The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.
Psalm 138:8 (King James Version)
I remember the day I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was so excited to be part of God’s family. However, the next day, when all the thrill died down, I asked myself, “What’s next?” Once we accept Jesus, what do we do; do we just sit where we are and wait for the coming of our Lord?
Those who think this way don’t have a clear understanding why Jesus saved us in the first place. While it’s true that when we believe that Jesus is Lord of our lives that we become saved from our sins with no strings attached, this is only the beginning. Even though we are saved, we still have a personality that has sinful habits and tendencies.
Continuing to live like a sinner, even while being saved prevents a Christian from truly experiencing the love of Christ. Therefore it’s essential to take the needed steps to eradicate our old sinful selves. Only then can we truly appreciate the benefits of being a child of God.
The process of removing our old self is called sanctification. Think of it as peeling off old skin that is rotted and burned in order to reveal the new skin underneath. Sanctification is a messy and painful procedure.
Sinful habits are hard to kill and won’t go down without a fight. The good news is that we aren’t alone in this struggle with our old selves. As it says in the verse from Psalm 138, the Lord God promises to be with us through the ordeal.
Why would God want to help us in our sanctification? God has invested so much into us (sending His Son to die for our sins for example) that He wants to make sure we succeed. Only when the old self is removed and the new self is revealed can we be productive in our work for God.
What is this new self that God wants us to be? The new self that we are striving to have is the very image of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. When God looks at us, He doesn’t want to see the old sinful person we once were; He absolutely detests it. Instead, He wants to see His Son in us, for only in Him is the Father well pleased.
Knowing that our Heavenly Father wants us to succeed in the sanctification process, let’s press on in removing the old sinful and rotted skin from off our bodies, so that the new skin that we have in Christ will be seen for all to see. Unlike the old skin which was dark and disgusting, our new skin will shine and attract others who are also tired of their old lives as well. Now, that we know that removing the old self is important to experiencing a fulfilling life in Christ, what are the tools that we need to begin this process?
The first tool is the Bible, when we read its words, study them intently, and then discern how to apply them to life, we begin the removal process. The next component is prayer, getting rid of sinful ways isn’t easy, but when we have a consistent communication with the Almighty, we are encouraged to persevere. The third tool is the church community, when you have tribe of believers, encouraging you in your sanctification, you are given the extra boost of energy needed to press on. Finally, I believe to most essential piece of equipment needed for sanctification is the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He is our coach and trainer and will direct us in the way in which we must take.
Being a Christian is a lifelong process. It is a long hard road that we must take, but the benefits are far worth the toil. Those benefits are not so much the final destination, but the process of getting there. Every situation we encounter is another step towards being more like our risen Lord. Therefore, let’s take joy in hardships, for in them we are made perfect.