Sanctification is a lifelong process of maturation in Christ and though it may be pursued diligently, it is never fully attained, in this life. Let me share with you one area of your life in which “sanctification” is able to lift you, immediately from a powerful sin. Adultery, sexual immorality and pornography are huge problems in our world. Temptation abounds, as perhaps never before. But it is not only the act of adultery or sexual sin that convicts you; it is the “contemplation” of adultery or sexual sin that convicts you, as well. Listen.
Matthew 5:27-28 (NKJ)
27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Our aim is to be sanctified by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. We seek to have the mind of Messiah in us, to behave in a saintly fashion towards others, and to be able to say, “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.”
From the moment that you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you are saved from eternal suffering and eternal death. There is no other way to “join.” You can not by “membership, family affiliations, good works, merit badges, plaques honoring your contributions and services” achieve your salvation. These “works” and “affirmations by man,” are as nothing in the eyes of God.
If salvation could be achieved, Jesus Christ went to the cross for nothing. Those words must be indelibly impressed upon our hearts for one very big reason. Pride is the “not so silent” killer. Pride in “serving,” pride in “being used,” pride in “leading people to Jesus,” is just as insidious a sin as any other sin, perhaps even more so. Pride is at the very seat of sin. Our need for “control” and “affirmation from others” drives us to a self-centeredness, which distances us from seeking to serve the will of God. It is our will, not His that we often seek to fulfill.
Salvation is a gift from God, given by grace, not something we could ever merit. It is a gift, freely given, because He loves you and He loves me. He wants us, through faith in the fact of the cross, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, to enter into His eternal peace, starting now. God wants your heart, your servant’s heart toward Him, now. Yes “works” are of consequence, but only as evidence of our love, not as a means to gain personal merit. Our strength is in Him, not ourselves. It is His Heart in you that makes your works, His works.
As you pursue a personal relationship with the Messiah, the Lord, you will come to find, if you haven’t already, that it is exactly that; a pursuit. You do not, this side of eternity, realize complete victory. You are living in a pigpen, so to speak, in which Satan is referred to as the “ruler.” The contamination is all around you. Listen to Solomon.
Ecclesiastes 9:10-12 (NKJ)
10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
11 I returned and saw under the sun that– the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.
12 For man also does not know his time: like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.
We are snared in an evil time. Would you not agree that is true? You can surround yourself with the power of the Holy Spirit in the midst of this chaos and know the peace and power of the Holy Spirit, but you are greatly mistaken if you believe this earth is capable of perfection, peace and eternal safety. There is only one haven and that is heaven. We seek to be there, yet we run the race set before us. Listen to the way Paul puts it.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJ)
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus did for us what no other person could have done. He came from the presence of the Father, to fulfill the will of the Father. Absent the resolve of the Father to rescue His children from the sin which engulfs them, sin would remain an unresolved circumstance and would prevent our being in His Holy Presence. The race, as it were, had to be run. Jesus did not look forward to the punishment but He did look forward to the end result. Listen again to Paul.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NKJ)
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Sanctification is a process, a lifelong process. Run the race that God set before you, fortified in your heart, with the knowledge that you are seeking to fulfill His will for your life, not your will. Do not despair if your relationship with Him is more “quiet” than “showy.” We are all called to serve and we each have been equipped differently. You are one of God’s resources. Listen to the Apostle Paul’s message to you.
Romans 12:1-21 (NKJ)
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,
5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;
7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Ask God what He wants you to do with the intellectual, economic and physical resources He has given you. Seek to “bear fruit.” In the process of seeking Him lies total uncertainty, in terms of how God may use you, but total certainty that He has expectations of you that far more exciting and of eternal value than any role in life in which He is absent.
You may be thinking, “Of what use can I be? I am not a writer or a preacher or even able physically to serve God in some special way.” Each of us needs to learn the lesson of what Jesus taught in these next verses.
Luke 21:1-4 (NKJ)
1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury,
2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.
