The process of growth is complex and somewhat awkward. We mature and grow as we’re exposed to our failures and mistakes. We try something and it doesn’t work out. So we try again in a different way, but we don’t succeed or learn exactly how to do it right and things turn out jumbled and pieced together. It’s a series of attempts and failures; picking up pieces and putting them together in a different order, trying to make sense of how to do things right.
Many of us learn the hard way; we’re slow learners and don’t always take heed to the shaping forces around us. As kids we hear things like “don’t touch that, it’s hot!” but we feel the need to touch it any way and then realize… oh, it is hot! Others of us watch the people around us and take note, seemingly mature because we’ve adapted to the examples around us. Regardless of the way we learn, we are always in the process of being refined.
Recently I’ve been exposed to a number of ways in which I am learning and ultimately, being refined. My nature as a perfectionist deceives me into thinking that once I reach certain benchmarks, I will continue to move forward without looking back. However, this lacks a very crucial part of Christianity in which I am reminded of in this process. It’s called sanctification.
In the next couple of weeks through a series of blogs, I want to focus on the different means in which God refines us by sanctification, or more simply: through continuous growth in the character and holiness of Christ. In many ways, sanctification is training. It means we are going to have to learn things by training to strengthen foundations we already have.
I wanted to start the series of blogs with a challenge from Paul to this call of sanctification:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14-17
There are a few noteworthy things from this scripture. For one, we are called to continue in what we have learned and continue to believe so that we can grow in understanding. We are called to continue to be acquainted with the Word for understanding, which yields wisdom and faith. In addition, we see that the Word is of divine origin -breathed out by God, and therefore an authoritative means in our lives for sanctification. The Word acts to reconcile all things to Him through various means: by reproof, correction, training in righteousness, and acting to equip us for the works He calls us to. In other words, scripture is a means to sanctification if we allow it to take these roles in our lives.
My hope for this series of blogs is to uncover these means of sanctification in our lives, by allowing the Word to penetrate our hearts and minds. For me personally, I pray that I will allow the Word to teach me, rebuke me, correct me, and train me in the ways of righteousness so that I may be progressively sanctified to be more like Christ. And I pray that collectively, we might be the people that God is refining and using in this world to reconcile all things to Him. In the coming posts, we will look at each of these more specifically to understand what sanctification looks like as a continual ethic in our lives.