By Pastor Pete Smith
August 24, 2023

Late night television is notorious for “infomercials.”  The first ones involved the sale of soap, giving rise to the term “soap opera.”  More famous ones include Snuggie, ShamWoW, the George Foreman Grill or Slap Chop.  But why would anyone watch an extra long commercial?  Well, advertisers know that a promise of results without effort sells.  Looking straight into the camera, fast talking salesmen confidently assert that you can lose weight, make money and have a happier life without ever leaving the comfort of your couch.  Who doesn’t want that?

Marketing spin doctors may make millions from these claims, but an all gain with no pain way of life for the Christian is a fallacy.  The hymn is accurate that begins, “Jesus paid it all,” when it continues, “all to Him I owe.”  A life changed by Christ requires a changed life.  Between being made alive in Christ and entering into eternal life is a process known as sanctification.  To be “sanctified” is to be set apart for a special purpose.  In one sense that happened at the moment of salvation.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9–11)

Based on the work of Jesus you were washed, sanctified, and justified from your former way of life.  Your new life, however, is an ongoing exercise of increasing holiness (sanctification).  Gaining a new identity as a child of God guarantees your future while simultaneously marking a change in your life in the present.  There are no shortcuts.  You do not float above the fray to the finish line.  The Holy Spirit grows Christians in supernatural ways, but He does so through ordinary means.

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (Jn. 17:15–19)

When He prayed to the Father, Jesus explicitly requested that believers not be removed from a world filled with cruel, lawbreaking haters of God.  Instead, His appeal involved the Greek word for “sanctify” three times.  He asked that you would be sent into that offensive world as one set apart (sanctified) by the Word.  He noted that He was the example because He, Himself, was separate (sanctified) which makes it possible for you to be set apart (sanctified) in the same environment.

It is appropriate to pray for God’s protection and mercy, but do not forget that it is through your trial that He is sanctifying you.  It is in the process that you are “more than conquerors,” not in spite of it.

The devil can’t take away your salvation, but he’s got a polished presentation on “how to live a Christian life for the low, low price of filling a pew, reading some verses and offering an occasional prayer.”  But that’s not biblical Christianity.  Christian living is not a game of “difficulty dodgeball.”  It is not an exercise of avoiding hardships or acrobatically catching them to bypass the cost.  Jesus is sending you into a world where you will be tested and tried.  He is not sending you with the hope that you will calculate (and pray for) how to sidestep the challenges.

The faulty assumption of Job’s friends was that faithful believers do not experience hardship.  Do your prayers reveal that you give yourself the same counsel?  Are you incredulous when you’re faced with hard times?

Instead of prayers filled with “Lord, show me why,” go to Him with, “Lord, show me how.”  How to endure, how to grow, how to be grateful, how to be sanctified through the situation.  When life keeps you up at night don’t long for the promises of a biblical infomercial.  Choose to repeat the words of Job, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”

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