23 Pt. 4

“He restores my soul” Psm 23:3 NIV

   Salvation, as I understand it, is a process in three phases:

 1. Justification which is the salvation of the spirit, whereby we are made alive in Christ. “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Rom 8:10

2. Sanctification  which is  the salvation of the soul, whereby we are made perfect in Christ. “But you were washed, you were sanctified” I Cor. 6:11

3. Glorification which is the salvation of our bodies being translated from mortality to immortality. ” in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” I Cor. 15:52

      Psalm 23:3  speaks about the process of sanctification.“He restores my soul.”  The word “restores” means to turn back or to return. Jesus, the Lord, is in the process of returning our souls  to the state they were meant to exist in.  The foundation of this restoration is the path of righteousness. Sin has mucked up the condition of the soul. In order to be restored, the soul must return to righteousness. Now, we are completely powerless to get ourselves back there. Praise God that He is not so powerless. He knows the path of righteousness and can lead us on it. Our only job is to relax, follow, and let Him take care of everything along the path.

What do you think a restored soul looks like?

Accepted Not Accomplished

    I am convinced that certain pass times were invented by God for the sole purpose of helping to inspire men to speak truthfully to one another about life’s deeper matters. Fishing, for instance, is a good way to get me to talk about more than the weather.

     Not that I fish mind you. I tend to be a little dangerous with a rod and reel. But I like to watch; So when my brother-in-law and I walked up to the little pond behind the farm in Maine I knew we were in for a good conversation.

     As he fished we talked about a lot of things: dogs, kids, fish, jobs, family, all the stuff you have to get out of the way so that you can actually talk about what’s on the inside. Then we went deeper.

     When the bugs overwhelmed us we returned home and continued our conversation over a game of chess.  I knew I was going to lose as soon as I sacrificed my king’s right to castle.

      As more of my men tumbled into the dungeons of Cliff’s queen our conversation turned to things spiritual.

      Have you ever been in a conversation with a friend only to have the Holy Spirit hi-jack the thread in order to reveal His truth to everyone in the room? That’s what happened to Cliff and me. There we were between the death of pawns and rooks, discussing our personal walks with God, when suddenly Holy Spirit began to teach us both about how sanctification works.

     We were talking about things we were going through and how hard we were both trying in different areas of our Christianity when suddenly this word just  tumbled out between us.

 “Christianity is meant to be accepted not accomplished.”

     We both stopped, realizing that the words weren’t ours. I went for my notepad while we both kind of reeled in the shock of how God had just butted in with this thought.

    It’s true though isn’t it? We started our Christian lives simply by accepting Jesus’ atoning death. We have to finish it up the same way. We can no more sanctify ourselves than we could redeem ourselves. Sure we need to be obedient to what the Spirit tells us, but in the end it’s all His work…all His power that makes us perfect.

After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?Gal. 3:3

Passion: Disowning God

      It  astounds me how clueless I am about my own weakness! I like to think of myself as a strong Christian. I suppose I am. But my strength comes from a reliance upon Christ not anything inside of me. I have live long enough in this skin as a Christian to know that left to my own devices I am a chief among sinners surely capable of almost anything.

     We all like to think we are basically good with a little vein of evil running through. Honestly it’s just the opposite. Peter found this out in a big way.

     On the night Jesus was betrayed he told his disciples “Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. ” John 13:33

     Peter I am sure was anxious to prove he was not the betrayer Jesus had spoken of short moments before. So he spoke up. “But why can’t I come now, Lord? I’m ready to die for you.” John 13:37

     Jesus must have sighed deeply wishing what Peter said was the truth. But prophetic insight had already shown him otherwise.

     Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” John 13:39

     Of course Jesus was right. He always is. Satan had desired to sift Peter as wheat and Peter’s pride in his own abilities was giving the fallen angel an open door. A few hours later Peter was denying Christ just as Jesus had foretold… just as Peter had thought impossible.

      Peter’s denial gives us an insight into our own lives. We are as human as Peter and we don’t have the benefit of walking in the physical presence of Christ for three years. Without a constant reliance on the Spirit of God we too will deny the Christ we have vowed to serve.

    So what hope do we have? Are we destined to constantly disown God? No! But the victory will never lie in our own feeble attempts to work up consistent righteousness in our own strength. The answer to a consistent walk is found in the blood of Christ shed on the cross! Jesus died to give us forgiveness and eternal life. But he also died to give us a holy life. The truth is the same blood that purchases our forgiveness and eternal life also changes our behavior.

    Paul the apostle wrote“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ” I Cor. 6:11

     The blood of Jesus sanctifies us ! ” Sanctifies” is just a churchy term for being made holy and righteous.

     So how does the blood of Jesus sanctify us? The same way it saves us, by grace through faith. How did you access salvation? By praying. So it is with sanctification. Ask God for it and ask and ask and ask until it comes to pass.

     Our hearts are born deceitfully wicked. But God takes what was and makes it into something new. We cannot remake ourselves. We can only let him in to remake us in the image of the son. Peter had to learn that the seeds of his salvation were not within him. So do we.

How successful have your attempts at holiness been? Have you noticed a difference since you started trusting Jesus?