By: Allie Joy Hudson
5 min. read
“O come, O come, Emmanuel / and ransom captive Israel.” This is such a striking line from my favorite Christmas carol. (I really like this version by MercyMe.) I love singing and reflecting on these beautiful, poignant words that capture so well our need for a Savior. We are slaves to our sin, and we need someone to set us free.
This Savior is Jesus. As Philippians 2 tells us, Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity and came to Earth humbly, as an infant, to one day be the sacrifice we needed to finally free us from sin, death, and separation from God. Jesus is our perfect Savior. He took our place, our punishment, and God’s wrath that we deserved.
As we celebrate Christmas Eve tonight, let’s reflect on Jesus, our faithful Messiah, full of undying love, matchless peace, and resounding grace. Jesus, our Emmanuel, is with us. He knows us, cares for us, and is actively freeing us from sin and making us more like Him. This process is sanctification. Let’s dive in a little deeper.
Making Us Holy
What does sanctification actually mean? Sanctification is the process by which Jesus makes us holy. It carries with it the thoughts of being set apart from the sinfulness of the world and of being set apart by God to be used for His specific purposes. Sanctification means that we are becoming more like Jesus.
This process takes our whole lives. When Jesus saves us, He sealed us with the Holy Spirit and gave us His righteous standing before God. But though we now belong to God, we still have a sin nature in us.
Sanctification looks like Jesus slowly chipping away at things in us that do not honor Him (check out this video for a powerful representation of this process) and calling out the good gifts that He has placed in us. Through the Holy Spirit in us, sanctification takes us as close as we can get to being holy and like Jesus in this life. It’s only when we are face to face with Jesus that we will be totally holy and free from sin.
Sanctification and Discipleship
The idea of sanctification is such a beautiful concept – Jesus making us more and more like Him. But, you might be asking, what does sanctification have to do with discipleship?
Well, I think sanctification looks a little different than the other elements of discipleship (exhortation, community, and awareness) that we have walked through over these past few weeks. The other aspects of discipleship that we have looked at have been means for us to practice discipleship well. As we exhort one another, live in community, and grow in awareness of the state of our heart, we are following Jesus’ command to be and to make disciples.
Sanctification, on the other hand, is a bit different. Rather than being a way for us to live out discipleship, sanctification is one of the major goals of discipleship. If we are discipling each other well, we will grow in holiness. We will become more like Jesus. Also, instead of a more community-based approach, discipleship really hones in on our individual relationship with Jesus, the most important relationship we have.
As we grow closer to Christ, He makes us more like Himself. He makes us more like the people He created us to be, the truest version of ourselves.
Sanctification and Sex
When we live by the Spirit and are connected with Jesus, this process of sanctification in us will flourish. It is not easy, though; in fact, sanctification often hurts as Jesus gently shows us the ways we so often fall short. But we need it. We need Him, especially as we strive to live lives of sexual integrity.
As Jesus continues to set us apart and make us holy, He will clear out things that hinder us, keep us distracted from Him, and make us less effective for His Kingdom. One of the biggest hindrances that He targets is lust.
Lust is so far from God’s design for sex, and so, it’s far from His best for us. It teaches us to view others as objects instead of as people who matter to Jesus. And, sexual pleasure out of the proper context can become an addiction that steals our time, bodies, minds, and hearts.
As the Lord sanctifies us, He will teach us how to see others as human again. How to rewire our brains to desire what is truly good. To use our time and our bodies in healthy ways. To dwell on what is pure and lovely, and to take every thought captive. And to let our sexuality be something that honors Him. God made us as sexual beings, and He wants us to live this out in a way that is good. As we become more like Him, He will show us how to do this.
He is With Us
Jesus truly does know what is best for us, and He longs for us to know this and to know Him. As we surrender to Him, He will weed sexual addiction out of our hearts. He died so we no longer have to live as slaves to this, or any, sin. If we ask Him, Jesus will give us the means and the strength to resist temptation. And He, our Emmanuel, will be with us along the way.
He wants us to grow to know Him more, and He is so faithful to continue to work in us even when we fail. He is making us holy, into the men and women He created us to be. As we grow as disciples of Jesus alongside other people, He will shape, grow, and use us.
Take some time this Christmas to praise Jesus for who He is and to thank Him for coming to save us, to reunite us with Himself, and to be with us.
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Allie Joy Hudson is first and foremost a daughter of the King. She has worked with Proven Men for two and a half years and serves as the Content Manager. Allie graduated from Liberty University with a B.A. in English and minors in Spanish and Psychology. She completed her Senior Honors Thesis on the presentation of postmodern sexuality in short fiction. She enjoys reading, writing, playing the viola, running, singing, and photography. Allie is passionate about her ever-growing C.S. Lewis collection, cultivating relationships, and proclaiming truth in the twisted arena of postmodern sexuality. Allie lives in Pennsylvania and is overjoyed to be married to the love of her life.