By: Krista Steuber
You can’t serve God with a prideful heart. Love is not proud. (1 Corinthians 13:4) This lesson hit home when I allowed myself to be overruled by my circumstances. I went through a season this past year where I dealt with a lot of challenges and stress, and it was an inner battle of flesh vs. spirit. I’m saddened to say my flesh won a lot of the time, and the ugliness rose out. I was easily annoyed, impatient, selfish, offended, and self-righteous. Basically, the exact opposite of Jesus. I did a lot of self-reflection, and God showed me I was operating out of pride. My spirit was grieved. I had so much sorrow, and, honestly, I felt dejected. I didn’t want to be like that! I felt like a fake Christian who doesn’t practice what they preach. Who could see Jesus in me? No one!
Sanctification is hard. I shouldn’t be surprised by that or expect it to come easily. It is a process; a lifelong process where God works in us through our relationships with people. I had actually been praying for sanctification, and God surely answered my prayer. He had me wade through the awful and dark corners of my heart I didn’t realize were there, bringing the sin to light. It was a painful process, and I didn’t like what I saw in myself. But because I know God’s character, I completely trusted Him during the process, despite how I felt. He showed me what pride looked like in my life and that I tended to operate out of pride way more than I ever thought I did. My default had not been grace. I had a very short fuse during that time. Easily annoyed = pride. Easily offended = pride. Thinking my expectations were the only right way = pride.
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
John 17:17-19 NIV
But because God brought my sin to light, I was able to surrender it to Him, daily, and allow Him to work it out of me and replace it with more of Him. Sanctification does not feel good. It reveals all the ugly sin living in me. I would much rather run away from the situation or place blame elsewhere, but that won’t accomplish anything or help me grow and mature spiritually.
“Under the shadow of the cross, we admit that the greatest enemy we face is not difficulty from without, but the enemy of sin within.” -Paul Tripp
I spent a lot of time in tearful prayer and humble repentance. I wanted to get back on square one of spiritual poverty. (Matthew 5:3) I needed to return to the heart posture of humility, understanding that I deserve and am worthy of nothing. Everything God gives me is a gift of saving grace and mercy. I hated the sin in me. I wanted it out! I prayed Psalm 51:10 (NKJV): “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Later, I felt the answer, I am.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Psalm 32:5 NIV
It’s interesting that the longer I walk with God and follow Jesus, the more aware I am of my sinful, broken nature. Sanctification is a bumpy journey. As much as I would like it to be, it’s not an overnight process of waking up one day and operating differently. My head knowledge of God’s Word becomes heart knowledge when I walk it out. I have to abide, abide, abide, and allow the process to happen. I know I can come to God with all of my ugliness and failures and openly pour out to Him how I feel. He knows it all anyway. There is so much released when I do that. I can’t adequately describe the gratitude and love I feel for my Heavenly Father that He does not turn away from me, but embraces me when I seek forgiveness and come to Him in humility and repentance. He loves me despite me.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 NLT