Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23).
Sanctification: Oswald Chambers:
Your entire spirit, entire soul, and entire body are to be preserved blameless. Until when? “Until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Listen! “Faithful is he who calls you, who will also do it” (v. 24). Do what? “Sanctifiy you wholly.”….The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not consist only in the forgiveness of sins, not by any means. The gospel does not end with the fact that God loved you with unmerited mercy and forgives you of your sins. That is only the beginning of it. But the full gospel of God is that He enables you to love others as He does. He permits you to live and walk and breathe and move in this natural body with the likeness of Jesus Christ. Oh, blessed be God!
If only a few people would enter into entire sanctification, who could measure the possibilities for the human race? (Chambers Oswald. Devotions for a Deeper Life. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI: 1986. January 28).
Sanctification: Michael Wells:
A new birth happens once, but conversions, or changes in thinking, occur throughout one’s life. One day I stopped thinking that Jesus was a man in history and began to think that He was a man that was alive today. It was a conversion in my thinking, one of many to come. The first choice we make is the choice to believe in Jesus as the Sacrifice for our sin, a choice preceded by our own failure and sin. The second choice will come by the same means, failure and sin; we must choose Him as our Way, our Truth, and our Life. Years and sometimes decades exist between the first and second choice. For many of us, these are the lost years, the wilderness years, or the dark nights of the soul. During these years two dynamics meet daily in a clash, leaving few unscathed; on the one hand is the strong desire to “pay back” Jesus for all that He did and has done; we feel this is primarily accomplished by “acting” like Jesus. This is, of course, exactly what it is, an act! Initially believers are convinced that we have retained some strength, hold some solution, and possess something at our disposal that will make us act like Jesus. There will be something hidden, a secret, so most of us do not really want Jesus invading every area of life, not when we can continue to believe in our way, our truth and our life and discreetly trust our idols, sedatives, victimization, bitterness, anger and passivity to resolve life’s daily issues and enable us to imitate Jesus. When things go well, we are confident and full of pride and glory. When things fall apart, we blame ourselves or others, leading to depression, frustration, and the wish for life to pass. The time between the two choices is a very mean time, for man was not created to imitate Jesus, but to be a vessel for the Living Jesus. As believers approach the second choice—The Choice—we are confounded by all of the other choices that are presented to us in the form of advice. If only there were more Scripture memory, quiet times, prolonged studies, witnessing, or stronger resolve, then we believers would be like Jesus. The tension of trusting self (a self that prefers its reign to the reign of Jesus in our life) for the provision to act like Jesus is absurd, and will eventually cause the believer to break in pieces. In the power of a self that has as its disposal all the old methods of performing and coping, we try to displace self. Think of the absurdity of self’s removing self; that actually keeps self actively alive. Man becomes a house divided and begins to fall apart.
The dichotomy of wanting to act like Jesus in the flesh and at the same time to have flesh despising the potential rule of Jesus creates a tremendous amount of guilt, which is said to be the undertaker’s best friend. However, guilt in the hand of God produces some wonderful results. We believers become weary of being and feeling guilty, and it is in this state that the enemy takes opportunity to whisper to us, in a voice that sounds like ours, “I cannot change. I cannot choose a better way. I am stuck!” … At this time, the fullness of time, we believers are ready for another conversion in the form of recognizing that it is not about imitating Jesus but participating in His Life, being attached to the Vine, and having exactly Jesus flowing through us. As the Holy Spirit brings the revelation, we do not hesitate or argue but embrace the fact. We are abiding, Christ is in us, and apart from Him believers can do nothing. Jesus is now accepted as life, and The Choice is made. (Wells, Michael, My Weakness for His Strength, Vol. I. Littleton, CO: Abiding Life Press, 2011, P. 69-71.)
Is Sanctification a Choice?
Is sanctification an option? Do we have a choice? I am more and more convinced that the process of sanctification is a choice we make to go on with Jesus into the deeper life. Many of us fear the process and make the choice to stay in the shallow waters, where it feels safer to just content ourselves with the fact that we are loved and we are forgiven. Our self-life remains in control, but Jesus loves us, and He doesn’t really mind. It is a state of immaturity, but for some, the thought of going through any trials or suffering which inevitably rise in the sanctification process (sanctification is the process of dying to the self-life, the life that is lived in the soul—the mind, will and emotional life—and living out from the Spirit—Jesus Christ’s life), causes us to shrink back. We don’t want to suffer. We want the warm fuzzy emotional feelings of Jesus, but we resist the part of discipleship that costs us something.
I can remember times in my life when I knew that Jesus was stretching out His hand and asking me, “Do you want to go on? Do you want to leave the safety of the shore and swim out into the deep with Me?” I remember vividly that the invitation was an invitation to swim out with Him until my feet no longer had the safety net of earth beneath them, and being held—buoyed—only by Him. I remember whispering “Yes.” I remember the nights lying in bed and Jesus asking me, “Am I enough?” The question probed deep and it hurt, for I thought He was enough, but as He presented the question, I realized that no, I had many idols, many “coping mechanisms” that I had developed over a lifetime to deal with life situations. They were familiar and comfortable. “No,” I answered, “You are not enough. But I want You to be!”
Thus began the journey. Making that choice was the single most important decision I ever made; the single most exquisite surrender—sweet, yet costly surrender. After fifteen years, I can say that I would not trade this surrendered life for anything. As Oswald Chambers says, “God does not have an end goal in mind; the process is the end.” Wherever I am in my process, is exactly where He has brought me and where He wants me and where he will uncover what needs to be uncovered, heal what needs to heal, put to death a part of self that needs to die, and moves me along the narrow path. This is indeed the narrow path spoken of in Scripture. It is the path wherein we are being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ, where we struggle with issues of faith, false belief systems, false definitions of God, self-pity, self-confidence, hidden pockets of pride and rebellion, apathy, anger, bitterness, impure thoughts, fear, jealousy, idols, self-loathing, unforgiveness, desire for acceptance and appreciation, desire to be known, and noticed. It is where we lose our kingdom, our reputation, our image and the real life of Jesus displaces those things with Himself. Every great saint has gone through the crucible of sanctification from the beginning of time.
Do you want to go on with Jesus? You can—it is what He wants more than anything for you, and He repeats more times than almost any other sentence in Scripture “Do not be afraid! I will not forsake you!”
Dive In to Sanctification!
Swim out into the deeper water; you will not drown!