SANCTIFICATION

In John 17:17-19 Jesus prayed that the Father would sanctify the disciples in the truth, God’s word is truth. Just what does it mean to be “sanctified?”

The word sanctified means “to be clean, consecrate, dedicate, to make holy.” So Jesus asked the Father to make His disciples holy. Guess what? He did!

Through Jesus’s being crucified, buried and raised again, and our being joined to Him, we have been Sanctified. God has set us apart from the world and made us holy for His purposes.

In many of the Apostle Paul’s letters he addresses the reader as “Saints.” The word “Saint” means “holy ones.” While many times we may not “feel” like we’re holy, God says, I have reconciled you to me in Jesus’s fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Me holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Colossians 1:21-22).

You simply can’t make yourself holy. God is the one who has done this “It is by His doing that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us “sanctification.” Sanctification isn’t something God gives us rather Christ Himself is our sanctification. If you are “in” Christ, you have come “out” of the world!

Many see sanctification as a process and I understand why. But let me describe it to you using marriage as an analogy. When my wife and I were married, the moment we said, “I do” we were as married as we were ever going to be. As the years roll on we are never more married than we were in the moment we said, “I do.” On the other hand, there has been quite a learning curve about what it means to be married. I think this is the “process” part of sanctification.

The Apostle Paul instructs us to “be not conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). The reason why is we are no longer “of” the world. Since we have been sanctified (set apart) from the world, we need to start seeing and understanding things from God’s viewpoint. Stop thinking and behaving as the world does and begin to see yourself as God sees you and that’s holy and blameless in His Son Jesus Christ.

Louie

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RENEWED IN THE SPIRIT OF YOUR MIND

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB).

“In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NASB).

“…since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Colossians 3:9b-10 NASB).

So many Christians struggle when it comes to walking the walk. The only thing I can think of as a solution is for us to simply take God at his word. In the above verses we are told in Christ we are a new creature needing to be renewed in the spirit of our minds. What, you might ask, does that really mean? Well, I’m glad you asked, and what it means is we are to start seeing ourselves the way God sees us with or without any outside confirmation.

According to the scriptures God created man in his image and likeness. What this means exactly, I think is sometimes lost on us; so let me put it this way. God is Spirit and created us so he might reveal himself. We were meant to be a visible expression of the invisible God. In fact Colossians says, speaking of Jesus, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” The good news here is that Jesus was never meant to be alone in his role of expressing God. You see, he was to be the “firstborn among many…” This means through his death, burial, resurrection and ascension, and our union in him, we too are to be restored to our original purpose which is displaying the image of God.

As a Christian the Holy Spirit of God has moved in to our lives in a very real and tangible way. The Bible encourages us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is…” (Romans 12:2 NASB). You see what Paul is telling us over and over throughout his letters is we are a new creature in Christ, but many of us have yet to truly embrace this as true. We have grown so accustomed to living our lives by being led around by our feelings, when it comes to being a Christian we can’t seem to let go and simply believe what God says about us. The main reason is because we don’t always “FEEL” like a new creature. I like to tell people sometimes when I wake up in the morning I don’t “FEEL” married, but I am. Salvation is sort of like that. Just because you don’t feel it at any particular moment doesn’t change anything.

How does this new creature behave then, you might ask. The answer is found in every letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the early church. In fact his usual method of writing was to tell his readers who they were in Christ (Holy, blameless and perfect) and then move on to tell them how the new creature behaves. You see without knowing who and what we are in Christ first there is no way we will behave or live like it. The more I study Paul’s writings the more I am astounded at his genius. Of course I know God is the inspiration behind it but it was through Paul’s character and intellect that he expressed these things. This is yet another example of what I’m talking about here. Paul’s whole life had been transformed after his meeting with the risen Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, and the nature of the new man shined brighter and brighter through him from then on.

Holy, blameless and perfect you say! I’m not perfect! I’m only human! You see this is the type of thing I’m talking about here. We are so accustomed to seeing ourselves as dirty, rotten scoundrels we struggle when we read things such as “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before him…” (Ephesians 1:4 NASB). He has “raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…(Ephesians 2:6 NASB). “In him you have been made complete…(Colossians 2:10). “For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14 NASB).

