Photo Above: Big Island, Hawaii. Photographer: Brocken Inaglory
“The person whose Bible is falling apart, usually is the person whose life is not.” Charles Spurgeon
Being transformed into the image of Christ is an integral part of the Christian faith. This is something the theologians like to call sanctification. Sanctification is where God the Holy Spirit initiates change in our lives and we respond in obedience. The key to sanctification starts with a faith in God and His gospel. Being convinced that Jesus rose from the dead to save your from your sins, that He loves you, won’t give up on you is key to responding to God’s work in our lives. Having hope and believing you are loved is transforming.
Sanctification is not primarily about works, but works are a byproduct of letting the Holy Spirit perform deep change in our heart, our mind, and soul. As the Holy Spirit moves in our lives we change inwardly and outwardly and produce spiritual fruit. We should be primarily moved by the love of God, but it is not unfit for the Christian to be also moved by the fear of the Lord.
The work of sanctification is not always easy, it is in fact a fight at times. The Apostle Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God. Jesus tells us to take up our cross daily, he tells us to lose our life (inwardly, our fleshly desires) that we may find life (Christ, righteousness through Christ, and eternal life).
In his book Doubting Allistair McGrath states “In the late fifteenth century, the Florentine Sculptor Agostino d’Antonio began work on a huge block of marble, with a view to producing a spectacular sculpture. After a few attempts to make something out of it, he gave it up as worthless. The block of marble-now badly disfigured-lay idle for forty years. Then Michelangelo took an interest in it. He saw beyond the ugly disfigured block of marble to the magnificent artistic creation he knew he could achieve with it. As a result, he began work. The final status-the celebrated David-is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding artistic achievements of all time.”
In the same way Agostino d’Antonio gave up his attempt to produce a masterpiece, we can easily lose heart in letting the Holy Spirit work in us. Luckily we know that God is faithful even when we are faithless. We should be encouraged by the Apostle Paul’s words to the Roman church:
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
*Doubting (p.112, 113) Allistair McGrath