Redemption is a ‘now and not yet’ activity of God. When Christ came into my life, He saved me from the penalty of sin. I shall never face the wrath of God for sin because Jesus took my punishment for me. He is my substitute who suffered the separation from God that I deserve. I am now set apart for God as His child. This is called sanctification.
As I live in Him, He is also saving me from the power of sin. When I first became a Christian, I thought, said, and did things that I no longer do or want to do. The saving power of Christ is continually working in my heart to transform my life so it conforms to His life. God is remaking me into the image of His Son. This process is slow and often painful, but when I see Him, oh joy, I shall be like Him! (1 John 3:1-2). This process is also called sanctification.
That day when I see Him, I will be entirely free from sin. It will plague me no more. I will be holy as Christ is holy and my redemption will be complete.
This three-fold process is something like becoming a soldier. First, the person is drafted and becomes a member of the infantry. Second, they learn how to behave as the soldier they already are. Today’s Scripture is about that part of the process; becoming in this life what God has already made of me, a new creation. Sanctification is already done, but not yet . . .
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24)
Chambers asks his readers if we are prepared for what sanctification will cost? I’ve learned some of that cost. Being like Jesus means “an intense narrowing of all my interests on earth, and an immense broadening of all my interests in God.”
It means dropping my perspective of everything and concentrating on God’s point of view. Everything I am and have must be wholly dedicated for God’s purposes. It means saying with Jesus, “For their sakes I sanctify Myself” with a focus on the people of God, those already saved and those not yet translated from darkness into His kingdom of light. In other words, sanctification costs everything in me that is not of God.
I think it was Michelangelo who was asked how he created such grand sculptures of horses. He said that he simply cut away everything that was not like a horse. In sanctification, God cuts away everything that is not like Jesus. At first, He uses a large axe, then a smaller saw, and finally a small, sharp scalpel. Some of those hunks of life are easy to part with for they are obviously not good for me, but when the Divine Surgeon takes out His scalpel, there have been times when I have wanted to leave the operation and remain the way I am.
At the same time, the Spirit of God in me cries through my own lips, “Lord make me as holy as You can make a sinner saved by grace” and I hear the voice of Jesus praying that I might be one with Him as He is one with the Father. He not only desires a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, but that transformation is my destiny. Refusing to cooperate only delays that incredible and almost unbelievable result.