Are you growing, changing, clothing yourself with virtue, and becoming more like Christ?
"But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator" (Colossians 3:10, NIV).
Sanctification means "to be set apart". This is the process by which we grow, become holy, and are conformed into the image of Christ. God wants to delivers us from the power of sin. Paul uses various images to describe what happens. In Colossians Paul uses the idea of clothing ourselves in virtue – something we participate in. I also like how Paul describes this process in Philippians 2 where he says, "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:12, 13, NIV).
Hmm. Did you see anything that surprised you in that last passage? We work (not for salvation, but like working out a math problem), and yet it is God who is at work in us. Change appears to take place when there is a dynamic cooperation between the human (our choices) and the divine (God giving us supernatural ability). As we commit ourselves to God and to his purposes, he then empowers us with the strength to continue; to change. And so, I ask myself today, am I growing? Am I removing the old and putting on the new? I ask you the same question, are you growing, changing, clothing yourself with virtue, and becoming more like Christ? Transformation is the expected result of sanctification and I want to change! I want to wear the clothing of righteousness. Take a few minutes and reflect on this self-assessment tool (adapted from T.W. Hunt, The Mind of Christ):
- I am jealous and envious of others or I rejoice in the success of others.
- I feel revenge; desire to get even or I love, bless and pray for my enemies.
- I am angry at God or I love God, seek and worship Him.
- I am bitter, resentful, and hate my enemies or I am merciful, forgiving and a peacemaker.
- I have sexual lust or I have pure thoughts.
- I lust after power and position or I am satisfied and content.
- I am proud and boastful or I am humble, gentle and meek.
- I feel superior and/or inferior to others or I don't compare myself with others.
- I am selfish and self-seeking or I love selflessly and am ambitious for others.
- I am critical. I gossip and slander others or I respect, honor and encourage others.
- I have self-pity. I complain and blame others or I am joyful and take personal responsibility.
- I am self-reliant or I fully depend on God and recognize my need for others.
- I am lazy, procrastinate and am unreliable or I am disciplined, diligent and reliable.
- I am anxious, fearful, and worried or I have peace, faith and trust God.
- I am headstrong and need control or I am willing to yield to God and others.
- I am addicted to TV, internet, work or other vices or I use self-control and am devoted to prayer.
- I hunger for worldly pleasure and things or I hunger for God's will and His Word.
- I compromise, lack integrity, justify sin or I maintain integrity, am obedient and faithful.
- I lie and/or exaggerate or I am honest and uphold the truth.
- I strive for pleasure above everything or I love God and put Him first in my life.
- I put my needs and desires before others or I love and care for others as myself.
- I focus on and live for this temporal life or I am preparing for heaven and eternal life.
Partnering together with a longing to look like, live like, and lead like Jesus,
Michael B. Pawelke, DMin