Faithlife
Faithlife

Being Our Best

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Last week I proposed that God desires for each of us to be the best we can be. Now, being the best we can be begins with a relationship with Jesus Christ. states that we were once spiritually dead, but in Christ we can be made alive – we can have new life - we call this regeneration. I mention that because obviously, if we’re spiritually dead we’re not living up to our potential, we’re not being the best we can be. We can be the greatest athlete, the greatest movie start, the greatest CEO, but without Christ, we’re not being our best. Being our best begins with a relationship with Christ.
I also mentioned that humans were made in the best image – God’s image. Of course, sin has damaged and corrupted that image, and so part of becoming our best is the restoration or the regeneration of God’s image in a person - which I think has to do with embracing God’s design that He has for each of us.
When I say God’s design, I’m talking about the entire package - this includes our design as physical, spiritual and conscious beings. It also it includes God’s will for our lives. When I say God’s design, I mean who we were designed to be and what we were designed to do. And so part of becoming our best is embracing our God-given design and then displaying that design through our character and our actions (which are both developed by our choices) - of course all that is wrapped up in a very personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Will being our best look the same for everyone? Am I suggesting that we all attain this high level of “bestness?” No at all. We must keep in mind our call and our context. As I mentioned previously, we’re all called to the same salvation, same faith, same holiness, same Christian conduct, however, the context will be different for each person. We have different experiences, different places in life etc.
For example, every Christian is called to godly stewardship. Doesn’t matter if you have $50 or $5,000 in your pocket - the call is the same - wise management of money according to biblical principles. The context, however, is different. One person has $50, the other has $5,000.
Sometimes embracing God’s design will be wonderful, and take some of us to those glorious mountain top moments, and sometimes embracing His design is not so wonderful, and it will take us to the darkest valleys - and for some, it will cost their very lives.
So, the call is the same - we are called to be the best we can be, but understand, our context will be different.
And just a word of caution - there is no room for arrogance or pride in the Christian! Being the best we can be must be done through humility, pure motives, and in submission to the Holy Spirit (see ). And understand, this is a life-long process. No one “arrives” in this life, but being our best is something I believe we should strive for.
I was talking to a friend this past week about this concept and he mentioned that life is like an escalator and it’s going the wrong way. So on this “escalator of life,” (you thought life was a highway - it’s not!) we have three basic choices. 1st choice) We can do what’s easy, go with the flow and ride the escalator down with everyone else - it doesn’t take a lot of effort to do that. For instance, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to be immoral.
2nd Choice) We can turn around and face the opposite direction, and with minimal effort, we can maintain our good position. We’re not going up, maybe a little, but we’re definitely not going down - we’re taking one step at a time but we’re really not going anywhere. At least we’re not like everyone else heading in the wrong direction.
3rd Choice) We can really fight against the grain - be different, live different and really put in the effort it takes to move upward, to move forward - and that is not easy.
(Got to say it like a black preacher)
Which do you think would be God’s choice for you? 1 \, 2 -- or 3 /?
Which do you think would be God’s choice for His church? 1 \, 2 -- or 3 /?
× Where would you place yourself on the escalator? 1 \, 2 -- or 3 /?
× What about this church? 1 \, 2 -- or 3 /?
I think number 3 is God’s choice. Oswald Chambers wrote this -
If f we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all efforts of worth and excellence are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but its difficulty does not make us faint and cave in - it stirs us up to overcome. Do we appreciate the miraculous salvation of Jesus Christ enough to be our utmost for His highest - our best for His glory?”
God calls us to be our best - and you know what that’s really called? It’s called sanctification. Holiness. Now put that in the back of your mind for now, it will come out later in the sermon.
Now, we know that sanctification has to do with the “spiritual life” - holiness is a “spiritual thing” for “spiritual people.” And that’s where we often leave it, and consequently, we’ve missed something very important about sanctification. Sanctification is not just a spiritual thing, because we’re not just spiritual people. We are also physical and conscious beings.
We are physical beings. Most of us have a body - right? If you don’t have a body raise your … that doesn’t work.
We are conscious beings (again, most of us) - we’re thinking, and rational, and emotional beings, we have personalities, cognitive skills, and we can make choices ….
And we’re also spiritual beings.
And all of those are connected. What happens in one area affects every area. What happens in your physical body affects your spiritual and conscious as well, and vice versa. It’s all connected, therefore sanctification - being the best we can be must be connected physically, consciously and spiritually as well.
See the Bible addresses the human bean as having a body, soul and spirit, and because we have body, soul and spirit, God desires that the total person be sanctified, be holy, be the best that they can be in body, soul and spirit.
Let’s look at . Understand that this is not the only verse in the Bible that mentions body, soul and spirit, but it’s one of the clearest.
. Understand that this is not the only verse in the Bible that mentions body, soul and spirit, but it’s one of the clearest.
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church in Thessalonica, and this is his closing prayer. He says -
1 Thessalonians 5:23–24 NIV
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
- May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through (or completely). May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
Let’s break this down, and hopefully come to the understanding that living our best or being the best we can be is really about the pursuit of holiness as a total person - physically, spiritually and consciously.
Let’s break this down, and hopefully come to the understanding that living our best or being the best we can be is really about the pursuit of holiness as a total person - physically, spiritually and consciously.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you …
Let’s begin with the term - to sanctify (ἁγιάζω, hagiazō). What does it mean that God sanctifies or makes holy? One of my commentaries put it this way -
“What is involved [in sanctification] can be illuminated by the usage of the term ‘sanctify’ in the Old Testament. The leading idea there was the setting apart of something for God’s exclusive use, separating it from ordinary human use in order to devote it to sacred purposes.”
