Janet Smith ©gardenministries.org April 7, 2019
The sanctification process of the Holy Spirit is a long, arduous road. Perhaps that explains why so few find this road, and stay on it. To sanctify, means to set apart. It is a lonely time for those who would give God their all. The process feels lonely because our self-centered ways of relating to others are getting pruned and our roots of rejection pulled out. If we better understand what the process is achieving, we will better trust the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying fires.
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 13 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Why are believers set apart? The Holy Spirit’s sanctification process prepares us to see God. When we see God as He is, we are changed; we are healed.
Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Hebrew 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Malachi 4:2 But for you who [revere] My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.
The Greek term for sanctification is hagiasmos (https://biblehub.com/greek/38.htm). Hagiasmos involves a process of being made holy and set apart. For those who revere God’s Name, it’s a time of consecration and purification. If we are serious about getting prepared, we will respond to the Spirit-led opportunities to put down old ways of thinking and acting. We will walk out our consecration by daily presenting ourselves as living sacrifices to God, ready to obey what He says today.
Romans 6:19 …For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification [Greek: hagiasmos].
As we sink down into patience, our faith-filled choice to follow God’s Truth will lead us away from indulging empty cravings. This faith-and-patience zone can feel flat and empty, but if we stay with it in faith, and keep sinking down into patience, the fruit of God’s love within us will bud and bloom.
Endurance and consistency mark the disciplined life. Those who let God love them with correction will hold fast to the Word of Life. When we purpose to believe God’s love for us is real, His Truth enters our hearts and prunes away old fears and doubt. This uprooting and pruning process separates us out from our old selfish mindset and replaces it with heavenly-minded thinking.
How do we know if we’re making progress? If we see the fruits of the Holy Spirit increasing in our life, we know we are making progress in the sanctification process. Can we see the fruit? Can others see an increase of the Spirit’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in us? If not, we’re stuck and need help getting unstuck.
Many believers want the benefits of sanctification but refuse to undergo the process toward attaining it. That’s because the process means surrender, the cross, and death-to-Self. This process feels lonely. The false comfort of old familiar ways—broken and empty as they are—tempt us to stay unchanged. Our old patterns and rituals feel oddly comforting, albeit fleeting. Surrender to the often grueling process of being set apart is key to our preparation. Can we trust Jesus is our Good Shepherd and knows how and when to wield His rod and staff to comfort us?
Psalm 23 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
You are not alone. The Word promises to set the lonely in families. Our process can make us feel alone, but we are not. We are being set apart. Not only do believers in Jesus Christ have intimate access to our heavenly Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God has a human-born spiritual family for everyone of His children. Have we found them yet? If we have, are we afraid to serve and commit to them?
Psalm 68:6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
The Holy Comforter’s sanctifying work produces servant-hearted lovers of Christ. If we look for opportunities to tangibly serve our God-given family, we will hasten the process of sanctification. Whether people appreciate what we do for them or not, if we serve them as unto the Lord, we are changed by His love that flows through us. We love them not because they love us, but because He first loved us.
When we serve others at cost to ourselves—especially our God-given family—we are loving like He loves. Friendship with God is born out of a sacrificially loving heart. Greatness in God is always servant-hearted. If we will not sacrificially serve those whom Jesus has given us as family, how can the King of kings and Lord of lords include us in His close circle of friends?
John 15:12-14 This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.
The sanctification process leads to an end-game. This is the final stage where the few left in the race finish and receive what God has promised His overcomers—that is, His glory [1 Peter 5:1-4]. Will we stay with Him in the sanctification process and finish the race set before us?
1 Thessalonians 4 reveals a generation that will finish their race without physically dying. Will we be that generation eagerly awaiting Christ’s appearing? The rapid changes in Israel certainly validate an urgent need to, “Get ready.”
2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.