The Cost of Sanctification
“May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely …” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
When we pray, asking God to sanctify us, are we prepared to measure up to what that really means? We take the word sanctification much too lightly. Are we prepared to pay the cost of sanctification? The cost will be a deep restriction of all our earthly concerns, and an extensive cultivation of all our godly concerns. Sanctification means to be intensely focused on God’s point of view. It means to secure and to keep all the strength of our body, soul, and spirit for God’s purpose alone. Are we really prepared for God to perform in us everything for which He separated us? And after He has done His work, are we then prepared to separate ourselves to God just as Jesus did? “For their sakes I sanctify Myself …” (John 17:19). The reason some of us have not entered into the experience of sanctification is that we have not realized the meaning of sanctification from God’s perspective. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the nature that controlled Him will control us. Are we really prepared for what that will cost? It will cost absolutely everything in us which is not of God.
Are we prepared to be caught up into the full meaning of Paul’s prayer in this verse? Are we prepared to say, “Lord, make me, a sinner saved by grace, as holy as You can”? Jesus prayed that we might be one with Him, just as He is one with the Father (see John 17:21–23). The resounding evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is the unmistakable family likeness to Jesus Christ, and the freedom from everything which is not like Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit’s work in us?
In the past, I've thought about sanctification in light of the chief sins: lying, cussing, cheating, etc. If I could keep from sinning, then I'd be holy. I would become who God created me to be. Today I see things much differently. Sanctification is not something that I do. It is something that God works in me. I have to ask for it, then yield. As He works this in my, I have to trust His work and then obey. That's not as simple as it sounds, yet it's a lot more simple than for me to work at becoming holy.
The cost will be a deep restriction of all our earthly concerns, and an extensive cultivation of all our godly concerns. Sanctification means to be intensely focused on God’s point of view.
Yesterday Mandy and I went to see End of the Spear. It's the story of the five missionaries who were murdered in the jungles of Ecuador in 1956. Among those missionaries was Jim Elliot and Nate Saint. This movie is about sanctification. It causes the viewer to ask why a group of people would risk their lives, why they would leave the comforts of America for the jungle, and why, after their husbands' deaths, would the wives return to the jungle with their children. In the movie we see Nate Saint's overwhelming urge to find the Waodani Indians before more of them were killed. These families seemed to have had in mind God's concerns over their own. One cannot muster this up. It comes over time, as God has His way in a person's life. The amazing thing is that these people had such joy. They never seemed to regret their choices. Two nights ago we watched the documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor. The story was not over in 1956. God has continued to bring transformation through the sacrificial love of these families.