“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, Who gives you His Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8
Have you ever heard anyone say, “Jesus became my Savior when I was a child, but I didn’t make Him my Lord until later?” Maybe you have even said this yourself. The problem with this statement is that it is impossible. Jesus is Lord, period. We don’t “make” Him our Lord. We do, however, surrender our lives to His lordship. When we make the choice to follow Him as Lord, He becomes our Savior. The Bible never separates salvation and lordship, so we must not either. Holiness does not happen overnight, however. Spiritual maturity is something that happens throughout the life of Christ’s disciples.
The fancy word for this process of becoming holy is sanctification. In layman’s terms, it means that as a believer we are continually being changed from the inside out. Obedience begins in the heart. We cannot “behave” our way to Christ-likeness. This is a work that only God’s Spirit can do. We can, however, choose to cooperate in this work. Transformation happens gradually, through the small decisions we make each day. Our minutes make up our days. Our days make up our weeks, months, and years. And our years make up our lifetimes.
At the most elementary and basic level, denying ourselves means obedience to God’s Word. It is aligning our lives with what the Bible says instead of picking and choosing which Scriptures we are comfortable living out. The call to follow Jesus is an invitation to obey, and there is tremendous blessing in that. Obedience isn’t a burden. It is a privilege. We must always remember to view obedience to God, not through the eyes of servants, but as dearly loved children whom the Creator of the Universe cherishes. Obedience is good. There is safety within the loving boundaries of His commands.
Holy Father, please help me to remember that Your commands are good, even when it is hard to obey. Continue to mature my faith and soften my heart to Your Spirit, so that I am transformed from the inside out. In Jesus’ name, amen.