My family thought it was a smart idea to drive from west Tennessee to Washington D.C. one time. Just once. With three young, hyper boys in the back seat we didn’t make it down the drive way without someone fighting with someone and a stern look from my parents. It wasn’t until one of us had the bright idea to ask, “Are we there, yet?” for the one hundredth and twelfth time that we realized that the threat to leave us somewhere in Virginia was no idle threat. How often is the Christian life like a long car ride? It’s so hard not to keep asking the same question, “are we there, yet?” Sanctification, or the process of becoming more and more like Christ, is a complex subject. For Christians we are stuck between two worlds of salvation, the “already” and the “not yet”. We have already been declared righteous by God based upon the atoning work of Christ therefore being free from the power of sin, yet we have not yet been liberated from the presence of sin. I don’t know about you, but often times I get frustrated with the process of sanctification. I get frustrated when I lack consistency in my daily Christian walk. I get frustrated when I struggle with worry and doubt and fear and guilt and a whole long list of things I feel like I should have put away a long time ago! The problem is that the process of becoming more like Jesus is one that is gradual. So how are we as Christian to react to inconsistency?
Here are some brief tips I think can help:
1) Realize the guarantee of sanctification.
Paul was pretty confident in Philippians 1 when he said, “He who began a good work in you will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus.” Our sanctification is guaranteed because the work is not done primarily by us. The work is done by God. God began salvation in you, will continue to work salvation in you and will one day perfect you in full salvation. It is sure! In Ephesians 5:25-26, we see that Christ gave himself up for us in his death, not just to make us right with God, but “that he might sanctify her.” What a beautiful truth! That Christ is the one that cleans us up and makes us more like him.
2) Strive for sanctification.
Although God is the one that works salvation in us, we are still accountable for our actions. How foolish would it be of us to claim it is God’s fault we don’t trust him enough because he hasn’t sanctified us to that point yet? So for the Christian we strive in sanctification. We fight for it because we have been given a new heart that desires to be like our Heavenly Father. If we have no desire to grow in Christ then chances are we are still under the bondage of sin. Our pursuit in sanctification shows outwardly a change that has occurred within us.
3) Read the Bible consistently.
Jesus prayed in John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Ultimately we will grow more and more like Christ when we dwell in his word.
4) Break some bad habits.
We all have things in our life that we know aren’t healthy to our spiritual walk. Cut them out. If you want to lose weight stop eating Big Macs for every meal. Maybe you need to cut out the types of movies you watch, the books you read or the music you listen to. What ever it is, it is a small price to pay for the glory that is to come.
5) Gather with a fellowship of believers.
Sanctification is better done in community. Community helps to encourage and rebuke, and these things are required in sanctification. If we neglect these things then we are selling ourselves short. A famous saying of an early church father was, “He cannot have God for his Father who will not have the Church for his mother.”
Regardless of how beat down we get in our battle with sin, let us trust that God will complete the work he started in us and give us the power to live a life holy and pleasing to him.