Without knowing what the future holds, we can safely say that there is one thing we will need for 2016: godliness. To stably and safely weather all of the we’re-not-in-heaven-yet things coming from this new year, we will need a high dose of christlikeness and, if you’re like me, an increase thereof. So, sanctification should be a dear friend as we turn a calendar year (and as we enter each day, for that matter).
Sanctification: God’s work of progressively conforming the Christian into christlikeness from the time of spiritual birth (regeneration) until we see Jesus (glorification), through the Spirit, our effort, the means of grace, and any number of circumstances. Sanctification is not the means of salvation, but the consequence of it.
But oftentimes, we can have a myopic, low view of sanctification. For example, it really only occurs when I sit down for my daily quiet time or during the Sunday sermon. Yet sanctification involves much more than that because God the Father is much more involved than that in the lives of believers.
Putting sanctification in its appropriately high place will position us for the kind of people we need to be for the new year. A high view of sanctification involves two ideas. First, it sees God as big, his love as involved, and his sovereignty as limitless. Second, with those things in mind, a high view of sanctification means we are more occupied by seeing God’s sanctifying work in our lives through struggle than we are irritated by the struggle; the particular means (e.g. difficult people, jobs, family, health trials) which he uses to sanctify us.
Similarly, a high view of sanctification involves these four tenets:
- God’s work in every Christian is to continually and progressively conform them into the image of Christ.
- God uses all sorts of circumstances (especially difficult ones) to accomplish our progressive formation into christlikeness.
- God is sovereign over all things; us, every detail of our lives, the lives of those around us, and everything else.
- Therefore, an accurate view of my life, as a Christian, involves seeing how, not if, God is using every circumstance—big and small, difficult and less difficult—to accomplish my sanctification.
With that, here are a few reasons to be armed with a high view of sanctification so as to position ourselves for a good 2016, no matter what the year is like: