By Elizabeth Prata
When we repent and come into reconciliation with Jesus, He sends the Holy Spirit into us and the Spirit begins the work of regenerating sanctification. Because we are born dead, spiritually empty and carnally minded, when the Spirit comes, He enlivens us and begins the work of shaping us like clay into the Lord’s likeness. Here are but two verses that remind us that He grows us sovereignly and perfectly:
“One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” (Acts 16:14)
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
The change is not instant. We go from one who is dead in the flesh to one who is bearing all the good fruit is that the Spirit nurtures in us (Galatians 5:22-26). Even the Apostle Paul battled flesh (Romans 7:15). But through constant submission, prayer, study of the word, and good works-bearing fruit, the Spirit leads us into good things, which will be completed on the day we are glorified in body at the rapture or upon our death. (Galatians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
But sometimes it is hard to detect if we can see this change in ourselves. In growth by degrees you don’t see it at first. On our first day of school when I see the little kindergarteners I’d worked with last year, I notice that they have sprung up like weeds! I notice it because I had not seen them for 8 weeks. But do I notice growth or change in them day in and day out during the school year? Not so much.
And that’s outward, physical growth. It is even harder to detect fruit-bearing, spiritual growth in myself.
The Bible says for us to “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2). So I do. I ponder heaven, and the Spirit and Jesus and the things He has told us in the Bible.
One day I was musing along in my mind and thought of the statue of the David I’d seen in Italy. It was a beautiful piece of work, so lifelike carved out of marble! ‘It will be gone someday,’ I thought, ‘As will all man-made art.’ I shook my head. But then another thought popped into my mind. “Hey! I can go over and see the REAL David!” My mind was no longer on earthly things but realized that a greater treasure was the resurrected, glorified and perfected David that the Lord had personally set as King of Israel! I laughed out loud. The real David, how about that! I began to get a glimmer of just how beautiful the Lord’s work is in us and that there will be many more things that will be stunningly beautiful that my brain can’t even conceive of but was just getting a tiny glimpse of. Slowly and surely the Holy Spirit does His work in us, praise God.
As we grow, we let go of earthly things and trust the fact that no matter how lovely the man-made things of earth are; like soaring bridges, stately buildings, beautiful art, the LORD is preparing a place for us that will be astoundingly beautiful, the foremost beauty of which are the glorified and redeemed people populating the place through the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ. And more than that, Christ Himself is the most beautiful of all!
RC Sproul used to talk of beauty from the Bible and especially how beautiful God is. He said,
Other texts also talk about God’s beauty. “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Ps. 27:4). In Psalm 29, David calls upon us to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. In both places, the Lord (or significant aspects of His character) are called “beautiful.”
We are being grown in HIS beauty!
Do you have a moment when you came across a growth marker in yourself when you realized that your response to a thought or a situation was a direct result of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit? Let’s celebrate the Spirit’s work!!