We were talking this morning about the process of sanctification; becoming more like Christ. Paul speaks of us being changed from glory to glory, of being washed by the water of the Word, of us being renewed - several different ways of illustrating the sanctification process. From a pragmatic sense, sanctification takes a few steps:
1. I recognize that I have a problem area of sin (someone else generally points this out!).
2. I really believe that it is a problem that needs to be changed.
3. I begin the sanctification process by confession of that sin.
As the Spirit begins His work, I:
4. I feel remorse AFTER I commit the sin, confess it and ask for forgiveness from God and others.
5. I feel remorse WHILE I am committing the sin, confess it and ask for forgiveness from God and others.
6. I know when I am ABOUT to commit the sin, I still commit it and then confess it and ask for forgiveness from God and others.
7. I know when I am ABOUT to commit the sin, I still commit it "80%" of the time, but I do see victory "20%" of the time. I still confess it and ask for forgiveness from God and others.
8. As I continue to be sanctified, the percentage of time that I commit the sin goes down. I still have to confess it and ask for forgiveness from God and others.
9. I begin to obey naturally and find victory over the sin through the power and work of the Holy Spirit.
This is a simplification of a complex process! The reason I wrote this is because sometimes I feel guilty about my sin - that I am not more holy - which causes me to believe that I am never going to change (maybe my expectation of the pace of change is too great). I read in Colossians 1 and believe that I have been reconciled to God and am holy, blameless and without accusation before Him. However, sometimes my heart and my head don't match up. At these times, I need to focus on what God thinks of me; not what I think of me> I need to understand that, through His Spirit, He is helping me gradually change from who I was to who I am. Understanding this releases me from the guilt of my sin (that I know is from Satan).
In my areas of sin, it took me a long time to develop the sinful behaviors; it is going to take a long time to remove it's scars! Thank God for His patience, His Word and His Spirit.