This post originally appeared on my blog August 25, 2010.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.—2 Corinthians 3:18
Sanctification. Big word. Basically, it means that we are in the process of becoming holy—becoming more like Jesus. When we are justified from our sins we are also sanctified and look forward to being glorified. But there is a process here in our individual lives. It’s a struggle that starts the day we are born (born again) into the Christian life and continues until the day we draw our last breath in these bodies and come face-to-face with Jesus.
If we are serious about growing in Christ then we know that calling the process a “struggle” is an understatement at times. Though Jesus promises freedom, abundant life, and true joy, that dying remnant of our sin nature clings fast to us and seeks to keep us enslaved in the mire and muck of a broken life and fleeting happiness. And often times we keep falling back into the sin. It’s like C.S. Lewis wrote in The Weight of Glory, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Simply put for the individual Christian, sanctification is slow. We don’t go to bed one night and wake up the next day perfectly holy. We see the revelation of what we are supposed to do in Scripture yet we often don’t instantly turn our lives. And many times we can read a passage again and again for five, ten, or even twenty years before it finally clicks and we get it. Maybe in a perfect world…but this is far from a perfect world…
Now if that is true for the individual, multiply it times one-hundred and you have a church.
Churches are a lot like people because churches are people (or at least a gathering of people). No church is perfect. No church gets everything right. Like the people who make up the churches, they do some things well and other things not so well. All churches are in need of sanctification; all churches are in need of change.
It’s a slow process of digging through the word, holding up Jesus as high and exalted, committing ourselves to prayer, and encouraging each other to do better while humbly thanking God for the things we do well. But if we are patient and by the grace of God work for it, we will see the fruits of sanctification.