Thoughts on Sanctification
|"This is my journey through recovery, showing how my Creator is using the the 12-Step Christian recovery model to give me relief from the behaviors that bring me pain." --Sid|
Because of the pain we face, many of us enter into the process of recovery to find victory over those sins that most easily beset us, and this is good. But what we discover, as we get deeper into the recovery (sanctification) process, is that we are having a profound spiritual awakening, and this is the best part.
After the difficult work of becoming more honest, learning to trust more, and consecrating ourselves to God, we can now begin to rejoice with the Psalmist, for "IT IS A GOOD THING TO GIVE THANKS UNTO THE LORD, AND TO SING PRAISES UNTO THY NAME, O MOST HIGH:" (Psalm 92:1 ). Our joy becomes unrestrained, for we desire "To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands." (Psalm 92:2,4 ). "Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day." (Psalm 96:2 ).
More and more, as I practice these principles of sanctification in all areas of my life, I find not only healing for myself but healing in those around me as well. My relationships with God and with people continue to improve. No, these relationships are not perfect, but as I grow, by the grace and power of God, I rejoice in the increasing peace and happiness I find.
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:15-17 )
"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." (Step 12)
As I search for God's will for my life, my first consideration is the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-20 ). Then I recall that, "... this is the will of God, even [my] sanctification..." (1 Thessalonians 4:3 ). More specifically, the apostle Paul tells me that God's will is that I should be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2 ), and that I should do the will of God from my heart (Ephesians 6:6 ). He also said that, no matter what happens, I should give thanks, because that's God's will (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ).
I really want to do God's will because "he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:17 ) and because Jesus said, "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." (Mark 3:35 ). I want to be tight with Jesus. I want to do the will of God. I want to be transformed/sanctified. But, can I actually accomplish this? A short answer was given when, "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark 9:23 ).
So, I must ask myself: How great is my trust in God? Will I trust Him enough to choose to do His will, even when it seems impossible? Do I really believe in His great and precious promises?
"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:3,4 )
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13 )
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 )
As I continue to search for God's will for my life, and the power to carry that out, once again I come back to surrender -- I want to die to self and be alive to God. I think Paul said it best, when he said: "I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20 )
Is it possible to do God's will -- all the time? With all the evidence given me in Holy Scripture, I must answer "Yes". My ability to do God's will is directly proportional to how much I empty my life of "self", because that's just how much He can fill me with His sweet Holy Spirit. That's how much He can "will and to do of his good pleasure" in my life (Philippians 2:13 ).
"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." (Step 11)
As we progress through the process of sanctification, there come times when things seem to be going well. During those times, it is so easy to let life in this busy world control us, and maybe even numb us to spiritual things. When this happens, it behooves us to "... listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it" (Hebrews 2:1 ). To "drift away" could easily cause us to fall back into our sins of the past.
That's why it is important for me to take time daily for introspection -- asking God to convict me of sin in my life and then I must promptly admit it and deal with it, according to His will. This brings me peace, and peace is exactly what I need, in order to face another day in this crazy hectic world.
" For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?" (Hebrews 2:2-3 )
"Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it." (Step 10)
" Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." (Romans 12:17-18 )
There are some people from my past for which I have been unable to make amends. For various reasons, it hasn't been possible. Through my recovery process (since 1994), I've become willing to make amends to them all. And, maybe someday, I'll have the opportunity to do that for some. But for others, it wouldn't be a good idea because it could cause further injury. I pray for these people, when God brings them to my mind, but I feel bad that I can’t do more.
Maybe I can do more. Many years ago I said to God, "I've spent much of my life doing things that have hurt other people. Now I want to spend the rest of my life doing what I can to help other people". I know this doesn't make up for the pain I have caused. And I know that doing good doesn't justify me in the sight of God. I am still a wretched sinner, only saved by the blood of Jesus. But in hurting people, I know I have done harm to the human race and to God.
So now, I choose to do what I can to make amends to the human race. That is why I write in this blog. That is why I facilitate small groups. That is why I mentor and/or sponsor men in need. That is why I speak publicly on sanctification/recovery topics. But, that’s not my only reason for doing these things. I do them because it helps me too. It keeps recovery topics fresh in my mind. It keeps me accountable, as I share my weaknesses. All these things help to accelerate my own recovery. And that’s gooood :-)
"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (James 5:16 ) "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Revelation 12:11 )
"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." (Step 9)
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16 ) Scripture is full of texts like this that show God's willingness to save us from those sins that "so easily beset us" (Heb 12:1 ). There is no question, in my mind, as to the willingness of God.
Because of this, it seems to me that, my recovery process is largely dependent upon my willingness.
The question is, "Will I continue to willingly follow God's leading through this process of Sanctification?" Yes, making amends is uncomfortable. It's even scary. But, looking back now on the many times that I have willingly made amends, I can honestly say that the pain is well worth the gain. Peace always comes to me out of the turmoil of those painful experiences.
Jesus said, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matthew 5:23-24 ). "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.' Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good." (Romans 12:20-21 )
"Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all." (Step 8)
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