For example, when the Israelites built the tabernacle - they made utensils, and a table, and a lampstand and other items - all used exclusively for worship of Yahweh. They were not to be used for everyday common events. Didn’t invite your buddies over to the Tabernacle for lunch to use the gold plates and bowls. You used common utensils for common purposes. The items in the tabernacle were sanctified - set apart for sacred purposes, and devoted entirely to Yahweh - not just once a week or on special holidays, but set apart 24/7.
And this is what Paul prayed for the Thessalonians, that they would be sanctified through and through, entirely set apart for sacred use; entirely devoted to God - not just on special occasions, not just on Sunday mornings, but set apart, entirely devoted to God every day.
And that is still the call today - to be entirely devoted to God.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 NIV
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;
John 17:17 NIV
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified …. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” It is God’s will that you and I be set apart exclusively and entirely for God.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified …. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” It is God’s will that you and I be set apart exclusively and entirely for God.
Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
It is God’s will that you and I be set apart exclusively and entirely for God.
It is God’s will that you and I be set apart exclusively and entirely for God.
I think
In some ways, we’ve made sanctification more about “walking on water” than simply walking where Jesus tells us to walk.
we’ve made sanctification more about “walking on water” than simply walking where Jesus tells us to walk.
A holy or sanctified life is more about a surrendered life and set apart life than anything else. This is why John Wesley said that sanctification, being entirely devoted to God is wrapped up in loving God with all our heart, soul and mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
So how does one become sanctified? What must we do?
Well, first, notice who does the sanctifying? It’s God. Sanctification, the act of being made holy (or being the best that we can be) is something done in the person. Sanctification is an inward work of grace accomplished by the Spirit of God - it is not accomplished by our works. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves holy - only God can do this work.
However, we play a part in our sanctification. God makes us holy, but we must respond in submission and obedience. For example, in
Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am Yahweh, who makes you holy.”
Exodus 31:12–13 NIV
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.
God sanctifies us; but, we have a part to play as well, and we call it consecration - or surrender. Remember, a sanctified life is a surrendered life. It’s not about “walking on water,” it’s about walking where Jesus tells us to walk. It’s where we lay our all upon God’s altar. We say to Him, “Here I am, all of me - take me and use - take my past, my present, my future.”
God sanctifies us; but, we have a part to play as well, and we call it consecration - or surrender. Remember, a sanctified life is a surrendered life. It’s not about “walking on water,” it’s about walking where Jesus tells us to walk. It’s where we lay our all upon God’s altar. We say to Him, “Here I am, all of me - take me and use - take my past, my present, my future.”
Now, where do we get consecration from Thessalonians 5:23? Notice that Paul refers to God as the God of peace. Understand, there is a connection between our peace with God and His sanctifying work in us.
In , we’re told that we now have peace with God through Jesus Christ, that we are no longer enemies. However, since the time of your salvation, have you ever been at odds with God - that something wasn’t right in the relationship? Perhaps the Spirit was convicting of a particular sin, or some disobedience, or lack of worship or whatever - and the relationship lacked peace. Something wasn’t right.
That’s because something was between you and God - and God desires an unhindered unobstructed relationship with us. He doesn’t want anything between Him and us. And you finally confessed or obeyed and there was peace again.
Peace with God comes from an honest relationship - I’m not holding anything back. I’m not trying to hide anything from God, I’m not reserving anything for myself. I think this is very similar to the way marriage was designed to be.
Adam and Eve were naked and felt no shame - they had no secrets. They literally bared all to each other. Susan and I made a decision to do that years ago … that in our relationship we would have no secrets. And we began to create an atmosphere and develop this trust with one another that we could share anything. And because we have done that, we have literally surrendered ourselves to one another (). And so no secrets has created a relationship that has peace (not the absence of turmoil, but the presence of peace and security in the relationship). The less we allow in between us, the more peace we have with one another and the stronger our relationship becomes. But true peace comes with a cost - it’s called total consecration or surrender.
How is that similar to sanctification? I think it’s the same principle - the less we allow between us and God, the more consecrated we are, the more set apart we are, the more sanctified, if you will, we become - for God and by God.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you - Now even though sanctification is a work done by God, we must be at peace with God. And peace with God comes from consecration - no holding anything back. Consecration is what we do - sanctification is what God does.
Let me close with this story, and if my sources are correct, it’s a true story. Ivan the Great was the tsar of Russia during the Fifteenth Century. He was set to marry the daughter of the King of Greece, with only one condition - Ivan had to become a member and baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church, which he agreed to.
So Ivan and 500 of his best soldiers traveled to Greece to take his bride. When the priests were about to baptize Ivan and his 500 soldiers, they hit a roadblock. The Church prohibited professional soldiers from being members; they would have to give up their commitment to bloodshed. They could not be killers and church members too.
So what do they do? They found a compromise: As the words were spoken and the priests began to baptize, each soldier reached to his side and withdrew his sword, and lifting it high overhead, every soldier was baptized by immersion - everything, that is, except his fighting arm and sword.
That is not total surrender. That is not total consecration. That is not giving one’s all to Christ. That’s holding something back. And consequently, that is not being the best we can be for God.
We will finish this verse later and talk more about sanctification of body, soul and spirit, but this morning, let me ask you, are you holding back from the Lord? Are you keeping something in reserve - spiritually, physically or mentally.
God desires for us to be set apart exclusively for Him - every day?
It begins with salvation - and continues with a continual surrender.
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