How Sanctification Works

When we become believers, we’re given a couple of gifts.

1) We get to go to Heaven when we die.

2) We get to have a relationship with God now.

What we’re not given is instantaneous spiritual maturity.

We are the same ole shmucks we were before we accepted Christ, screwing things up, refusing to cooperate with God and His plan for our lives, oscillating between giving up on this life that’s just too hard and trying to control every little thing under the sun in an attempt to self-protect. We keep these patterns up when we begin walking with Christ. They don’t magically disappear.

And every day for the rest of our lives, we have a choice to make: will we cooperate with the Lord’s desire to gently grow us out of our self-defeating patterns, or will we hold onto our patterns more tightly than we hold onto our Christ? A lot of us mentally assent to the former while living the latter…

This whole process of “growing up” in the Lord is called sanctification. And the Bible speaks to it. In fact all of Paul’s letters to different churches contain encouragement for them to mature spiritually because it’s that important and it’s that central to the Christian life. So it’d behoove us to explore how sanctification works.

Today, I want to highlight just two verses on the subject.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Both these scriptures speak to growing spiritually… But did you notice how that growing occurs?

God does it.

GOD does it.

God DOES it. 

God does IT!

Is that not the best news you’ve heard in awhile?!

Our only responsibility in this whole “making ourselves better” thing is to be open to the Lord, to have a cooperative spirit. He does all. the. rest. 

We don’t have to try harder to be better Christians or read more or serve more or pray more or tithe more or ______ more or get our own hearts right or pull ourselves up by our boot straps.

We aren’t responsible for our own sanctification. We are only responsible for being willing to be sanctified by God, and He will surely do it.

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5 thoughts on “How Sanctification Works

  1. First of all, excellent use of oscillating. Don’t hear that word often but it is so descriptive! =) So,… “oscillating between giving up on this life that’s just too hard and trying to control every little thing under the sun in an attempt to self-protect” is right where I am today. Both sides of the fan. Neither place feeling very cool. Thank you for this reminder today of God’s work in my life! Surely!

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