Sanctification is a Process (Hebrews 3:10-11)
“That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.' So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' “(Hebrews 3:10-11)
Part 3 of 4
One of the major problems the Israelites experienced was that their preconceived notions overruled their experience. God wanted them to trust Him. He proved Himself faithful year after year and yet the people were oblivious to it. They saw the works He did and instead of engaging in an intimate relationship with Him they ungratefully turned against God.
However, had they recognized even the smallest of things God did for them, their hearts would have become more sensitive to Him. They would have experienced Him as Moses did. Exodus reveals, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11). God willingly offered friendship to Moses and in return Moses walked and talked, face to face with the Lord. This is why Hebrews tells us that Moses was a faithful servant over the house of God (Hebrews 3:5). When Moses first saw the burning bush, he did not know who God was. But at the end of His life he walked and talked with Him as a friend.
It is important for us to move on in our relationship with the Lord. We need to be sensitive and open to His direction for our lives. We need to attentively listen and understand His will for us and then walk in it. We should not be like the Israelites; hard and insensitive to His mighty works, but we should be like Moses who grew in familiarity and understanding every day of his life.
This of course, is a process, but it has to start somewhere. The only place to start is Jesus. Paul told of this process when speaking about his encounter with Jesus in Acts. Christ sent him to the gentiles to “To open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18). The first step is having our eyes opened. We cannot progressively move on with the Lord unless we have realized who He is as both God and Savior. Secondly, when we see this, we must repent, which means to turn and go the opposite way. It means leaving the sin nature behind and being born again by the Spirit of God. Next we are translated into God’s kingdom. Colossians says “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13). He brings us out from under the authority and control of Satan’s Kingdom and places us into Jesus’ kingdom.
The next step is receiving the forgiveness of sins. Sadly this is where many people get hung up in this process. They either do not know they are forgiven and washed clean by the blood of Jesus or they cannot forgive themselves for their past. Like the Israelites, having this viewpoint will taint your perception of God and His loving acceptance of you. It will keep you immobile in life failing to move forward in intimacy with the Lord. Instead of being accepted on the basis of Jesus, you will keep yourself at a distance, never walking in the relationship that God desires to have with you.
However, once you understand that you are totally accepted and forgiven by God you can progress into the next stage which is a place among the sanctified. Sanctification is the process of becoming holy. Paul said the Holy Spirit is what sanctifies us, “God chose youto be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth” (II Thessalonians 2:13b). God looks at us as holy and righteous the moment we place our faith in Jesus to save us. But aligning our hearts and minds to God comes in stages. It happens as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth to us. Jesus told us “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). It is His job to speak God’s truths into our lives and bring understanding to our minds. But we have a part in this, it comes by relationship. It comes by walking and talking with the Lord just as Moses did. It comes by the Word of God. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
The last step, thankfully, takes a lifetime; it is a journey not a destination. But to start we must understand certain truths about God. We must remain sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and we must participate in the relationship. God’s major charge against the Israelites was “they have not perceived or recognized My ways and become progressively better and more experimentally and intimately acquainted with them. Accordingly, I swore in My wrath and indignation, They shall not enter into My rest.” (Hebrews 3:10-11 AMP). He was broken hearted that they never wanted to know Him. From the Israelites example we understand that we are called into intimacy with God. They were not able to enter into His rest, which means there still remains a rest for the people of God.
Tomorrow we look at Part 4: Entering into His Rest