Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sanctifying Life: 6 More Stepping Stones

Sanctification is the topic of the previous article which discussed the first 5 stepping stones.  This article describes 6 more facits of the definition provided by a dictionary definition.             The Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “sanctify” with the following:  to cleanse, purify, set apart, separate, prepare for divine service, ordain and appoint to the work of redemption, cleanse from corruption, purify from sin, render productive of holiness or piety, make free from guilt, and secure from violation.      
At this point, reading the previous article will help fit this together.  Sanctifying life is like crossing a flowing stream of water.  God gives us stepping stones to navigate, but we need to intentionally take the steps and allow the cleansing process of the water to work out the details.  A decision to follow Jesus is not the final destination.  Salvation of our soul begins the journey of crossing the stream of life to fall into the arms of Father God on the other side.  
As we look at these 6 stepping stones, let’s again ask ourselves the question, “Am I living living a sanctifying life?”   Which of these areas might God have you focus on for change?
6. Ordain and appoint to the work of redemption - (2 Corinthians 5)  To redeem is to purchase back or to deliver.  Our sinful condition from birth made us a prisoner in slarery to the enemy.  Jesus delivered our soul from this condition.  Christ’s deliverance gives us more freedom as we surrender more of our heart to the process.  But it doesn’t stop there.  God makes us part of an army sent out to deliver others.  God sanctifies our life so that our focus does not remain on our own welfare, but the welfare of others.  In the journey of crossing the stream, our duties include helping others prevent drowning and finding the stepping stones to sustain life.  Are you able to explain to someone else what Christ’s  “redemption” means?  Are you growing in your understanding and practice of forgiveness and reconciliation?  Are you able to extend grace to close friends  (in their imperfections), and can you give your trust to God, for Him to do His work, with His timing and methods, in their lives?  
7. Cleanse from corruption - (Proverbs 20:10; 2 Peter 2:17-22)  The Bible says,  “People are  slaves to whatever has mastered them” (2 Peter 2:19).  Sometimes we need deliverance for something that has a particular strong hold on our thinking and behavior.  Addiction would be an example of this.  Or, corrupt activity may be in our family line producing destructive patterns. We may even need outside help to become free.  Is there a bad habit in your life you have tried to kick, but you can’t get victory over it?  What desires (that lead to bad deeds) seem hardest to control?  What undesirable habits exist in your family line, and what is the impact on your life?   
8. Purify from sin - (Mark 7:17-23)  Sin is not about wrong actions, as much as it is about a corrupted condition of heart.   Allowing your heart to be reconditioned and purified by Jesus, removes the desire to sin.  Change from the inside out produces more lasting results.  Turning bitterness and resentment over to God will free the heart of rage leading to an act like murder.  The Bible calls them “bitter roots” (see Hebrews 12:15).  Anger is often a sign of a bitter root.  Bitter roots are created by routine critical judgments we make (so common we are not even aware of them).  This topic of  inner life change is frequently discussed in previous articles on my web site.  What is your anger trying to tell you about your heart condition?  Are you “seeing to it” that no bitter root is given room in your heart (see Hebrews 3:13, 12:15)?  What part of your belief system is causing you to form critical opinions (judgments) of people?  
9. Render productive of holiness or piety - (1 Corinthians 7:1)  God is holy.  No man can be holy in the way God is holy.  However, Christians are to represent God’s holiness as best as is possible for mankind.  We are to give God the “glory due his name” (Psalm 29:2).  Jesus commanded us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).  
What does it mean for God to be holy?  Do you love him with all your being?   Is there an idol that might stand in the way?  What is the next step to removing the ungodliness from your life?  
10. Make free from guilt - (Hebrews 10:22)  Repentance prepares the way for sanctification.  Guilt is a good thing, and should lead us to confession and repentance (turning away from wrong doing).  Don’t confuse guilt with shame. Shame condemns who you are as a person.  God does not condemn people for who they are.  God condemns wrong doing (sin).  God provides forgiveness for wrong doing.  Shame comes from condemning self ( rejecting self) as not worthy of God’s forgiveness.  Along with any actions that offend God, we can repent for the guilt of shaming ourselves, and thus be free of shame as well!  God works forgiveness and sanctification.  Our good works can never take the place of that for which we must rely on God.  Are there sins for which you have not repented and asked God’s forgiveness?  Are you trying to “work off” (perform your way out of) a guilty conscience?   Are you feeling condemnation (shame) that is holding you back from the freedom Christ has provided you?  Are you willing to repent (turn these things over to God) and receive his forgiveness?  Do it right now!
11. Secure from violation - (Psalm 91) “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  ….  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation”  (Psalm 91:1,16).  God is our salvation.  Our “good works” to not save us.  In fact, our attempts to get good enough for God, end up driving us further away.  Going to church, practicing spiritual disciplines, nor progress made (past experiences) in the areas mentioned above, can be relied on for salvation.  We must surrender (hand over) the steering wheel and let God be the Driver for our remaining journey on the sanctifying life.   In the metaphor of crossing the stream, we must hold out our hand and let God’s strong hand-grip  deliver us from the raging, over-powering currents.   Is God the place where your security lies?  To what degree are other people, places, or things in the way of God being a greater  Refuge; Salvation; Sanctifying Life?  Is he your Source (is your full trust in him) for all the good change mentioned above?   
There is a verse in the Bible that people often mis-interpret, and thus rely too much on self-effort for the sanctifying life.  “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) is to reinforce living out the previous verses  with honor and respect for God. The verse before it summarizes, “every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory of God the Fatherj” (Pilippians 2:11).    “Work out your salvation” is not a license to trust in your own efforts to be saved, but an admonishment to cooperate with the work of God in our lives.  This is explicitly stated in the next verse, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).  The work of sanctifying life is merely to surrender to, and cooperate with, the work of God In this world.   
Are there things in your life you want to see improved a year from now? Do you want to be a better person?  Do you want to lead, speak, parent, teach, or work with more authority and influence?  Unfortunately, most people aren’t willing to make the changes necessary for sanctifying life, but, if you are still reading this article, you are likely one of the ones who are.  Thus, I have a challenge for you.  For  each of the next eleven months, take one of the areas above and make it a focus for positive change in your life.  Study the Bible on the topic.  I gave some Scripture references for starters.  Pray about it.  Ask God to show you areas that need changed (sanctified) and allow Him to show you how to make it happen.  He is more than willing to meet you where you are (in the stream) and sanctify your life for the journey (left to navigate).  Take the twelth and final month as an evaluation and planning (rest) month the next year.  Evaluate with questions like the following.  Am I now more comfortable with the process of change?   What is the hardest part?  In what areas do I see the greatest improvements?  How can I help others and join with others in sanctifying life?  
One more question ..  Does this article ask enough questions?  <smile>  Please write to me and whare with me any new questions  that come to your mind.  Share your answers too.  I trust God has all the answers!  

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry