In the book of Hebrews we find an apparent contradiction within four verses:
…we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb.10:10)
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Heb.10:14)
So we are sanctified and we are being sanctified. How can we be both? It’s not as hard to understand as it looks. It is done and we are growing in it.
Being united with the perfect Christ makes us perfect in God’s sight. Now God is making us into what he has already declared us to be. For example: a man becomes a father because his child is born, but he is growing every day to be a better father.
Each of us is dependent for our growth on other Christians. A single brick is of no use until it’s part of a building. Coming to church is not just about my needs but I must go to help and encourage others. I shouldn’t think only about what I can get out of church, but what I can give. We need to stir each other up to spirituality and good deeds.
God has designed our sanctification as a community project.
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb.3:12,13)
We need to watch out for each other and sympathise and encourage one another to better living. We can drift downstream towards the ocean of indifference, and it can be so slow we don’t notice. Others need to recognise the drift and rescue us.
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more at www.annmariethomas.me.uk