We have a choice in our sanctification. Philippians 2:9-13 reads,
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
You see, we work out our salvation, we partner with God in a way. We choose God’s will over ours, we choose to obey Him, and we choose to pursue His kingdom and His righteousness. When we do that God will do the sanctifying, He will produce the fruit of the Spirit in us that we have been studying so much about. With Jesus as our focus, He will even make sure that we have nothing to worry about. Matthew 6:31-34 says,
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
We have a choice about whether we choose to be the new creation God made us when we were born again, or the old person before the Holy Spirit indwelled us. Ephesians 4:17-24 says it like this,
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Maybe you want to submit to God’s great work in you, but you don’t know how. It could be, you want to work out your salvation but that doesn’t make sense to you. Maybe you want to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, but you don’t really know what that means. Perhaps you want to put on the self, but you just need the steps. Well, it is primarily obedience, submitting to God and choosing His will for you. We will study ways to grow closer to God, practical things we can do. To know God’s will and know God, you have to read the Bible. The Bible is God’s will in the written word. It is an imperative and important part of your relationship with God.
God doesn’t want a religious relationship with you. What I mean by that is, He doesn’t want a legalistic relationship where you are following rules instead of enjoying Him. If you read this devotional regularly then you will have read this verse more than once. Hosea 6:6 says,
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
In The Message, Hosea 6:4-7 reads,
“What am I to do with you, Ephraim?
What do I make of you, Judah?
Your declarations of love last no longer
than morning mist and predawn dew.
That’s why I use prophets to shake you to attention,
why my words cut you to the quick:
To wake you up to my judgment
blazing like light.
I’m after love that lasts, not more religion.
I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.
You broke the covenant—just like Adam!
You broke faith with me—ungrateful wretches!
Sacrifices and offerings were how God had commanded Israel to worship Him. And He wants our worship, but worship without the Spirit is without love. Worship in which one just ritualistically sings some song, lights a candle, and eats bread and wine has no love, no real worship. There is no Spirit or soul in that. Worship that doesn’t know God, doesn’t seek to know Him more, cannot be worship because there is no truth in it. If you are singing a song to Jesus but don’t know who Jesus is, then are you just singing to sing? God doesn’t want your empty acts of worship, He wants you to know His steadfast love, He wants you to know Him. He wants you to enjoy worship in spirit and truth. Jesus said it this way in John 4:22-24,
You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
There are several disciplines we can practice, not as a ceremonial act but as an act of obedience to pursue God’s righteousness, sanctification. These disciplines will move us closer to God, help us know Him deeply, help us boldly walk in the Spirit, and worship Him with our whole being, to be a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1-2 reads,
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Over the next several days and maybe the next couple of weeks, we will look at various disciplines. Today, be encouraged to stay in the Word, to read the Bible every day. Any discipline we practice, should be based in the Bible. Most of them come naturally as a response to God’s love and we don’t need to be taught by anyone other than the Holy Spirit that it is something we should be doing. How can we follow Jesus if we do not know what He did, how He walked, what He is doing, and what is important to Him? Reading the Bible is more than important for us, it is vital to our faith. Romans 15:3-6 says,
For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 4:11-13 reads,
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.