathy” on our part. We are not sitting back and simply saying, “God, here are my arms and legs, move them.” No, there is a real sense in which I’m expected to get up and do something. What things might those be? What things help me in growing to look more like Christ? Well, there are several but here are just a few things to think about:
Daily consider yourself dead to sin (Romans 6:12)
Daily read and meditate on the Word (John 17:17, 2 Timothy 3:16)
Continuously joining in fellowship with other believers (Hebrews 10:24)
Develop a habit of daily prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:16-28)
Daily focus on Christ as your perfection and your righteousness (2 Cor. 3:18, Hebrews 12:1-2)
Daily confess and forsake known sins in your life (1 John 1:9; 2:1-2)
So there’s a start. These are just a few spiritual disciplines that can help move you further along in Christ-likeness. But before you go turning this into a “check list” of things you ought to be doing, also understand this: there is also a real sense in which God is the One working through us (Phil. 2:13). We may be doing the work but in reality God, through the Holy Spirit, is working through us to create these new desires, behaviors, and character traits. God, Himself, is working in you to produce the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).
In other words, God is working in us daily to make us more like Jesus. That’s what sanctification is.