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|
"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." (Proverbs 28:13 ). "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16 ).
"Perhaps the single greatest barrier to recovery is the inability to be honest". (Steps to Serenity, page 46)
"The only reason why we do not have remission of sins
that are past is that we are not willing to humble our hearts
and comply with the conditions of the word of truth.
Explicit instruction is given concerning this matter.
Confession of sin, whether public or private, should be heartfelt
and freely expressed." Ellen White (Steps to Christ, 38)
My unresolved issues isolated me from other people and from God. But, as I began to be honest with myself, God and with others, those barriers of isolation began to come down. I started to feel better about myself - my sense of shame was reduced. A common saying in 12-Step is, "We are only as sick as our secrets". There is a lot of truth to this.
Friend, if you are encumbered with a load of guilt and shame, I invite you to enter into this ancient, Christian tradition of confession. Jesus died on that cruel, old rugged cross to pay the penalty for your sins, and mine. And He is longing now to bless us with a new and better life, but He needs us to come out of denial and confess our sins.
For, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:8-9 )
"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." (Step 5)
"We won’t dare to place ourselves in the same league or to compare ourselves with some of those who are promoting themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they have no understanding." (2 Corinthians 10:12 )
Rather than making a difficult inventory of my own moral condition (introspection), it is much easier to make an extrospective (examining what is outside yourself) inventory of my environment and/or of other people. I would much rather compare myself with you than to look inside to compare myself with Jesus, and His direction in my life. But, when I choose extrospection, I lose a wonderful opportunity for emotional and spiritual well-being.
Introspection is often painful because of the mess we are likely to find in ourselves. Most are unwilling to take this step, finding it much too depressing to even consider. I would like to suggest that this commonly held view is due to our lack of trust and lack of understanding.
If I don't believe that God will help me overcome those sins which so easily beset me (Hebrews 12:1 ), then introspection could lead me toward suicide. Conversely, if I have total confidence that God is willing, able, and desiring to give me peace and to make me whole, then introspection becomes a privilege! It becomes a tool to help me understand why I am the way I am. It helps me to know what to pray for. It helps me to know what sort of situations and/or people to avoid. It helps me to understand the direction my life needs to take. And the list of benefits goes on and on...
The good news is that no matter how ugly the results of introspection, it is still true that "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 ) And, it is still true that Christ will never leave me, nor forsake me :-) (Hebrews 13:5 ).
"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (Step 4)
Jesus, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." (1 Peter 2:24-25 )
As a sinner, I stray away from the Good Shepherd, seeking to do my own thing in my own way. But because He is the Good Shepherd He never stops pursuing me, continually seeking to lead me back to His fold of safety.
Without Him I am powerless and can never find my way back (John 15:5 ). But, because He pursues me, I am able to choose to follow Him. It's that "choosing" that's the hardest part because when temptation comes, it trys to lure me away from the safety of the fold. That "fold" is the place where I trust and obey. It's the place where I choose to follow Him, not knowing what the outcome will be. It's the place where I "die" to my own ideas of how to deal with problems and live with my life hid in Christ -- the Shepherd and Overseer (Bishop) of my life.
The beauty of the "fold" is in its safety and power, because as I choose to do the good that I am unable to do, the Good Shepherd wraps His loving arms around me and gives me strength (Philippians 4:13 ). "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:3 ).
"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." (Step 3)
Having been in recovery since 1994, I have to wonder if God has restored me to sanity yet. What exactly does it mean to be sane? Albert Einstein once defined insanity as, "Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results." I sure did a lot of that while practicing my additions, but am I still living my life like that? By God's grace and power, I no longer practice my addictions, but does that make me sane?
Is there anyone that is sane that I can compare my life to? Well, there may be others, but the only person I know for sure that is sane is Jesus. And, when I compare my life with His, I come up wanting... So, does this mean that God hasn't restored me to sanity, as I hoped for?
I don't think sanity is like a light switch that's either on or off, but more like a light control that God turns (with our cooperation) from darkness to more and more light. When I look at it that way, I can honestly say that God is restoring me to sanity, and this is greatly encouraging :-) But, unlike the light control on my wall, God's "light control" has no limit as to the brightness of light (sanity) that can be dialed up.
So, am I sane or not? Maybe that's the wrong question. Maybe a better question would be, "Am I continually allowing God to turn up the "light" of my sanity?" When I look at it that way, I see that it's really about my own choices. God isn't the limiting factor. He's cranking that "light control" up, giving me as much "light" as I will accept. It's me that that limits the "light" of God's sanity in my life, by my poor choices. And it's me that allows God to improve my saneness, as I choose to trust and obey Him.
Even when I don't have the power to trust and obey, somehow God makes it all possible, as I choose to trust and obey Him. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2Corinthians 4:6 ). "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:7 )
"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (Step 2)
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