By Julian Wells
“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:20-22 ESV)
Sanctification is the primary work of the Holy Spirit as he gains greater control of our heart. But, as Paul tells us in Galatians 5, our flesh persistently and powerfully resists the Spirit’s work. So sanctification must not be a passive process on our part. It requires vigilance and discipline to cleanse ourselves not only by regular and prayerful washing with the Word (Ephesians 5:26) but by actively and intentionally weeding out those things from our lives which impede the Spirit’s work.
John the Baptist once said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 ESV) That should be the never-ending life goal of every Christian. Those familiar seven words are so easy to memorize, so potentially powerful in their impact, but so powerfully resisted by our fleshly inclinations. Fortunately for us, as John tells us a few verses later, we don’t fight that battle alone. “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” (John 3:34 ESV)
“Some Christians want enough of Christ to be identified with him but not enough to be seriously inconvenienced; they genuinely cling to basic Christian orthodoxy but do not want to engage in serious Bible study; they value moral probity, especially of the public sort, but do not engage in war against inner corruptions; they fret over the quality of the preacher’s sermon but do not worry much over the quality of their own prayer life. Such Christians are content with mediocrity.” – D.A. Carson, A Call To Spiritual Reformation