In Revelation 21:5, Jesus says he is making all things new. While we look forward to the day when this work will be fully completed and revealed, his work is not completely behind the scenes.
The best place to look for God’s work of restoration today is in the hearts of believers. We, who were once dead in our sins and trespasses, are being made alive through Christ.
Now I became a christian at a fairly young age. Throughout my high school and college years I believed in God, I believed in the work of Jesus, and I believed that he alone was my salvation.
But there was something I got wrong for a long time – Although I believed that I was saved by grace through faith, I also believed that once I was saved, it was my responsibility to become a better person.
I wanted to be a good christian, I wanted to represent God’s kingdom well. And so, I focused a lot of time and energy on not sinning.
After a few years of this, I got pretty tired. I didn’t feel like I was getting better, I didn’t feel that close to the Lord, and I was starting to feel pretty guilty about the sin issues that kept happening, despite my best efforts.
And here is what I finally realized: my justification isn’t the only thing that comes by grace and through faith. Becoming a better citizen of heaven also comes the same way.
Look at the words of Galatians 3:2-3,
“Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
Paul calls it out – it was foolish of me to think I needed God to become saved, but not to become more like Him.
The reality is, we need God for both justification and sanctification. Now, those are two fancy words so I want to make sure I give you a good definition.
Justification is a legal term that reflects our standing with God. Jesus paid the full price for our sins, so when we put our faith in him we are completely justified and made right with God. This process only takes a moment. It is instant.
Sanctification, on the other hand, is a process that can take years and years. It is the process by which God makes us holy. It is the way He changes our behavior over time so that we become more like the citizens of Heaven we will be in eternity.
The best analogy I can think of is my house. It’s not a perfect analogy, but justification is like the day we bought our house. We signed the paperwork, handed over the check, received the keys and the house was ours. It was instant, it was a one time thing.
On the other hand – our house needed a lot of changes. Some things were broken that needed fixing, and other things simply were not our style. Sanctification, then, is like the work we have been doing ever since we became owners to transform our home into the place we want it to be.
The work on our house is ongoing and will frankly never end. New things will break, things must be cleaned, and I’m sure styles will change.
And in both instances, it’s worth pointing out, that our house really doesn’t have to do anything. Our family bought and paid for the house, and our family is the one making it new. All our house really needs to do is be present, and allow us to work.
In the same way, if we want to be justified and sanctified, it is really up to God and his work. All we need to do is be present, to abide in his presence, and allow Him to do the work.
But, what does it mean to abide? We will take a look at this in the next topic.