Last week I ended the post with the words,
It is time to make SANCTIFICATION our priority
Sanctification is a serious word with a serious meaning – to be made more holy, that is to become more like Jesus Christ, and to grow in devotion to him.
But how does that happen ?
The answer is straightforward, though very uncomfortable. It is contained in our next passage for consideration in Matthew’s Gospel account, chapter 20 and verses 17 to 19 which say:
And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,
Behold we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify: and the third day he shall rise again.
Jesus Christ knowingly went to Jerusalem to be crucified. He willingly went forward to meet certain and painful death, knowing that this was the plan of God.
The plan of God was that Jesus death would be the sacrifice for you and I – Jesus died in our place on the cross to pay the penalty for sin which you and I deserve – death and separation from God.
Jesus went to suffer and die, knowing full well the greater plan and purpose of God the Father.
So too must we.
I am not talking about a literal death here – though in places of intense hostility to Christianity that does occur.
No, I am talking of the death experience every Christian must pass through on a regular basis, the process of death to SELFISHNESS.
We must have the same set determination to face down our resistance to dying to our selfishness, knowing and prizing the greater purpose of God to make us holy – more like Jesus and more devoted to God.
Paul’s letters make explicit mention of this process as central and vital. Phrases like laying aside self or the old man, and putting on the new man we gained in full immersion water baptism.
Baptism of course is a symbol of this death and resurrection process we share with Christ. We gain the benefit of his resurrection life because we identify with his death on the cross and his resurrection. By following the ordained process and method of God, we actually avail ourselves of Christ’s life.
Romans chapter 6 is explicit about this.
But having passed through the once-for-all experience of full immersion water baptism to identify with Jesus Christ – not just symbolically but spiritually – we must then live out the death and resurrection process, daily.
Presenting our lives a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service
Romans chapter 12, verse 1.
Dying to aspects of self as God arranges them through the circumstances of our lives.
Dying to Pride; dying to lust; dying to all our ungodly, earthly desires.
Dying not just to remain dead – but to have our minds renewed with a new attitude where the previous problem of pride or lust has no place – where such desire has gone – and is replaced by a godly attitude, a godly desire. Romans 12 verse 2 says:
and be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God
Which the apostle Paul tells us in his first letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 4 and verse 3 to be sanctification:
for this is the will of God, your sanctification.
Time and again believers get caught in the syndrome of “What is God’s will for me, for my life ?”
“What shall I do ? Where shall I go ? What is my career – where shall I work ? Whom should I marry ?”
Etc. etc. etc.
All of which misses the point entirely.
This is the mindset of demonic spirituality.
It focuses on me and my circumstances and wanting somehow to be better off in this world. In fact there is an entire faith movement so-called which emphasises this idea – it is heresy; it is false; it is therefore dangerous and misleading.
Godly, biblically based spirituality is totally different.
In Biblical Christian teaching, we are simply to give thanks to God for our present circumstances, praise him, and get on with life. We are not to seek to change them. God will arrange that in his good time and purpose.
What we are required to do is die to self.
We are required to consciously take the attitude that we are going to be made more holy, as he arranges our circumstances and relationships; that we should face the possibility maturely and responsibly; ready to surrender our own selfish desires as God demands, when and how he demands. NEVER look to arrange your own programme of sanctification. NEVER !
As we surrender those aspects of our self life to God, following the example of Jesus Christ, then guess what ?
We gain the same reward, his resurrection life. We gain more of the power and grace to actually live as God wants us to live, showing his love and grace to others; allowing his presence and power to manifest itself in our lives, and so touch others.
The point is to live for God, by means of God’s Holy Spirit, in the way God wants us to live, manifesting the reality of his teaching and his love and grace.
This is not unproven theory, nor yet fanciful thinking. This is the actual reality of living the Christian life.
Living the life – God’s life, in God’s way, to God’s glory and praise.
We cannot live for God or become like God in any other way.
So, don’t expect the answer from Religion, or church structures, or particular denominational teaching at variance with the explicit word of God in the New Testament of the Bible.
Look to God – to his example and his reality in the ministry, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.