Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sanctification: A Process of the Heart, Not THE LIST

"But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption..." 1 Corinthians 1:30

We don't need one more thing to add to our "to do" list. We aren't looking to learn five more steps to be a better person. Life is complicated enough, busy enough, hard enough not to add more to our already full plates. So when anyone suggests we strive to become more Godly, more Christ-like we tend to shrink back and say, "Not now, Lord." Why? Because we think it will be a long list of things we are responsible for doingWe're looking to take things off our plates, not things to heap on top of what's already there.

That's exactly what I thought when God recently gave me the gift of a new word: sanctification. When God places a word in front of me multiple times, in multiple settings within a short span of time, he's asking me to pay attention. I've sat on this word for a week thinking I've got too many things on my "to do" list already but it keeps coming up in everything I read so I guess God's trying to say something.

The dictionary defines sanctification like this: to purify or free from sin; to make holy, set apart as sacred; to make productive or conducive to spiritual blessing. The first two definitions add nothing to our "to do" lists. It is a free gift, if we accept it. But the third definition leans towards a cooperative effort on our part with God.

First, it is by Christ's death we are purified, set free from sin once and for all therefore, I am made holy before God. There's nothing we can do to earn that; nothing we have to do to become sanctified except confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Christ died for my sins (Romans 10:9).

Second, Christ calls us out, sets us apart as sacred before God as the Church: "...to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (I Corinthians 1:2).

Now here comes our part...sort of..."to make productive or conducive to spiritual blessing." To receive a spiritual blessing, we must be in a state where our lives are conducive, ready to produce the good things that bring blessing. But how do we do that on our own? How do we know what the "right" things are? Is it all up to us to know, to do? Yes and no.

When Jesus was preparing to leave his disciples in charge of his ministry he said, "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26).  We are not left on our own to figure out how to make our lives more conducive, more open to God's blessing. He has sent his invisible, Holy Spirit to take up residence in our hearts, to lead the way.

Let's continue this conversation tomorrow...Add it to your list.

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