Friday, May 6, 2016

I Know God’s Will for Your Life



A seminary professor told his class, “I know God’s will for your life.”  What a bold claim!  But, it turns out he was right, and he proved it by quoting this one verse from God’s Holy Word:

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3, NIV).

What Sanctification Is

Paul was writing to Christians.  Once you have been born again and have your sins forgiven and have received the gift of eternal life in Christ, then God’s will for the rest of your life is for you to be sanctified.  What does “sanctification” mean?  Here are some ways to understand sanctification and some verses to meditate on:

Sanctification is the process of a Christian becoming more and more like Jesus. (Genesis 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:1-2, Philippians 2:5)

Sanctification involves getting rid of the gunk in our hearts, minds, and lives. (James 1:21, Ephesians 4:31, Romans 13:12-13, Colossians 3:5, Hebrews 12:1, 1 Peter 2:11)

Sanctification is the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:2)

Sanctification is God finishing the good work He began in you when He saved you. (Philippians 1:6, Philippians 2:13, 2 Corinthians 3:18)

There is one important way in which sanctification is different from justification. Justification is a fancy word to describe what happens when we first believe in Jesus and have our sins forgiven.  Justification is like a toggle light switch.  The light is either on or off, there is no in between. You are either saved or you are perishing, there is no middle ground (1 Corinthians 1:18). But sanctification is like a dimmer switch.  The light can get brighter and brighter:



I want to shine brighter in Christ, don’t you?

One Area of Special Struggle

Sanctification covers every area of our lives:  what we do, how we do it, where we go, what we look at, what we say and how we say it, how we use our money and our time, what we love, how we react, and what we desire and seek.  No wonder it’s a lifelong process!

The verse I began this post with focuses in on one particularly difficult part of sanctification:

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3, NIV).

God inspired the authors of the Bible to write a lot about sexual immorality, but not because He is prudish.  God speaks about sexual immorality so much because He knows it is an area where many of His children need a lot of help, healing, and encouragement.  This was true in Paul’s day, yet the struggle to be pure has been made even more difficult today by the filthy flood of pornography.

How widespread is the problem of pornography?  Very. I asked one godly young man, “When you were in High School, how many of your male classmates do you think were watching porn?”  His heartbreaking answer: “100%”.

Do I think that literally every single young man today is watching porn?  No, but I do think it is a pervasive problem which is doing immense damage to souls.  Lord willing, I will write more on this topic over time, but for now I want to end this post with some Biblical principles that can help us get free from all types of sin, including sexual immorality of any kind.

How to Fight and Win

To be sure, part of being sanctified is learning to “just say no”.  But if we only focus on resisting sinful desires, our battle will be more exhausting than necessary and will too often eventually lead to defeat.  We need to focus on desiring God and the things of God more than we desire sin (if you missed, see my previousblog post on this important principle). God gives us some powerful tools and weapons to overcome sin:

1.  His Word.  The more we read and think about and memorize and study the Bible, the more we will want what God wants us to want and the less we will feel the deceitful attractions of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

2.  Prayer.  Prayer is a mighty weapon that gives us strength and defeats the devil.

3.  Worship and Praise.  Spending time listening to and singing along with praise songs (whether they be well loved hymns or the newest praise song on the radio) changes our hearts and minds.

4.  Serving God.  Using our gifts and abilities for God’s work focuses our imaginations and energies on good pursuits.  There is some truth to the old saying, “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop”.

But sometimes we are trying to read the Bible and we are praying like crazy and we are trying to serve Him, but we just can’t seem to get free from some sin “that easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1).  There is one more important method God uses to help us which many Christians neglect . . .

Sometimes, God’s Help Comes through Other Christians

Jesus commands us to “Love one another” (John 13:34).  This includes encouraging one another and building each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Because God wants us to work together and be in relationships and act like godly brothers and sisters, sometimes God will not give us the help we need until we are willing to let Him help us through other Christians.

There are many ways that God helps us through other Christians:

* A Christian friend can listen, share, and pray with you.

* A small group can lift you up.  In the specific case of overcoming sexual immorality, it is important to have small groups for men and other small groups for women.

* You can set up accountability meetings or use accountability software like Covenant Eyes.

* Sometimes receiving counseling from a pastor or professional Christian counselor can be an important part of God’s work in your life.

Conclusion

God wants us to shine for Him! (Philippians 2:15)

We will shine more brightly as we move forward in sanctification, becoming less and less sinful and more and more like Jesus.

As we get rid of impurities in our lives, we will become more and more useful for God’s work. (2 Timothy 2:21)

So keep reading your Bible and praying and praising.  And be ready and willing to let God help you through other Christians.


 

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

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