“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)
One of the greatest moments of my life was when I first discovered the reality of God’s Rest for the believer.
This occurred about 6 years after I first trusted Christ. This was that wonderful moment when I first experienced the joyful reality of Christ as my Sanctification.
In the summer of 1972, I was born again. And in the first few years that followed, I knew many wonderful moments walking with the Lord. And in serving Him in various ways.
But, the time came when things didn’t flow so easily anymore. When the Lord took me into deeper waters — where I could know Him more deeply. Where my life became more than God simply supplying my daily needs and helping me through problems.
In the course of that 6 years, I had reached a point of my Christian experience where I was almost spiritually paralyzed. I was crushed under the burden of rules gathered up from so many different sources — even good sources. None of which brought me any closer to the Lord; but only caused me to realize how much I fell short of His requirements.
Which is a miserable and fearful place to be.
Struggling with Sanctification
I am thinking of these things now because I just finished teaching on the Holy Spirit in our adult Sunday class at church. We chose a book to read and discuss for the summer that caused us all to think more about who the Holy Spirit is and what He does.
Something really hit me as I finished that study. It was the realization that most Christians do not understand the Rest that is theirs in Christ. Not just the rest from works when we are saved. But the rest from trying to earn God’s approval as believers.
This applies to the day-to-day struggle that most Christians go through in order to achieve their sanctification — sanctified meaning to be clean and right before God on a moment-by-moment basis.
Every Christian struggles with the desire to know if we are accepted by God at any given moment. Not that we are going to lose our salvation; but that He is happy with us. That He is pleased with us right now.
This word, Sanctification, is a really powerful word. It is a biblical word. And it is critical that we properly understand what it really means.
And what it doesn’t mean.
I would say that 99% of believers, born-again people, are messed up regarding the meaning of sanctification. In fact, whole denominations are messed up about the concept of Christian holiness.
This is a huge topic; so I will only focus on a small aspect of this. We can deal with more on this topic later.
Our Sanctification is a Person
In fact, Christ is our Sanctification. He is also our Wisdom, our Righteousness and our Redemption. To name only a few of the things He is.
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 1: 30,31)
It doesn’t matter how many times I say this; and I’ve said this many times in these posts. Because most Christians will read these words and walk away with the same thinking they had before.
Meaning they will not understand the rest that is theirs in Christ. Or they will reject it. Or they will think it is too good to be true. Or they will continue to believe that they can do the Christian life without this “Rest” stuff.
This is a great problem when teaching believers. A dedicated, hard-working Christian is the hardest one to bring to an understanding of his liberty in Christ. He just doesn’t see his need. Because he is content with his own strength. He is content with the results he achieves by the strength of his own dedication.
Why Christians Do Not Enter Into Rest
Please, allow me to say as plainly as I can, no one can live this Christian life. Your best is not good enough to please God in this life. It doesn’t even come close.
Once again, I am talking to born-again people here. Those who have the assurance of their salvation. This is about the spiritual fruit the Lord requires of us now that we know we belong to Him.
If you are living your life as a Christian gutting-it-out-for-God, you are missing the point.
This has to do with the life of Christ within us. Not our life for Christ. But His life in and through us. The difference here is in seeing who is doing the work.
The difference is in getting ourselves, and our best efforts, out of the way so that God can reveal Himself.
In other words, am I trusting God to do His work in me and through me? Am I trusting the Holy Spirit to do a spiritual and eternal work through me? — a work that will touch the world around me in ways I may not comprehend this side of Eternity.
And do I really believe that this is what the Holy Spirit will do? Or am I just not able to get my hands off of my own life? Because I think it is my responsibility to do God’s work.
OR, must I continue to do stuff just like all the other religious people of the world do? By doing my best work and then giving God the credit (for something I did not allow Him to actually do)?
Watch What Jesus Does
This is not about doing all kinds of good, humanitarian works for others so that they will see God. It is ALL about God revealing Himself supernaturally by His Spirit in me.
This is about something without method. Without strategy. Without measurement. It isn’t something you can hold in your hand and quantify. This isn’t about getting a group together to go out and do some work for the community, or for your neighbor, or for the church.
It is about a patient, watchful, anticipation that God is going to do a work that I may not actually see happening. I might see the outward results of His working. But again, I might not.
It’s like walking through the Mall or the city and just seeing what God will do. Not in the handing out of Bible tracts or cornering people with clever evangelistic tactics. Not by wearing a Christian T-Shirt or putting a Christian bumper-sticker on my car.
(Although those might be good things to do in some circumstances.)
It is realizing that God, by His indwelling, is working a work just by our being in the midst of other people. Because He dwells in us and will reveal Himself by His own power.
This can happen if we open our spiritual eyes and quiet the busy-ness of our working selves; and wait upon Him to show us what He will do. What the LORD will do.
This is not craziness. This is more real than all those who go seeking after some post-salvation experience. Or some Baptism of the Spirit. Or some ecstatic experience to make them feel closer to God. Something they can observe or measure to make themselves feel better about their sanctification.
People are leaving churches because the Lord’s presence is being ignored. Because all the activity, programs, lights, smoke, bells, whistles and attempts to make people feel good cannot replace the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst. And it takes more than talking about the Spirit to remedy that.
Our churches today lack a clear dependence on the Spirit of God — on Christ Himself — to do the work that needs to be done. The Eternal work that only He can do.
OK. This is now longer than I wanted to go tonight.
Please, think about it. This is actually earth-shaking stuff. It will bring a wonderful peace to your heart when it finally clicks.
“…To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” (Colossians 1:19-29)