September 06, 2016

Sanctification’s Long Road

Philippians 3:12-14

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

—  Philippians 3:12

My friend Ron had large appetites. Ron tended to overeat and to drink at dangerous levels, and that made him overweight. He also had strong sexual urges.

Ron was also in a “midlife crisis.” The sins of his youth were catching up with him. Ron was divorced, and he was filled with regret about it. He was single and alone. All of his massive intelligence, natural talent, and years of hard work were beginning to seem meaningless.

Ask anybody—loneliness is a desert.

But sanctification would change all that, right? Well, not instantly. Even after reclaiming his faith, Ron struggled with his aching miseries.

A lot of people think, “OK, I’ll go to church, and the music will pump me up. The sermon will recharge me.” So they go to church for three Sundays, read a few Bible passages, say a prayer, and then wonder, “Well, how come my life hasn’t changed?”

Sanctification happens when Jesus takes hold of you. He starts it. Then he keeps working on you, gradually, as you catch on and begin to press on, side by side with him. It’s not just the result of a few quick spurts of effort; it takes a lifetime of following his lead. Sanctification involves walking with Christ, dying to your old ways, and coming to full life in him. There is nothing quick and easy about it. It may not be quick, but the Spirit is with you.

Father, I can’t do this on my own. Take hold of me, and do this in my heart. Thank you. Amen.

About the author — Keith Mannes

Keith Mannes serves as pastor at Highland Christian Reformed Church in McBain, Michigan. Keith and his wife, Alicia, recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary,
and they are thankful for their three children—Eben, Charis, and Breanna.

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