So what happens between the time we are born again and the time we leave this earth in death or the moment Jesus returns? This is no small question because this “time frame” can be decades of life! After we are saved and before we enter glory, what is God doing in our lives? What is God’s goal? What is He actively and aggressively and purposefully doing in each of us every moment of all of those years? Well, you probably already know. He is making us more and more like Jesus! On Sunday we reviewed Scriptures like: Romans 8:28-30, Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18; and 1 Thessalonians 4:38 where we find that God purpose in our lives is to actively make us more and more into the image of His Son. We call this progressive sanctification, which is the lifelong process where God is making us more like Jesus by empowering us to kill sin and grow in godly character. God has always desired a holy people to love Him and worship Him and obey His commands, rightly reflecting His image and character on the earth. But certainly sin has destroyed that. And so God sent His Son to destroy sin and to set men and women free from sins bondage through His death and resurrection. And yet, through the power of the gospel, though every believer is no longer held captive to sin (captive to the guilt and power of sin) we still deal with the presence of sin. In Galatians 5, Paul describes the reality of our Christian lives as a war. We are engaged in a war between our flesh, which is still tempted to and given to sin, and our Spirit that is now alive and desires to please God. And so Christians fight to put off sin by the power of the Holy Spirit and put on true holiness, bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Some days better than others, but the final result is promised to us because ultimately God is at work transforming us!
Most would agree that sanctification is a huge part of what the Christian life is all about, but at Redeemer we don’t want to just be passionate about sanctification, but passionate about grace-motivated sanctification. We talked about the need to describe the motive for sanctification because of the false and destructive motives like fear-motivated sanctification, self-motivated sanctification and socially-motivated sanctification. We described grace-motivated sanctification as: Obedience to God and growth in genuine holiness because of your love for Jesus, in genuine gratitude for the cross, and by faith in His power and promise to change you. You can listen to or download the sermon here to hear how this was unpacked. But we desire more than anything that our understanding of and growth in holiness (which is God’s will for each of us) be motivated by and empowered by grace. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep My commandments.” What a wonderful and succinct definition of grace-motivated obedience because this is obedience that places Jesus and our relationship with Him at the center. His constant grace, forgiveness, promises and power and also His fierce holiness and loving commands call us forward in fighting sin that destroys us and becoming more and more like Him.
How great it is to know that sanctification is a much a promise as a process. It is God who does the work as we work as well. He is completing the good work He has begun and He will transform us by His Spirit. He will also use many different things in your life, sometimes surprising and unexpected to accomplish this, but by grace, let us grow!
Questions for application:
1. Define progressive sanctification in your own words. Is sanctification primarily God’s work, our work or both? Why do you answer the way you do?
2. How do we become more like Jesus?
3. What is fear-motivated, self-motivated, and socially-motivated sanctification? What do each have in common? What are each missing? Why are all three so dangerous?
4. Why is John 14:15 a wonderful one sentence model for grace-motivated sanctification?
5. What role does faith play in our sanctification?
6. When Jesus is no longer at the center we go off track. How do you tend to go off track with regard to your motivation to grow (fear, self, social, etc.)? How can you seek to keep your relationship with, love for and desire to please Jesus at the forefront of your desire to grow?
Have a grace-filled week!