God sanctifies Christians by building us up in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God while also breaking down everything which is not Christ: our already crucified sinful/”soulish” nature. Multiple means of grace such as prayer, Bible study, worship, and fellowship develop our inner spiritual self in Christ. Only one means of grace consumes what arises of the sin nature: that is the Cross, and it is applied outwardly via the discipline of the Holy Spirit.
God disciplines His dear children through outer circumstances, opportunities to either deny self, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus, or to deny Christ, protect self, and complain/rebel against God. In His great wisdom and sovereignty, the Lord sends circumstances and people whom the sin nature calls “thorns” and “messengers of Satan;” He does this in hopes that we respond in accordance with the indwelling Spirit instead of react via the old sin nature so offended.
Our Father longs for us to recognize and appreciate His hand behind all situations and messengers He sends our way; He desires for us to delight all the more gladly in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in difficulties, and in persecutions, for when the false sinful self is weak, then our inner true self is strong in Christ (see 2Cor 12:7-10). Through the discipline of the Holy Spirit, we gain experiential knowledge that God IS good ALL the time, and rejoice in this!
Of course, it is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ that we are able to do this – that, in the heat of the moment, we are able to love and desire Him in Whom we are maturing more than we love and protect the sinful/”soulish” self which is wasting away!
Such bliss, freedom, and peace every blessed time that we pause and call on Jesus instead of react on our own!
May God remind us when we feel hard pressed and irritated that it is the old (already crucified!) sinful nature resisting grace, that we may rejoice in our true identity: union with the risen Lord! As we know our true identity in Christ, we love and bless the other members of His Body in accordance with His grand design (see 2Cor 4:6-12, 16-18; 5:17; Ro 12:3-8).
Endure hardship as discipline…. God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:7a, 10b-11
So very much love in Christ, your sister deanna
written March 11, 2015