“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am”
― John Newton
I find these words from John Newton so inspiring. His life was radically changed by God from slave-trader to minister and follower of God. This didn’t just happen instantly but was the result of transforming his life. God has made us his artwork, we are his masterpiece. This should be encouraging. But if you’re anything like me, it is easy to realise we are still a work in progress.
We become more like Jesus when the Holy Spirit is working in our lives. Sanctification is the name of this process. It is a process none of us will ever complete until Jesus returns and so we live with a struggle. It is difficult at times to make Godly choices. Paul writes of the tension we face when we fail to do what God desires, and instead do wrong. We should not deny this struggle, but nor should it make us feel discouraged. Does it matter what we do? Absolutely. The existence of this tension shows God is working in our lives and should lead us closer to him. If it does not, then it is a matter for real concern. This is how Sam Storms expresses it:
“If you are saved you will wrestle; you will struggle; there will an ongoing battle. It may be one in which you suffer setbacks and defeat, and you [may] find yourself in bondage to some particular addiction or enslaved to sinful habit, but you hate it. If you truly know Christ you’ll hate it, and you will struggle by the power of the Spirit to break free of it. If there’s no struggle, if there’s a total acquiescence … and there’s no conviction of sin and there’s no desire to be more like Christ, then I have some serious concerns about that person’s soul.”
– Sam Storms on sanctification on the Theology Unplugged podcast from The Credo House.