Grappling with Sanctification

Thoughts on understanding sanctification as a saved sinner.

I was sitting on a sofa best described as peach in color, though I’ve never seen a peach that hue. The almost bare walls looked about as lonely as I felt. My computer screen offered the only light of that dreary day. Fingers poised, I searched for words but found more than I could organize into sentences or concepts.

Still new to salvation, and also new to adulthood with its responsibilities and unexpected monotony, it seemed to me God wanted more than I could give. He wanted faithfulness in things so little I counted them nothing. He called for fellowship while I could not, in all my trying, seem to find anyone to fellowship with.

There was a gap between what I was called to and what I was capable of.

A chasm between doing and being.

I saw a canyon between the new life God spoke of and the dull, often-hard-to-understand one He had me living.

Sitting there with nothing to do but ponder existence, meaning, and the point of it all, I remembered two big words: Dissonance. Sanctification.

So began a few-years-long process of processing the only way I know how- writing. I wrote what some might call a manuscript. A few friends have read it. I’m not sure if God intends to do anything else with it.

I wrote to grapple with God and learn from Him about this thing called “sanctification” and the “dissonance” that I perceived and New Testament writers described:

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” –Philippians 1:6

Sanctification is God's in us between the new life He gives us and the completion He guarantees.

We live in between the beginning and the fulfilling. Click To Tweet

It’s in this space which Christ knows so well that we’re charged:

“Live a life worthy of the calling” –Ephesians 4:1

Sarah Koontz is releasing a free online Bible study of this verse and the rest of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I was given a pre-release copy of Worthy of the Calling to read recently. It’s brief, taking only 10-15 minutes a day. Sarah’s straightforward insights are Biblical and memorable.

The part that has stuck with me most is about sanctification.

On Day 8 of the study, Sarah reflects on Ephesians 2:8-13, including these beloved verses:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

She describes sanctification as a dream home, a mansion we can’t afford on our own. But she points out that we do not need to approach this good dream as something we will endlessly work to attain (but never can!)

Instead, as Sarah describes, God stamps approved on the paperwork. He tells us His Son has already paid the price in full and that He has a job for us and that He’ll work in and through us. As a result, we can do what He has prepared for us to do in that mansion.

“God never makes requests of his children without also supplying the tools necessary for righteousness.”–Sarah Koontz

This is one of many helpful insights Sarah offers in Worthy of the Calling.

Simple but profound, I find myself remembering this illustration.

Living a life worthy while I am only worthy because of His righteousness has become less intimidating.

God continually supplies, and freely. He has the assignment, the tools, the qualifications. Sanctification is His work. My work is the blessed privilege of receiving as He gives and doing as He says.

We can live out a God-glorifying life in the quiet, unnoticed, and even the frustrating. All because He who began the good work is also He who will bring it to completion. And He has not for a moment of the in-between left us to do this worthy-living on our own.

In him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit…”Ephesians 2:22

I’m thankful that in all my grappling and searching, God is the one building- both me and you and all of wholly sanctified eternity.

For more encouragement and insight on this topic, I recommend Sarah Koontz’s new FREE study Worthy of the Calling. Click here for more info and to enter fun giveaways, too. You can start at any time!

<This review was written in exchange for a pre-release web copy of Worthy of the Calling.>

Giveaway for this week of the FREE study launch

Click Here to enter this week’s giveaway offered with the free study!

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8 Replies to “Grappling with Sanctification

  1. Good word, Bethany. Not only does Sarah’s study, Worthy of the Calling, sound in depth and powerful, your words here are also soul-stirring. This is my favorite line, “There was a gap between what I was called to and what I was capable of.” That is fresh insight and really made me reflect. Visiting from #FaithonFire. Blessings! Oh, and I visited and liked your Facebook page. Keep knowing Jesus more and making Him known!

  2. Bethany, I loved this —> Sanctification is His work. My work is the blessed privilege of receiving as He gives and doing as He says.

    Girl, that’s the truth we need to cling to! The sustenance we need for the journey.

    Who would have thought receiving a free gift would be so darn difficult, yet there is a vast difference between understanding our calling and walking worthy of our calling. We must grab hold of the hopeful truth that God has made us worthy, and then spend the rest of our lives reminding ourselves where our worthiness comes from.

    And just like you said: Living a life worthy while I am only worthy because of His righteousness has become less intimidating. AMEN!

    Thank you for helping me launch this new study. I am so grateful for your help and encouragement.

    1. Amen to that! Receiving is difficult, but I’m so appreciative He helps us, is gracious, and teaches us through His Word how to walk worthy. Thankful for how you bring all this out in your study : ) What a joy it has been to help with your launch!

  3. I feel like this is where I have been but haven’t known how to put words to it, yet I write to process too and found myself stumped. Writing through the junk has helped so much, and seeing that God doesn’t see my junk the way I see it, has helped to. The analogy here is priceless. I was nodding! I think I’d like to sit and learn with you and Sarah both!

    1. What a gift that he doesn’t see our junk the way we do, right? This was (is) years of processing in- so grace to you too as you write it out with Him, Meg! I really appreciated Sarah’s analogies- it was hard to choose one! I’d love that too : )

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