Jesus was perfectly obedient to God. So how can we grow in our Christ-likeness and obedience to God? Well, let me tell you what I have learned and experienced first hand.
I initially did not understand this process until just a few years ago. That’s kind of sad as I have considered myself a follower of Christ Jesus for most of my life, a born again Christian, in communication with God and confident of my salvation and eternal life with God in heaven. But WOW!! Now that the Holy Spirit has given me his wisdom through The Word of God (The Bible) I have made significant progress. This has not been through my strength, power, or determination, but by the gift of the Holy Spirit! (I still have quite a way to go)!
Let’s cover Justification first here, and then move on to Sanctification, which means to be more like Jesus and be in obedience to God. Don’t get hung up on the big words, I’ll break it down for you.
When we confess our sins and trust in Jesus’ redemptive death and resurrection on the cross, we are then reconciled to God. Our sins have been forgiven and we have direct communication with God! At that exact point in time, we are justified once and forever even though we still sin. This is not just a “head” knowledge trust or acknowledgement of Jesus, it involves a heart change…. for even demons know Jesus exists!!! Don’t over think this though. If you believe, just ask God to expand that into a heart change so you can feel it and know it first hand.
- Apart from Jesus, all people:
- Are guilty of sin, slaves to sin, under the power of sin, and live only to please themselves.
- When we believe in Jesus:
- God justifies us-once and forever… even though we still sin.
- Jesus’ righteousness has become ours.
And just in case you are wondering, we have all sinned! We were born into sin! So don’t let anyone tell you that they have not sinned.
Romans 5:12 “Sin came into the world through one man, and his sin brought death with it. As a result, death has spread to the whole human race because everyone has sinned.”
Sometimes people categorize sin as only being the cardinal sins. But it is not just cardinal sins that have separated us from having a direct relationship with God the Father. It is all sins. Cardinal, Mortal, and Venial. Selfishness, anger, resentment, bitterness, lust, gossip, fear, anxiety, depression, etc. All sins! I have a friend that explains sin as “All the stupid things we do”!
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Don’t let people tell you or convince you that your sins are too bad to be forgiven or if “ you only knew what I have done”. No! You can read right here in the scriptures that all can be put right with God through Jesus Christ!
1 Corinthians 6:9-12 “Surely you know that the wicked will not possess God’s Kingdom. Do not fool yourselves; people who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves — none of these will possess God’s Kingdom. Some of you were like that. But you have been purified from sin; you have been dedicated to God; you have been put right with God by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
The Justification of righteousness is immediate (God saves you and you will have a future with him in heaven)!!! This is the Good News!!!
Once we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we also receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit who gives us his power and the desire in our hearts to trust and become more like Jesus.
Ephesians 1:13 “And now you have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Jesus Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago”.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
I like to think of this as getting a 2 for 1! When we receive the gift of forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the cross, then we get the gift within a gift. The bonus gift of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t God so good!
Now from the moment that you receive the “bonus” gift of the Holy Spirit, the process of sanctification begins and is a daily and on-going process. You can choose not to participate or acknowledge the whispers of the Holy Spirit, the nudges, the pull of your heart to want to be more like Jesus, (which many Christians do)! It doesn’t mean that you have “lost your salvation”! Or you can choose to be an active participant.
Initially, I didn’t realize that I had received the gift of the Holy Spirit in the first place. I didn’t realize what I was missing! A wonderful gift of a teacher, comforter, counselor, guide, That God planned salvation, Jesus accomplished it, and the Holy Spirit helps us apply and live it here in this earth!! God has provisioned us with all that we need to accomplish this process of sanctification. It is something that we cannot achieve on our own. We need the Holy Spirit! And it all starts with trust! Trust that the Lord is all powerful and that he keeps his promises!
Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”
- Sanctification is the process:
- of growing in Christ-likeness and
- obedience to God.
- Sanctification is a Holy Spirit empowered break with the love of… power of… and practice of sin.
- Sanctification gives us the power and growing desire to choose righteousness over sin.
- Because of the cross of Jesus and through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, believers are sanctified.
What does this look like?
- When I believe, I am confident God’s sanctification process will be finalized, or brought to completion, even when I fail.
- When I do not believe, I feel vulnerable, defeated, ashamed, burdened and trapped by my continual, daily fight with sin.
Remember: the Holy Spirit empowers us to live in ways consistent with our righteous verdict and status:
- What sin do you think is too hard for God to break in your life?
- What keeps you from doing what God says and empowers you to do?
Remember: Sanctification is an ongoing process in the believer’s life:
- The struggle is real; there are no short cuts to sanctification.
- Where are you trusting instead of trying when it comes to sin?
- Sanctification is a matter of trusting AND trying.
Be encouraged! We are to enjoy the peace of God knowing we have been made right with Him. Our daily struggle with sin… reminds us that He is not finished with us yet. He is changing us into the likeness of His son, Jesus.
- We are all human and sinners and regardless of how hard we try not to sin, not to be full of fear and anxiety, depression, etc. we are not capable on our own.
- The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and knows what we ought to pray for and intercedes himself in accordance with Gods will. (Romans 8:26-27).
- The Holy Spirit helps us to apply the free gift of salvation in our lives each day.
Here are some ways to begin to experience the benefits of being a Christian engaged with the Holy Spirit in a way that you may not yet have experienced. If this is you today, then get ready to experience God in a new and more indepth relationship!
- After acknowledging Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and asking for forgiveness of your sins, specifically ask God to receive the Holy Spirit and God will give the Holy Spirit to you as it is written. Luke 11:11-13
- Jesus is preparing to leave and ascend to heaven and promises the Holy Spirit. John 14: 16-28
- The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, WHOM my Father will send in my name. John 14:26
- Jesus opened the disciples understanding of the bible and the Holy Spirit clothed them in Power. Luke 24:45-49
- Feed the Holy Spirit by Reading the Scriptures (Isaiah 55:11 as the scriptures will never come back empty but will accomplish what God has intended)
- The Holy Spirit will do the rest! (Philippians 1:6) God will complete the good work in you that he started when you heard and believed the Gospel)!
- God can do more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20, 21)
- Eye has not seen nor ear heard…which God hath prepared for them that love him (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Additional Scriptures: (I will add in the scriptures and a few more attributes of the Holy Spirit as time allows).
- Acts 1:8 – You will receive Power from the Holy Spirit
- 1 Peter 1:5 – You will receive Protection
- 1 Peter 5:7 – Cast your anxiety and fears on him
- Romans 8: 5-15 References Life and walking in the Spirit
- Ephesians 4; What your focus should be walking with the Holy Spirit
- Acts 20: 22-23 Paul is drawn by the irresistible Holy Spirit and is in ongoing conversation
- Acts 8:26-29 The Spirit TOLD Philip (the Spirit speaks and he can speak to you)!
During this time of lent, I would encourage you to dig into these scriptures and pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you to God’s truths! God bless you on your life’s journey of sanctification!