“So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.” Ezekiel 33:31
As a young Christian, I used to think that that the solitary goal of sanctification was to perfect the external life of a Christian. But over time I have come to realize that the process of increasing in outwardly noticeable character is not the main benefit to be gained in God’s work of making His child holy and set apart. Rather, the greater work God does through the sanctification process is bringing a believer into a greater understanding of his/her imperfections and thus perfecting the inward life of the Christian.
The sad fact is this, our human nature becomes more and more prideful with each accomplishment we achieve. That pride then makes it difficult, if not impossible, to be sanctified. As our verse today states, a person who does not have a heart set on God, instead has a heart is set on its own gain. But, in contrast, when the realization of a depleted nature sits before a believer the truth cannot be ignored. Pride has no hold on a heart that is set on God. There is no pull strong enough to pull it off track. The reality is, God’s work of perfection in the life of a believer is to perfect us through humility. Because, in seeing ourselves and our true nature, that of a sinner, is where sanctification has its perfect work.
Being a good Christian does not mean you do everything right, nor even live a life that is close to that mark. Instead, being a good Christian means realizing that God does everything right and you on your own never can accomplish that undertaking. The more and more we try to be perfect, the less and less we can be perfected. Yet, the more and more we humble ourselves and seek God’s divine mercy and grace for our imperfections and allow Him to work through our inabilities, the more He can perfect us.
This was the same battle the Pharisees who Jesus accused of being white washed on the outside but filthy on the inside struggled with. If we only desire to please the world with how “Christian” we are on the outside then we can never be sanctified into a Christian; a true follower of Christ. It is only when we desire to please God, therefore admitting the imperfections He so gently and lovingly reveals to us as we walk with Him each day, accepting the grace He offers us through the work Jesus did on the cross, and living a life dependent Him alone, that we are truly made holy and set apart.