Monday, December 10, 2007

A lifelong battle

In 1 Peter 1:14-16, the apostle Peter says,
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'
As many of us know, the word "holy" means to be "set apart." Sometimes we use the word "sanctified." There should be something radically different about a Christian's speech, attitude, and behavior that distinguishes him from the world and his life before Christ. But how does this happen? Although new believers are declared holy in Christ at the moment of salvation (positional sanctification), the process of becoming holy (progressive sanctification) is an ongoing process.

The pursuit of holiness is a daily battle. We can't forsake sin and become righteous simply by "letting go and letting God." We must put on all our spiritual armor and engage the enemy in the strength of the Lord. Jim Berg illustrates this wonderfully in his book Changed into His Image:
Sanctification is not a divine 'zap' that automatically makes the believer irreversibly holy. It is a lifelong battle that requires the saint to lay hold by faith of the victory that Christ has accomplished on the cross and actively enjoy that victory by living as though it is really true. The Christian's daily battle with sin is much like ancient Israel's conquest of the Promised Land. Over and again God told the people to possess the land because He had driven out the Canaanites from before them. Although God had won the victory, the Israelites had to cross the Jordan and fight the Canaanites in deadly battle. The Canaanites did not roll over and play dead or pack their bags and leave voluntarily just because Israel entered the land; they fought for their land. The Canaanites were naturally stronger than the Israelites, and the Israelites stood little chance against them in their own strength. But, believing God had given them victory, they entered and fought in the light of that certain victory. Similarly, Christ has already achieved our victory over sin. But sin does not disappear from us just because we are saved. It does not give up its territory without a fight. If we attempt to fight by ourselves, defeat is certain because sin is much stronger than we. But if we enter the conflict claiming Christ's victory and our part in it, sin and Satan must flee from us.
Our struggle against sin is indeed a vicious battle. May God give us the strength and determination to achieve the victory He made possible through His Son.

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