As we approach the idea of sanctification, I am reminded of a fabulous little book that should be read by every Christian, every year: My Heart-Christ's Home by Robert Boyd Munger. This little book takes only an hour or so to read and is generally found as a little booklet near the checkout of Christian bookstores. This little book has touched my heart in many ways, many times.
It is truly an excellent call to sanctification. Sanctification is not just a Christian word, it is part of God’s plan for your life! Paul writes:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7).
Sanctification is not like salvation where God does all of the work. We need to learn what it means to live like Christ, think about how our life compares to the commands of God, and chose what to do in the course of our life to live the life that God would intend for us. So what are the steps to kick-start our sanctification?
The Crucial First Step is Our Salvation
If we do not know God as Savior and Lord of our life, we are not in any position to either be sanctified or even to care about sanctification. If you are truly interested in living for Christ, that is probably the greatest evidence that you are re3ady to move onto the next step.
Know the Word
It is very difficult to obey the commands of Christ if you do not know what those commands are. Fellowship in church, community, etc is great, but it never replaces daily study and mediation on the Word of God. Matthew 7:21 tells us that it is those whom do the will of the Father that will enter Heaven. It is hard to do the will of Him if you do not know what the will of God is.
Munger’s little book is about looking at every little part of our life as if Jesus was there. He looked at the study of our life, that being our thoughts. Are we thinking of Godly and lovely, pure things? Paul reminds the Romans – Be transformed by the renewing of your minds. Munger looks at the dining room; what we feed on. He thinks about what drives us. Is it money, degrees, stocks, entertainment? Or do we truly try to put God at the center of the things that we do? Munger discusses several other rooms before getting to the Hall Closet, that little place where we leave God out and stuff the dirty things of our lives. It truly takes strength of examine our lives to this detail, but we must.
Clean Out the Closet
It is one tough thing to see what it is in the closet and compare that to the things of God. It is another all together to throw out the things that do not align with Him. We have sentimental value attached so some things that should go. Other items we just like, similar to someone that loves the beat of music but ignores the horrible words. It takes strength to clean out the closet, but we can. Just like Josiah purged Judah of the horrible idols (2 Chronicles 34:3-7), we can purge our lives of our idols.
Bring God into the Closet
It is not enough to just remove the idols out of the closet. We then need to fill it with God. This means that we no longer seek pleasure in the ways the Gentiles do. We no longer derive pleasure from things that deny God and we no longer want to give the Devil a foothold in our life. The best way to achieve this is to fill the dark closet with God as much as possible and continually walk through these steps. Jesus tells what happens when God does not fill out the empty places of our lives:
“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45)
Let us, as believers, seek to be sanctified. It is our great calling: to become more and more like Jesus. It is hard, and it takes living intentionally. But blessings tend to flow from lives that intentionally strive to live for Jesus by genuinely reflecting on our lives and presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him who bought us.