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|
In our early years, the only God we knew was our parents. Ideally, parents are servants of God and are godly role models for their children. But, all too often, this is not the case. Many children are seriously abused, even by parents who are professed Christians. As children, we could not readily discern whether our parents were following God, or not, in the way they treated us. In fact, our parents were as gods to us, when we were very young.
As a result, many have grown up with a skewed view of God. But it didn't end there. As we became older, we've seen other professed Christians acting in ways that that just didn't seem right. They may have even been abusive toward us. With all this evil coming at us from role-models that have largely form our view of God, is it any wonder that so many have turned to gods other than the God of the Bible?
Many spend a lifetime searching for peace and joy in all the wrong places, because of a skewed view of the one and only God who can give them peace, joy, and a life of fulfillment -- the God of the Bible -- the God of true Christianity.
"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19 ). He says, "... I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5 ). "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13 ). "... and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20 ).
With a God like that, maybe it is time to make a disconnect between the behavior of our former (maybe even present) "role-models" and the character of the God of the Bible -- the God of the Universe. The character of this God is what defines the word 'Love'. Like the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:10-24 ), maybe it is time for us to come home to our loving Father who is waiting patiently to see us turn toward Him, so that He can run to us with arms open wide. He longs to envelop us in His love and to cover us with the robe of Christ's righteousness (1 John 1:9 ).
"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." (Isaiah 61:10-11 ).
"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (Step 2)
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)
"...he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he rewards them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6 )
For me, it is relatively easy to have faith in the word of God, as expressed in the Bible. I grew up with the Bible and believe that it's writings are inspired by God. But where it's harder to have faith is when the "rubber hits the road", so to speak. When life gets hard; when bad things happen; when my will is crossed; those are the times when faith becomes more of a challenge. Those are the times when my trust in God and His Holy Word is tested.
It is vital for me to diligently seek God. You see, if I have not been improving upon my "conscious contact with God" by regularly spending time in prayer, meditation, and Bible study, then my faith becomes weak in challenging times. But, If I have been spending quality time with God, then my faith is stronger. I'm much more likely to trust God when trouble comes. I'm much more likely to hear His promptings and to "die to self", choosing to follow His leading.
There is a lot of talk these days about relationship, and I need a saving relationship with God. But some of the talk of "relationship" in Christian circles tends to minimize the role of the Bible (particularly the Ten Commandments) and denies the existence of satan and his host of evil angels. Of course if there were no tempter, things would be different. But, since there is, it is difficult for me to always know which voice is speaking to me. It could be the voice of God, but it could also be the voice of evil telling me things that sound pleasing. Or, it could also be the voice of my own thoughts and feelings, based on my learning history. Because of this, it is VITAL for me to be grounded in the Word of God. The Bible is the only place I can be sure to find truth. Maybe that's why the apostle Paul said, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15 ).
Continuing in this kind of saving relationship with God is hard, because it involves choices that go against what I want to do or say, but God is faithful to give us what it takes to make good choices (1 Corinthians 10:13 ). And when we follow through, making those hard decisions to follow God's leading, it is our privilege to enter into the peace that only God can give. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7 ). And, in times of trouble, what could be better than that?
"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)
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