I like the song, “I Surrender All.” We’d be more honest if we sang, “I surrender 70%,” but it makes a crummy song.
How kind of God to take us where we are and move us bit by bit to where we need to be. A year after we give it our all a patient Father shows us our mixed motives and manipulative words—and we surrender that.
God gives us the perfect score of Jesus at the get-go. Call it justification. He takes my sin and I take His righteousness. Quite an exchange! I stand in the righteousness of Christ before a holy God. Sanctification is the process of becoming what I am. I am going “from one degree of glory to another” through the sanctifying work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. God meets us at our point of need. He doesn’t leave us there.
Two things help to bring about this change: what we believe and what we behold. Believing I am righteous in my position allows me to become righteous in a practical, day-to-day sense. If I believe that I am a pile of junk and that God must be angry with me, I am believing a lie, and I stall the process.
Believing that the work on the cross was complete, that I can add nothing to it, and that God is doing a good work of making me more like His Son, that is what happens. Paul says, “Faithful is he who called you, and he will do it.” Some believe that God is doing a poor job. Not true.
The second change-agent is what I behold. As a young man I concentrated on not sinning, as if doing so would make me sin less. It actually gave sin power because of my focus. I eventually discovered that God wanted me to focus on the perfection of Christ rather than the imperfection of Paul. Big difference!
Christ–consciousness trumps self-consciousness. Paul writes that “we all with unveiled face beholding…the glory of the Lord are being changed into the same likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). It works.
This needs to be balanced with an honest assessment of our lives, so we don’t live in unreality. John writes, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8). Walking in the light does not mean walking in perfection; it means walking in vulnerability. That is why John follows with the well-known Scripture, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins…” (I John 1:9).
Christ-consciousness actually makes us more sensitive to our sin and more prepared to deal with it through confession rather than through punishing ourselves on the one hand or excusing ourselves on the other. The Spirit within never condemns, but He convicts, so we can confess and see it removed. We do as the writer of Hebrews tells us: “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (12:2). What a way to grow!