Perhaps you have heard the statement, “Jesus loves you just as you are, but He loves you too much to allow you to stay that way.”
It’s true. God loves us unconditionally, and He doesn’t love us more or less based on if we are currently growing or backsliding. But He does call us to grow in Him.
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…—1 Thessalonians 4:3
Sometimes I’m afraid we give the idea that sanctification is the process of developing more or “higher” Christian standards.
Standards that are rooted in biblical principles are certainly part of how we live out the process of sanctification. But they aren’t the starting place…or the ending place.
So what are the ingredients for this biblical process of sanctification?
1. Gospel Motivation
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.—2 Corinthians 5:14–15
This isn’t about us trying harder to white-knuckle our way with stronger discipline and higher standards. It is about us knowing Jesus and being compelled by His love.
God calls us to grow in our knowledge of Him and in His grace.
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.—2 Peter 3:18
Grace is the inner disposition of God in our hearts, and it motivates us to “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
2. Holy Spirit Conviction
We’re not left to ourselves to figure out in what areas we need to grow. This isn’t a process of trying to copy other Christians or measure up to random expectations.
The Holy Spirit who indwells us (Ephesians 1:12) works in our hearts. He convicts us and shows us where we’re wrong when we grieve Him.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.—Ephesians 4:30
Sometimes He does this in my life as I read His Word, sometimes through preaching, sometimes in a moment when I am displeasing Him.
When the Holy Spirit convicts us, we can respond, or we can quench His voice.
Quench not the Spirit.—1 Thessalonians 5:19
We grow in grace as we respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
3. Biblical Application
The Bible is God’s gift to us for this process, and it is central to it.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:—2 Timothy 3:16
- Doctrine teaches us what is right. The Bible gives clear direction on what is right and wrong. If we want to believe and walk in truth, we must spend time in God’s Word. One of the outflows of that will be developing personal standards based on biblical convictions from God’s Word.
- Reproof points out where we are wrong. The Holy Spirit often uses His Word to convict us of sin and point out where we are grieving Him.
- Correction leads us how to get right. God’s Word does more than just condemn wrongdoing; it shows us how we can gain restored fellowship with God and begin living a purified life.
- Instruction teaches us how to go forward on the right path. Through His Word, God nurtures and cultivates His likeness in our lives (2 Peter 1:4).
Do you want to grow in sanctification this year?
You need motivation, conviction, and application.
Let the love of Christ in the gospel motivate you. Respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Increase your personal application of God’s Word.