There isn’t a Christian alive who hasn’t known that frustration—and I have felt it more than most.
I believe that sanctification is not as intentional as we think. “The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back, no turning back” has never made me much better. It revealed my desire but simply wasn’t very beneficial in anything except my inability to do it. The intentional part of sanctification is to know one’s need and to run to Jesus. The “running to Jesus” in our need is the issue…not so much sanctification.
Holiness and sanctification are clearly biblical…but Romans 7 is my experience. I think our opinion of ourselves is far too high. (“You wouldn’t be so surprised by your own sin if you didn’t have such a high opinion of yourself.”) We really think that trying harder, making promises and working at it will make us sanctified. Would that it were so.
Key Life’s mission statement is: “Getting you and those you love Home with radical freedom, infectious joy and surprising faithfulness.”
The “surprising” part of faithfulness is the key.
I’m better than I was…but that has always surprised me. And I think God has only shown me that on those occasions when I was depressed about my inability to get better. Our sanctification is a very slow, incremental process that can hardly be perceived except when God thinks we need to see the process. And when we see it, it is almost always a surprise.
Do you know why? For me (and for you too), the issue is the relationship with One who loves me even if I’m never in the process. Sanctification is the side benefit of knowing God and being loved by him.
Paul’s comment that we are “constrained by the love of Christ” is instructive. And so is Spurgeon’s comment that when he thought God was a monster he “kicked against the goads,” but when he discovered how much God loved him, he couldn’t believe that he had “rebelled against him so.”
I’ve never met a Christian who didn’t want to be better—ever. But the way to get there isn’t “do-more, try-harder.” In fact, the reason we’re so bad is that we’ve been trying so hard to be good…rather than trusting and resting in God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.
It’s a fact. Our sin has already been covered on the cross: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Faithfulness is the response of a child who has been unconditionally loved. And it is always surprising.
The other way doesn’t work. I’ve been there, done that and have several T-shirts with “failure” written on the front.
Time to Draw Away
Read Romans 7 & Romans 8:35, 37-39
“I’m going to be obedient even if it kills me!” (And it usually does.) It’s something we’ve all thought. Instead of becoming more faithful and obedient, we hit a wall. Doing more and trying harder can only go so far for so long. So stop it. Bask in God’s unconditional love instead…and surprising faithfulness, obedience and growth will naturally follow.