3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all;
4 “for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
This lesson does not just pertain to economic wealth, although it is clear that giving more than others matters not. What matters is answered by the question, “What did you do with the resources I gave you?” If you feel you have meager resources, of any kind, do not get comfortable with the idea that God expects meager effort. What each of us must do is appeal to God for His will to be fulfilled in our lives. Sanctification is the lifelong process of seeking His presence and seeking to serve Him and to glorify Him. What are you doing with the resources He has given you? This is a question you must answer because surely it is going to be asked. Listen to the wisdom of the Word:
2 Corinthians 8:12 (NKJ)
12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.
That verse, as well as the entire Bible, is typical of the wisdom that God wants you to seek. You must resolve to be taught His Word, through the Word, now! I have quoted this verse before, but if sanctification is your hope, the Word is your only reliable resource.
Hebrews 4:12 (NKJ)
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Sanctification involves obedience to God’s laws and precepts. One could hardly move toward sanctification as you move away from obedience. If you are making a decision to obey God in all things, it will require you to rethink some of your habits. The world’s disdain, for example, of keeping the Sabbath holy, has moved us in a direction God never intended and in a direction for which I suspect we shall all be judged. Listen to what the Lord said to Moses.
Exodus 31:12-17 (NKJ)
12 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.
14 ‘You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.
15 ‘Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
16 ‘Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.
17 ‘It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ “
I realize that this teaching has become very unpopular, especially among the Gentiles. It is often classified as “legalism” and discarded as a “works” based righteousness. The result has been that the Sabbath has become no different than any other day of the week for many people. I am not suggesting that the “Blue Laws” (closing all stores on Sunday) are the law of the land, but you do not need a law of men to honor the Law of God.
The Sabbath should be a day in which we honor the Lord. It should be a day of “righteousness and thanksgiving,” a day for families to join together in worship. I believe that Satan rejoices at the mockery that the world has made of the Sabbath just as he rejoices when the Lord’s name in taken in vain, repeatedly.
Sanctification is a personal matter. You decide whether or not you should honor the Lord’s day differently than you do now (which day of the week you choose to rest in Him matters not, in my opinion). But this is the heart of the matter, isn’t it? You, communing with His Holy Word, you listening to God, you asking for His guidance, you seeking His wisdom, you seeking His powers of discernment in you. Sanctification is about your personal growth as you get to know God. It will take time but don’t make childish excuses for clinging to sin if you sense that it is indeed, sin. Listen.
James 4:17 (NKJ)
17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Is there something more important to you than developing a close personal relationship with the Lord? Whatever it is, it is classified as an “idol” because you look more to “it” than to God. I pray that you will place communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit above all other endeavors. You are going to be judged based on the Light in you. Let that Light become a beacon that you move toward without wavering. Sanctification awaits those who seek to be saints, not in and of their own power, but by the will of God.
I will not be able to quote this next point accurately because I lack the reference at hand, but the author knows I honor his efforts as I support the point. You can have one of two kinds of relationship to God’s Light, His powers of discernment, and His guidance. Compare the first kind of “relationship” to a banquet table of wonderful food, perfectly prepared and bountifully available.
Compare the second to a table full of food that has been eaten by others, spit out and also readily available for consumption. When you read what I and other men and women have to say, you are feasting on “waste” as it were, compared to the perfect diet. God’s Holy Word is where you need to go for guidance. It is perfectly and abundantly served by One who has revealed Himself, willingly, to those who would look to Him.
I have made this point in other topics but it bears repeating. The day will come when the Word that you may have largely ignored will no longer be available. Listen.
Amos 8:11-13 (NKJ)
11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it.
13 “In that day the fair virgins and strong young men shall faint from thirst.
The thirst, from which you will someday faint, is a thirst for hearing the words of the Lord. I don’t know if you grasp this truth, but as you stand in a place where opportunity to listen to God abounds and you fail to partake, you will someday be very sorry. When you step into His presence, you may very well hear the words, “Depart from me for I never knew you.”
How do you get to know our Lord? What steps are you taking? You could not be the “enemy” or you would not be reading this! If you seek sanctification, join with David who said:
Psalm 19:7-14 (NKJ)
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.
13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.