When all is said and done, being renewed in the spirit of our mind means that we believe what God says about us as his new creation. Being a Christian means God placed us into Christ and we have been eternally joined to him through his death, burial, resurrection and ascension. If he is the exact representation, or express image, of the invisible God and he now dwells in us, by way of his Spirit, we too have been made complete. We have been restored to our proper place as the image bearer of the one and only invisible God. Our job, if you will, is to let the invisible God become visible to all that see us walking in our new found freedom won for us by Jesus Christ on the cross.

Louie

 

 

TRANSFORMATION

Tracey and I took our monthly journey to share the Word with the ladies in prison. We meet in the visitation building so the ladies have to walk from their dorms. It was quite cold this time so there was no dawdling to get from point A to point B. I told them the good thing about it being so cold is I know they’re all awake. You know how easy it is to get sleepy when you’re warm.

There were forty seven women in attendance and the room filled up quickly. Of course several of them went straight to the restroom. The rule is only one at a time can go so there were five or six standing outside the door waiting their turn. Others were finding where they wanted to sit. As much as I would like for them to come in, sit down and get focused it never happens that way. I guess there is a certain amount of settling in we all have to do; so I have learned to just let them get there in their own time. Eventually they were seated and facing the front long enough for me to introduce myself and read Romans 12:2 to them. I said, “Does anyone know what Romans 12:2 says? One lady, who Tracey knew from our local jail, started to quote it saying, “Don’t be conformed to the world… but be transformed.” I told them I was going to talk to them about transformation a little bit later. I led in an opening prayer, and Tracey came up to lead us in a few songs.

We sang one song and then two, but I could still sense a restlessness in the room. It wasn’t until about midway through the third song the unity of the Spirit seemed to appear. We were singing “Victory in Jesus.” All of them seemed to finally be focused and together and it was awesome. I tell you there is nothing like being in a prison when everyone is engaged and looking toward Christ. I don’t think I have ever left prison without a sense of awe and gratitude for how God shows up through the lives of people when they are totally sold out to him.

Tracey shared with the ladies about “What the enemy didn’t tell you.” One of the scriptures she used is found in 2 Corinthians 4:4 where we discover “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” She shared with them about how the devil is a liar and his specialty is manipulation. He has a way of selling us something that may look good on the front end but he doesn’t tell us all of the unintended consequences.

When it was my turn I read Romans 12:2 to them again and talked to them about how the temptation to be conformed to the world is always there but we don’t have to be squeezed into it. As a child of God I don’t have to dress like, talk like and live like everyone else. While this doesn’t mean I can’t have the clothes, cars or other things out there; it just means I don’t have to have them, and I don’t have to let them control me just because everyone else has them. After spending a few minutes talking about not being conformed to the world I moved on to transformation.

God isn’t into fixing up the old you, I told them. He is into making you into a brand new creation. You see he didn’t send his one and only Son into this world to die for sin so he can put us into a self-improvement program. You see he not only sent him here to die, but his plan involved us dying too. According to Romans six we, that were sinners, have been joined to Christ in his death, burial and resurrection so we might walk in newness of life. In Christ we have become new creatures and the old is gone. We’re not just washed off we have been made brand new!

As I told them of my transformation I shared with them about the process a caterpillar goes through in order to become a butterfly. For those that haven’t watched it I would encourage you to watch the video about this found on the home page of this blog. I won’t go into the details here, but let me just say once a caterpillar becomes a butterfly there is no going back. No butterfly ever wants to be a caterpillar again nor can he be. He has been transformed. The word transformed comes from the Greek word metamorphoo, which is where we get our word metamorphosis, meaning to change, transfigure, transform. Just as the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly we too have been changed from a sinner into a Christian. Once we have been transformed there is no turning back.

I spent the rest of the time talking to them about the renewing of our minds. I shared with them how if we are new creatures “butterflies” we have to start thinking like it. We can’t go around thinking caterpillar thoughts expecting to live butterfly lives. All we need is in Christ, and if Christ is in us then we have all we need. We must be renewed in the spirit of our minds when putting on the new self.

Louie