Today I was learning how to play another Colin Buchanan song – the one about big words that end in shun and every since then I’ve had the word ‘sanctification’ bouncing around my head. It’s a word that often gets ignored. But Peter uses it in his greeting:
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood.
Sanctifying work of the Spirit. In a few conversations that I’ve had with different people, we’ve talked about how God has taken us from one place to another – maybe it’s a big change, or maybe it’s a little one – but God has moved us from where we were to where we are.
That’s sanctification. There were a bunch of guys who used to think that in a sort of ‘second blessing’ God would sanctify us completely and we’d all of a sudden not sin anymore. Those guys were condemned as heretics. Why? Because we have sinful natures that cause us to not be made perfect until God makes everything new.
We are broken, but God has begun a work in us that he’ll bring to completion. Paul prayed for the church in Phillipi that God would continue that work, and I’m sure there is someone praying that for each of us. And that work is sanctification.
Bit by bit, God is shaping us and changing us – making us a little more like Christ. Each step means we know God more. It isn’t about earning our righteousness – because that comes from Jesus, but sanctification is about living closer to God, living in a way that points other people to him.
It’s change. Sometimes rapid, sometimes slow, but never ever small – because with God, everything matters. Even a small step.