I want to know Jesus better, and I want to obey Him more consistently; this is the desire of the Christian. We all want to grow closer to the Lord, and we are all at varying levels in our relationship with Him. Each of us has different things that trip us up. What is tempting to one may be nothing to another. We are all growing, and we all grow at different paces. However, there is one thing that is true for everyone, and we may not even realize it, and it has to do with our sanctification.
The more sanctified you become, the more you realize how sanctified you aren’t.Todd Friel
I saw that quote on a friend’s Instagram, and it hit with where I’m at in my walk with the Lord. The closer to the Lord I become, the more I realize my shortcomings, little sins, and other things that I want to change. This may sound like a depressing thing, but it isn’t. Instead, I recognize it as the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in my life. The truth is, the closer to the Lord we come, the more our conscience will be bothered by “the little things.”
These “little things” don’t have to sin. Paul said that all things are permissible, but not all are beneficial (1 Cor. 10:23). The holiness of God and the holiness we are called to are central themes throughout the Bible. As R.C. Sproul said, God is holy, holy, holy; not love, love, love. Yes, Scripture says God is love; however, the angels around the throne center on His holiness. When we think about the holiness of God and the call to us to be holy, our conscience is stirred to call us out on the little things in our lives. At times God will use people to draw our attention to things we need to address, but it always begins with our conscience.
Our conscience is not something we should ignore, and when we do, there will always be some consequences. The call to holiness isn’t to ruin our fun or make us all seem like we were baptized in pickle juice. The call to holiness is for our good and is part of our sanctification process. The Christian life is a life of steady growth, stumbles, and more steps in the right direction.
The important thing is not to become discouraged when you sin. Instead, we need to repent and find out how the temptation led to sin, so we know how to stop it next time.
James 1:14-15 TLV “But each one is tempted when he is dragged away and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is full grown, it brings forth death.”
We stop sin at the point of temptation. However, if we continue to think about it, we will eventually act on it. This is why 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds. We are tearing down false arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah—” (TLV).
Our spiritual growth is a day-by-day thing. We will have good days and bad days. We only need to become concerned when we notice our desire to read the Bible and pray has begun to slip. There may be a day you are busy and forget, but that shouldn’t be the norm, and if any of us are going days or weeks without reading and studying, the alarm bells of our conscience should go off. Likewise, we should be concerned if our prayer life consists of only quick prayers while we’re driving.
When the Holy Spirit first convicted us of our sins, we repented and trusted Jesus for salvation. After that, every moment of conviction leads to deeper sanctification in our lives. Conviction is good and should be welcomed in our lives. However, we need to guard against the lie of feeling guilty is condemnation. That is not always the case; as a believer, we should feel guilty, bad, or any other word we want to use when we sin. We have violated God’s law, and that grieves Him, and His grief should grieve us.
As you walk this road of sanctification, keep your eyes on Jesus, the author, and finisher of your faith. Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising not the shame. The joy set before us is Jesus Himself and the hope of heaven. As Jesus endured the cross, so we endure temptation, have victories and upsets, all the while keeping our eyes on Him, knowing when we fall, He is there to pick us up, and when we sin, we can receive forgiveness after repentance.