There’s a tragic tendency for followers of Jesus to fall back into thinking that our sanctification (becoming more like Jesus) is all up to us. Evangelicals are great at defending the doctrine of justification, which means we are declared to have God’s righteousness by grace through faith alone in Jesus and his work on the cross. We understand that it’s not by our works that we are saved. Yet God’s work of salvation isn’t just limited to justification, God is also working in us to conform us to the likeness of His Son. I love what Romans 8:29-30 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” What these verses, along with a plethora of others show us that God is not passive in our sanctification. He is working. You may not feel it all the time, but God’s abundant power and grace is working in us…all the time.
I used to think that God saved me, and then the work of becoming like Jesus was all up to me, but I couldn’t be more wrong.
I used to think it was up to me to get rid of my sin, but Psalm 32:4,7, and 8 says, “For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer…You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance…I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” God is actively and passionately working in you to overcome your sin.
I used to think that if I didn’t pray, then I would be stuck in a spiritual rut, but Romans 8:26-27 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” God is actively praying God’s will for our lives.
Of course this doesn’t mean that we don’t sit by waiting for God to make us like Jesus. As God works, so do we, but we work in the standing of grace that we have in Jesus. Philippians 2:12-13 perfectly explains this: “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, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Whatever desire you have to become more like Jesus, God desires it more than you do. He is not a passive, hands-off God, waiting for you to do something. He is always working in your life. This morning, you may feel like it’s all up to you. It’s not. God is there working – actively, passionately, and tenaciously – in you, for His glory. That’s a good place to be.