We are called to a *process* as Christ-followers. I think we tend to miss this a lot. When we try so hard to obey the Lord and then “sploogie” in a choice made in an instant, do we get caught in self-condemning thoughts? Or do we shake it off, observe and correct, confess and repent?
Dontcha just love big theological words? Well here are a couple of $2 words … but they are important, so I want to try to explain what they mean, too.
God has already provided propitiation and justification in Christ. Those things are DONE, in Christ!
Ok, so what does that mean? 🙂
Propitiation – God’s wrath against sin was satisfied when it was poured out against His sinless Son. I did NOTHING to earn this blessing and I can do NOTHING to lose it. In Christ, God considers any wrath or condemnation that would have been poured out on me as already satisfied, done, finished when he dragged me to Himself and I embraced Jesus’ having gone to the cross for me.
Justification – More than just “not guilty,” God has now declared me righteous in Christ. It is HIS doing, not mine. Nothing I could ever do could cause me to “win” this declaration and nothing I could ever do could cause me to lose it. He has decided it would be for the pleasure of his will. (See Ephesians 2)
So here is the thing…I have to understand that when I have condemning thoughts toward myself, these thoughts aren’t at all in agreement with God’s thoughts toward me if I am in Christ! Every bit of condemnation, every tiny shred of wrath against sin was poured out and satisfied in Christ. If I feel condemned it is NOT FROM THE LORD! Romans 8:1 says there is NO condemnation for me if I am in Christ! I think the enemy loves it when I continue to wallow in condemnation as if Christ’s priceless gift wasn’t attributed to my account!
Propitiation and justification are things I can’t do at all on my own. I am hopeless apart from Christ. Apart from Christ, God’s wrath would be poured out on me for eternity.
That said, there is a huge difference between propitiation, justification and sanctification, another $2 word! :-). Sanctification is a process that I do get to participate in. Vines Expository Dictionary says that sanctification must be learned from God and and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly. Vines goes on to say: “…it cannot be transferred or imputed, it is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and of following the example of Christ, Matt. 11:29; John 13:15; Eph. 4:20; Phil. 2:5, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Rom. 8:13; Eph. 3:16.” (See this webpage.)
This description makes it clear…sanctification is a process. THIS is that to which I am called!
I participate, yes, but God knows that this is a process. He already did the once for all payment for all sin (the justification and the propitiation). Now, as one who loves him, I strive to pursue one step closer in the sanctification process.
He knows that I am frail and am only dust! He knows that this is a high calling, a high standard. He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight (see Ephesians 1). His calling me holy and choosing to do so from before the foundation of the earth is not dependent on whether I binge again, or if I (conversely) refuse to eat when he tells me to, or any behavior on my part.(This is justification mentioned earlier…)
Somehow, though, I think if I binge, that I fall under his wrath! I think I have “let God down,” or that “God is mad at me.” This isn’t true! Propitiation proves it! Justification seals it!
He does call me to hang in there in the process to which he has called. That IS obedience. When I stumble and even WANT to get back up and move forward again, this IS obedience.This is the sanctification process that will go on for the rest of my life.
So often the women I have spoken with on the Thin Within forums, in email, at groups I have spoken with…we have defined obedience in a way that the Lord doesn’t! We tend to think (or to act like we think) it is sinless perfection! So if I stray one bit, I think I have canceled everything out! THIS IS A LIE! It is from the Father of Lies! In fact, I will go a step farther and say that this is a vestige of our dieting days, too. In the day we dieted, we could “be good” all day long, stay within our points or calorie allotment, but if at 8pm we gave in to temptation (even if we were hungry) and had the hot fudge sundae or the third chicken enchilada we wiped out all the “good” that we had done in the day. We had to chalk it up as a “bad” day after all because all we knew was it was either/or, black or white. We got NO credit in our minds for having eaten so “frugally” the rest of the day.
This isn’t the way things work in God’s economy. God is after our hearts. We are being progressively sanctified. Every time we say no to our flesh, it is a part of that HUGE sanctification work! Every time we fail, it is just a bump in the continuum…we get back on track and continue where we left off. It does NOT wipe out all the”good.” Not at all, but the enemy sure wants us to think it does!
God wants our hearts and knows that as long as we are on earth, this is a process of giving ourselves more and more away to him. This is sanctification.
All that to say…girlfriends…we can’t be so all or nothing. Jesus gave his all on the cross…that is the only ALL we can grab on to. We can’t quit this thing (the “nothing” that keeps tempting us to throw in the towel)…it is the process of sanctification that we are called to. Let’s rejoice that He has called us and that we have agreed to go along, even if, at times, it seems like we are stepping forward 3 steps and back 2…We simply have to get over thinking perfection is what he insists on in us. Jesus is the only person who has ever been or ever will be perfect. God delights when we keep trying. That is obedience…that is sanctification…that is honoring to Him. It doesn’t mean we justify our sin. No. We must capture our runaway thoughts and make them captive and if we are sinning then we have to get over it and STOP it, but, and please hear this:
It is every bit as much a sin to condemn ourselves for our sin as it is to sin in the first place!
It is an offense against God to project to Him a condemning spirit when he poured out all wrath and condemnation on his precious son so you would never have to be condemned! Let’s not throw the precious gift of the perfect sinless Son of God back in the face of the Father!
Do we think we need to “atone” for our sins by putting ourselves down and beating ourselves up? Jesus atoned for any sins we could commit. Let’s continue to prevail on His grace, embrace it, praise His name for it and in faith, press on to know him more! He delights in this!