The Ease of Sanctification

The 4 Es in the sanctification (setting apart, making holy) process: expose, entrance, engage, and embrace.

Expose

Exposure: this is about grace. Exposure is grace. It hurts so I know it goes contrary to modern evangelicalism, but it’s a vital component to our story of redemption. While it’s humbling i must realize that “God gives grace to the humble.” God was us to come to the awareness that we have no help, no hope in ourselves. We do not just have a problem, we, in fact, are the problem in our total depravity. “My people have committed two evils, they have forsaken Me, the Spring of Living Water and dug for ourselves cisterns, broken cisterns that don’t hold water.” In other words, we are very thirsty but we are drinking sewage to quench that thirst. Jesus exposed the woman at the well to her immediate thirst, her relational thirst (all those husbands) and her deepest thirst (worship God in spirit and in truth). So for us, we need to be brought to such an existential reality. We are in need, we cannot meet our own need, we are weak. It takes grace to let us in on that. That awareness is spiritually discerned, it takes outside help. It takes grace, agift from God, because without that understanding we’re doomed. It starts the process of redemption. Grace is exposure; exposure is grace.

Entrance

And grace sets us up for receiving faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” There is no aid to our condition without knowing God, honoring Him as God and giving thanks to Him for what He does as God. Faith is worship. Worship is faith. The understanding that God is worthy is how I come to God, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6. The two are inseparable. I must have faith which means I must know something about God and rely on it. What must I know about God beyond all else? That God is worthy. It’s His glory from which we have fallen, which is primarily the belief that He’s not worthy…but I am. My faith, my worship, is either in me or in Him. This is the “assurance of things hope for, the conviction of things not seen.” All of Hebrews 11, in talking about what happened to these people of faith, is revealing why they moved into their worlds as they did. They believed in, relied upon, depended on the worth of God Himself. Through that faith, the righteousness of God is revealed (Romans 1:17), which is nothing more than the extensions of Who God is and what God has done. That faith, that foundation of God’s worth, allows me the courage to risk
entrance into my exposure, my deepening awareness that I am the problem and He and only He is the solution. Grace gives me faith, more of Jesus Himself. And this faith is the free gift from God. So grace is a gift which informs my faith, which is also a gift.

Engage

Now that I have faith, I get to engage not just my behavior, but the “wicked way,” “the way that seemed right” that got me to where I am. My direction of life was two-fold: self protective and self-exaltive. This is where i am demanding control over my own life because I have believed that God is not there for me (God is not YWHW), good to me (God is not Love), nor in control over me (God is not Sovereign). I’ve got to trust my own sinful strategies because God is not worth relying upon. He’s not worthy. That is faithlessness. It is my commitment to a direction of life that moves away from God, His glory, His Truth, and eventually God Himself, Romans 1:18-32. “Metanoia” is turning away from that direction, informed by faith (which is informed by grace), toward God, toward His worthiness, toward loving Him. It’s a movement. I repent of wrong directions, not just the behavior produced by them. While faith is free, this E is a killer. It costs everything: my whole life. That’s why it takes faith, I’m not going to do this directional exchange if I don’t believe God’s worth it. Dying to self (protective and exaltive) is my spiritual worship, Romans 12:1. Spiritual is the word “pneuma” and means movement (wind, aim, direction) and worship is where I attribute worth to God. It comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word “worthship.” So my faith, my worship, is both directional and relational. I “keep on presenting my body (being) as a living sacrifice” in the way I move, direct my life, how I live. And what’s great about this repentance is that it, too, is a gift from God. According to the Westminster Confession of Faith, repentance is “an evangelical grace,” it’s a gift of God. It’s not so much something we have to do, it’s something we get to do. So this is how I engage with faith in how I move into my world. Grace upon grace!

Embrace

When I practice this grace-drenched, faith-controlled, repentance-filled movement toward worshiping and loving God, it lets me in on the fact that God is using my sin, shame, sorrow, and struggles for His glory and my good. Jesus’ fingerprints are all over the pages of my story. It’s called “redemption.” “Walking in a manner worthy of the Lord” is synonymous with “walking by faith” and “walking in the Spirit.” “Manner” is not “mode,” it’s all about movement, not just behavior. It’s about living intentionally, teleologically, to worship and love God by faith. As I see more clearly how God has designed and defined me and I see that He is worthy of my obedience (my new direction in life), I will also see how valuable I am to Him, how much worth I also have living as a reflection of Trinitarian glory. When I get the glimpse of this profound and powerful redemption I can then, also by grace, embrace my story because I have been clearly embraced by the Author of my story.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.

Published by

Jim Pocta

Psychotherapist/Biblical Counselor in Dallas. I’m a follower of Jesus, husband to Linda, father to three wonderful sons, father-in-law to three incredible daughters-in-law, grandfather to three amazing grandsons and granddaughter, and an elder at New St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church.

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