Romans 14: 13-23; 1 Peter 4: 12-19
Are you a Christian? Did you know that this term only appears three times in the Bible, and identifies a follower of Christ? It was only used by those who were persecuting the believers and was a term of shame and scorn-like calling someone a thief (Acts 11: 26; 26:28; 1 Pet 4:16)! The point Peter makes in his epistle here is that it is noble to suffer for doing right. The term "Christian" eventually became our designation; we are never to be ashamed when we suffer, as it glorifies Christ! Thus, a real Christ will pursue Sanctification!
These passages are a call to grow in faith and continue in prayer and faithfulness. In that way, we can continue to be better used by our Lord. We are to remain firm in our stand of faith even when life is falling apart around us, and when we do not see hope or the light at the end of the tunnel. The call is to be encouraged and to stand firm. When we persevere in our faith, we allow God to use us even more where we are. Then, we learn and we grow further in Him, which helps us grow and be used more. This is circular. The more we endure, the more we grow. Then, the more we are used, the more we go through and so forth. This is the spiral of our faith-building that draws us higher in Him. When we are growing, we are ministering, too. As our faith grows, we are more likely to hear God's call, see the needs of others, and find opportunities to serve. Our faith development is not to be selfish, although the primary benefit is for ourselves, but we also are to see how it affects others. When we grow, then we inspire, encourage, and minister to others faster and better!
Sanctification is the growth we have and do, in Christ, in our trust and obedience. That He provides this is not saving action, it is a response action where we become more like Christ's character. True Sanctification (His Part) is surrendering ourselves entirely to the Holy Spirit, to have His way working in us. Consecration (our part) is being (Gal. 6:14) dedicated to God's service! A bold determination to be interested in only what God is interested in! Usually total surrender requires a crisis to unbalance our lives because we tend to be hardheaded and not yield to God's leading. God will bring us to the point that He requires of us and if we ignore His subtle nudges, be aware; He will use a more severe means to get our attention. So, what do we do? Well, it is simple, or so it seems, to rely on Christ absolutely first and foremost in your life. When Christ takes hold of your life, the course changes to match His will, or so it should. Our life is no longer our own for He is LORD. What this means is our will and desires must be put off and surrendered to Christ! And the biggest and best most fantastic journey will enfold in your life. I personally cannot imagine living any other way (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Luke 24:26; John 15; 17:2; Phil. 3:10; 1 Thess. 4:3; Heb. 2:10).
Sanctification is also the willingness to reduce yourself down to merely "ME" and hand it over to Christ? Are you determined enough to strip yourself of all that you are in the world, in your career, ministry, church, including what your friends think of you, and what you think of yourself? Are you willing and determined to hand over your true self, your simple naked self to God? Once you are, then He can begin to work greater in you and in others through you. Christ will immediately sanctify you completely, and your life will be free from being distracted from His character and precepts. To be determined and persistent toward glorifying God, Christ as our Lord (1 Thess. 5:23-24)! You can start by surrendering to Him in prayer (Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 1:6; 3:10), "Lord, show me what sanctification means for help me live as my life is yours." He will show you! Sanctification means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus puts in you it is Himself in us (2 Cor. 1:39).
- Sanctification is built by Faith and brings Maturity and Growth!
- We cannot be saved without God's supernatural intervention! God hates refers phony righteousness. There is a clear distinction between those who are in Christ, who follow His precepts and conform to and from His love, and those who are pretending to be in Him or do not conform to Him (Psalm 11:6; 73:18-19; Prov. 1:18, 31; 11:31).
- Blessed means fortunate, because what we will gain in eternity will out-weigh anything we experience (Luke 6:22-23). We are also fortunate because the presence and power of the Spirit and His glory rest on us!
- Surrender your pride and self-determination. This will help give you the desire to grow and mature in the faith, and recognize that Christianity is not a spectator sport.
- Discipleship is our response to His love, to be passionate and obedient to our Lord.
- We must be careful that our faith is developed from God's nature and not ours!
- Christ will meet us in our deepest need. The love that flows from us is not from us, but from God through His Spirit (1 Cor. 13). We cannot prove love; we can only respond and obey it. Love is not from our nature, but from the work of the Spirit within us. The response is to put Jesus first (John 15:12; 21:17; 2 Pet. 1:5-7; 3:9; 3 John: 7) and let Him work in our lives. Thus, God will bring us to people and situations we do not normally like so we may learn true love. Love is also disciplined, constant, and spontaneous.
- Trials build faith and character, allowing us to be better used to glorify God. Trials are not a personal attack against us; but, rather, they allow God to work in us in a deep way, to be of better use to Him for others.
- Faith helps us love! Love is that Christ died in our place. All this happened in God's timing (John 17:1; Acts: 2:23; Gal. 4:4); thus, we need to trust God in His timing and not ours.
- Once we fully realize that the love of Christ has been poured out in us, then we can identify ourselves in Him. We will be able to identify Christ's interests in others over against our own interests (John 15:3; Rom. 9:3; 1 Cor. 9:22).
- Our faith must not be guided by our desires or our needs. When we think we are important and special and others are not, we are of no use to Him. All we do is isolate ourselves. God calls us to be salt and light. Our goal is not to serve, but to be His child, to keep our eyes on Him, to keep our mind on Him,and that devotion will lead us to serve.Trials work in favor for us (Rom. 8:28) and not against us. They actually promote spiritual growth!
So what is our call in this? To be joyful, thankful, and glad! To honor and enjoy our inherence and love that we have received, so it overflows to others around us. Then, we can grow and endure through all things! Why? Because, we will face trials and sufferings, they are a part of this world and life. There is no escape from them. We can either learn to grow or withdraw and stagnate!
The key to dealing with suffering and setbacks is a willingness to be anxious for Christ-to seek Him, and to have a firm desire for Him so nothing else that the world offers even interests us! Also, do not see it as a personal attack; rather, see it as an opportunity to be better for His glory!
1. What frustrates you in life? How will the commitment to Sanctification help you not to be frustrated?
2. How would you describe Sanctification? Can you think of an illustration from your life?
3. What do you need to grow in faith and continue in prayer and faithfulness? What gets in your way?
4. How can you remain firm in your stand of faith even when life is falling apart around you?
5. How does seeing hope or the light at the end of the tunnel help you? Ho can you do this when it does not seem present?
6. What can you do to encourage others to stand firm in their faith development?
7. When we persevere in our faith, we allow God to use us even more where we are. How have you seen this so in your life and church? What can you do to make this more so?
8. What do you need to learn and grow further in Him?
9. The more we endure, the more we grow, the more we are used, the more we go through and so forth. How is faith and trials circular?
10. So what is our call in this Sanctification?
11. Are you determined enough to strip yourself of all that you are in the world, in your career, ministry, church, including what your friends think of you, and what you think of yourself?
12. What can you do to show our Lord what sanctification means to you? How will you go to Him for the help to live your life as His?
- The response of love is to put Jesus first. So, how can you do this?
14. We must be careful that our faith is developed from God's nature and not ours! So, how can you do this? When will you do this?
©1998, 2001, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org