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Why Sanctification Is So Painful

Jul 15, 2008
Sanctification is an important topic in the Christian faith. It is the basis of much confusion among its adherents, often resulting in much internal angst. Misunderstanding in this area can even be an indication that an individual is not walking in the Christian faith.

Let us first examine how the sanctification process can be misunderstood, causing a level of anguish amongst Christians. One of the basic principles behind authentic, orthodox Christianity is that those saved by God will sin less and less over time. As they grow and mature in the faith they will dishonor God less and less with their thoughts, actions, and motives.

However, many practicing Christians are unable to step back and get the big picture of their life so that when they dishonor the living God by spurning his beauty and majesty they see it as though it were a sin of the exact same nature as before they were made alive by Christ. They can think that nothing has changed in their life and that this is an indication that they do not have the Spirit of God within them. These thoughts can be crippling.

They are especially prevalent among individuals who suffer from habitual, reoccurring, and socially rejected sins. Compulsive eating or over eating, depression, various forms of sexual sins - pornography, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and other sexual perversions - all of these leave an individual prone to feeling as though things are not or cannot get any better.

According to some Christian thought on the topic, this is a result of a combination of forces at work upon an individual in these circumstances. The first is their sin nature. This inborn quality, there as a result of the Fall, is set completely against the glory of God. It is unable to savor the savior or to kiss the king. This deadness is something that has to be fought relentlessly and tirelessly because it is always to trying to act upon men to sin.

Some ways that the sin nature corrupts us is to turn normally healthy and productive things into destructive and sinful things. That way even our innate physical desires to sleep, eat, or even have sex can be turned against us into desires to dishonor God's holy name. When this occurs even the chemistry of our brain works against the Christian's journey to God honoring delight in Jesus.

In these instances some Christians believe that the 'I' becomes one of the hardest opponents to overcome in the battle against sin.

Unfortunately, the self is not the only foe to be fought. According to historical Christianity there is also Satan and his cohort of fallen angels to deal with. These forces of evil are constantly bombarding God's elect with temptation and accusations in an effort to lead them astray and kill their joy. They want to cripple God's people into ineffectiveness in bringing the good news of Christ to the world.

When all three of these forces combine it can be very difficult to walk out the sanctification process in that area of life.

It can take years of hard work, deep dependence upon God and fellow believers, and helpful and practical methods to combat the chemical addiction we have in our brains. Many times Christians fail in consistently applying all these methods and so fall back into sin. This is the reason they can find the sanctification process bringing the intense internal conflict described earlier.

However, according the Christian doctrine, Christ is greater than our sins and no area of our life will escape his cleaning and loving hands. As a result it is important for all those seeking to live holy in Christ to cry out to him for his benefits and to turn to him for mercy day by day.
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