What does the Word of God proclaim about the child of God? In this discussion how important is it to understand the three phases of our complete salvation when reading Scripture (see below)? How important is it to understand the differences, if any (see another "Something t Ponder #2), between the Old and New Covenants?
These phases are:
Past: Justified and regenerated.
This might help:
Sometimes I think it's a lot like perhaps some whom Jesus healed may have felt. Take a lame man He healed. He jumped up and was praising God and so thankful for his healing. But when he woke the next morning, he lay there in his bed, thinking about dragging himself onto the floor and into the other room and what a chore it was. Then he begins to remember the man who healed him the day before. He lays there wondering if it was a dream. He starts to timidly test his new legs, fearful they're going to give out on him. He may go through this for days, weeks, upon waking each morning. He's spent years without those legs and it takes some adjustment period to get over the stage of thinking they don't work anymore.
It's sometimes like that with those who are saved. They've spent their whole lives unsaved, that they get saved and have a hard time realizing it for a time. They recall what happened, but it seems like a dream. They still face each morning thinking of what they did the day before, of how they didn't "walk" right, and start thinking they didn't get healed. They see those who were healed acting differently without understanding the period they spent being sanctified, or learning to walk with new legs.
It's important to understand but it's something that takes time and as long as someone continues to renew their mind with the Word, it will eventually take root and then the three become more clear and one is better able to understand the justification and regeneration, and to work with the Spirit on their sanctification.
I'm surprised how many people think that God's purpose for their lives is that they would be unhappy and make everyone else that way too. Seems to me that the purpose for our lives is to glorify God. Hardly possible unless you are living out the character and purpose of Jesus.
Some think Jesus was a big bore of an ascetic. But that's not the record given us. It seems to me that Jesus was fun to be with and that he was always "up to something". He engaged people and did things. He was active, on a mission. I think he was fascinating.
If that was true of Jesus, does God want any less for us? I think God has a lot of things planned for us that we just simply don't live out because we are too busy entertaining ourselves, idling ourselves and ignoring God's work in our lives.
IMO one of greatest struggles for the child of God, and especially the newer ones, is that they did not expect, or were not taught the truth regarding, how tough the Christian life is. When we understand that it is hard we can then experience the joy in the midst of the struggle, for the struggle is not the abnormal, but the norm while we live in the fallen world, with fallen people, while in the fallen flesh and have an enemy that wars against us.
Therefore, to reword a bit, I think many enter into the new life with an errant expectation. It helps when we can remember that we are created for His pleasure rather than God exist to serve us (last part a bit overstated).
Amanda, I was just sharing that verse (Matt 16:20-25) with my son today, in our morning devotions. As I relayed to him some of the many blessings I have received by choosing to "lose" my life and follow Christ, I got lost in the thoughts and we were late heading out. But, he was prompted to pray for a renewed spirit of faith in following Jesus.
Motive is a good indicator.
As we become more Christ like, we should be sinning less and loving more. Not to show our Holiness to others so as to gloat with pride but to please and serve God.
We will continue to sin, but our reaction to that sin changes if we are Born Again. When we are indwelt with the Spirit we are shown our sin and ask for forgiveness and are forgiven, then we try to not commit that same sin again. In time the Spirit will help us repent and turn from that sin, something we can not do by ourselves. Our motive for doing so is to draw closer to God and please Him, not try to look good which would be selfish ambition.
As far as love, do we love expecting something in return? If we do, again it is out of selfish ambition. If we love others without expecting a reward we are loving our neighbor as we have been directed to do. If we love unconditionally, are love comes from the Spirit.
Sometimes I think we wish the sanctification process was quicker, or at least, had a tote board showing our progress so we could see the finish line. I know I do.
However, The process never ends while we are on this earth. I have noticed that the Spirit points out areas of my life that need work. I start working on them and no sooner start to make headway and BOOM, He shows me another area.
Example: Love. It took me a while to get to the point of not hating some people as I use to do. Just when I walked away from the hate...BOOM..the Spirit said thats not enough. Years later, I got to the point where I did love my former enemies and had forgiven them then....BOOM...thats not enough. Now I'm working on reaching out to them. I'm really not ready for the next...BOOM...lol
Example:Sin. I use to give to charity when I thought it made me feel good and I looked good. The Spirit showed me that it wasn't done out of love, but pride. Because I did it for the wrong reason it was sin. The Spirit showed me the sin and lack of love and I worked at doing it to please God and be a good steward of my money...BOOM...Then the Spirit pointed out that it wasn't my money....
The point is, when we are Born Again, the Spirit helps us see that Gods grace should flow through us and we start to pay attention to His direction as we continue to grow. We start to show grace to our neighbor and forgive them for sins against us while seeking forgiveness ourselves. We start to sin less or at least are aware of and repent of those sins.
I could go forever on this because I love the work the Spirit does in us. Sometimes I think we just need to sit down and reflect on where we were and how far we have come to appreciate the work of the Spirit. Just the thought of it sends chills down my spine.
Be still, and know that He is in us.
Just my thoughts.
Oops forgot. If we do things and make changes for ourselves so we appear better, it's probably not sanctification and could be part of false conversion. If done to please God and draw closer to Him, well, I would say your on the right tract. Loving because He loves us...spot on.
We are always being transformed. We just have to trust the holy Spirit and allow Him to do the work.
I have seen many Christians who are comfortable with there justification and not real interested in the sanctification process. They seem to like to be in a place where they can just do the minimum. Iv'e wondered if they have really put there trust in and given their life to Christ. I try to get them to see the that God want's us to grow in our faith not just hang out.
I would say that the fact that a Christian worries about the sanctification process tells me they are seeking and will grow. Someone who doesn't care about sanctification wouldn't worry about the process or if they are growing in Christ.
Seek and we will find.