We can all tend to wish our redemption was a once and done battle. If it was easy, we would never really understand the nature of the honest fight. Consequently, we would then not be of much help to others in the fight.
God works with us and walks with us. He is always interested in how we take the next steps.
Philippians 1:6 helps us to see that we are on a journey going somewhere. This gives us assurance that the day of “completion” will truly come. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
Keep in mind a few implications of this journey of sanctification. We have a destination to which we are heading, and that direction is heaven. In the same measure, repentance is not just one-stop shopping, it is a way of living life. The goal is for us to have a vision for this life-long process that will bring us to a glorious end.
There will always be something the vinedresser is pruning and refining. There will be more we need to learn and grow toward, as we abide in Him (John 15). Each day He is teaching us how to trust Him and love others in more effective practical ways.
We must keep in mind it is not how far we have gone nor how long it is taking, but the direction we are going. The rate of sanctification is different for everyone, and we cannot predict how each day is going to go.
Some of us may have a speedy trip from the moment we turn from our sin and turn to Christ. Our flagrant sinful life and its desires are gone. What a great miracle.
Some of us may be among the steadfast and steady learners. We learn truth, have more and more self-control, and serve others. We devote ourselves to prayer, worship, and giving of our time and money. We grow step-by-step following the Lord in obedient faith.
Some of us think we have inchworm faith. We are crawling on our bellies making slow painful progress. We praise God that we are inching along.
There are those of us who feel like we are in prison. We are despairing to ever escape. Psalm 88 maps on to how we feel. It is still faith facing in the right direction that declares, even if God does not answer our prayers, He is our only hope.
Some days our faith can be so distracted. We wander off allowing our hearts to be hooked by something that only holds a false promise. God is gracious to get our attention and turn us in the right direction. He will never leave us in the desert.
There are times when we get so angry or self-determined that we stomp off in rebellion. The grace of God intervenes and draws us back to our right minds.
We can be determined to manage the time, schedule, or techniques of our progressive sanctification. God is the one who manages the work, with His power, in His timing. As God’s people we learn someone else’s life story does not set the timetable of how God is working in us. The essential dynamic of the Christian life is an ongoing change process. It is a process that requires us to continually turn toward Him. It requires us to turn away from other voices, loves, and desires.
We turn from what comes naturally in the flesh and turn to faith, love, and the joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. This means that anyone who had been a victim at another’s hands must learn to find refuge in God. This is not a one-time event, but patient and continual renewal of heart and mind. We have all found that turning from shame, endless remembering, and self-protection is a slow process. It is a gradual movement toward learning that if people do horrible things against us, that the Lord is always good and always does good.
God begins His work in us, He continues that good work until it is completed. He has stacked His glory on the completion of that work.
Are you all that you could be? Are you growing toward completion, heightening the beauty of your Savior, each step of the way?