I recently spent some time around someone who used a lot of colorful language, but I didn’t really think anything about it. I tried to maintain a Christ-like attitude and make it through the experience with a positive attitude. The next day I got really mad about something small and inconsequential, but while I was mad, a ton of profane language started running through my mind! With my prior experience in the military before I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ, it seemed like my old lifestyle was somehow haunting me. I remembered telling myself after this episode that I did not feel very sanctified in the midst of my struggles and that God probably made a mistake calling me into the ministry. I didn’t feel like a very good minister or a godly person at all!
But the Lord seemed to remind me of something a few days later as I looked back and prayed about this mental battle. He reminded me that his love for us is unconditional—even when we are battling with the fleshly nature and the life we may have lived before becoming a Christian. The Bible even reveals God’s great love for all of us in Romans 5:8 (ESV), “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I realize that sin hinders our relationship with God, but I also know that Christ is interceding for every Christian because he knows the struggles we all have.
Ironically, the word sanctify does not necessarily mean a godly lifestyle or “Saint”—it means, “to set apart to a sacred purpose” according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. When you or I decide to set ourselves apart for Christ’s leadership and lordship in our lives we are sanctified! This means that we must set ourselves apart for Christ on a daily basis—or take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). Sanctification is a “process” that lasts a lifetime! When we ask Jesus Christ to be the Lord of our lives we are instantly sanctified, but every day we must decide whether we will set ourselves apart for Christ or not.
Even though we may struggle with thoughts or actions that are not Christ-like, we can rest assured that Christ understands our struggles and prays for our victory. As the writer of Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV) said, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Sanctification denotes our position in Christ—a relational position that opens wide the door to a special kind of grace that helps us in our times of need. I’m so glad!
TAKE A SEC: Do you have an interesting evangelism thought or outreach idea? Leave a comment at http://evangelismgroup.wordpress.com and share what has really worked for you in your community!
Marshall M. Windsor, D.Min.