Can Sanctification Come After Addiction?
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2 NIV
Can Sanctification come after Addiction?
The simple answer is yes! You can know sanctification after addiction. You know that Jesus has delivered you from sin and darkness, but what does it mean to be sanctified? How does that happen? What does that mean?
First, let’s define sanctification. In the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology sanctification is defined simply as ‘to make holy.’ Another definition is to consecrate or dedicate something or someone or to set something apart for a specific purpose. With that basic definition in mind I need us to look to what Paul taught us in 2 Cor 5:17. He wrote that when Jesus delivers us from sin that the old is gone and that we are a ‘new person’ in Christ.
Now this is great news for the former addict because the old person you were before Christ is a person you never wish to see again. However, I believe to fully understand sanctification we need to see that becoming this new person in Christ as two distinct things. First, sanctification is what happens in a moment when Christ comes in and cleanses our hearts, we are taken from Satan’s grip and ‘set aside’ for God’s plans and purposes. This is an instantaneous change that is miraculous and displays the power of God over sin and death. However, there is a second thing we need to look at when it comes to sanctification. When we are delivered from sin, we are saved but we are also set on a path that is leading us to an ultimate destination… that destination is sanctification. When we are saved, we begin our journey to become what Chrsit desire us to become.
Being new in Christ is just the beginning for the believer. Look at it as your starting point, as you have been forgiven of your sins and redeemed from your dark past, but it is only the start of a great journey. For the recovering addict seeking to gain back that which they have lost, salvation brings this new starting point. In Rom 12:1-2, Paul shares how believers can begin that journey to move forward toward that ultimate destination.
In v.1 Paul calls believers to give themselves as a sacrifice to the Lord. This phrase shares that our very life must be a ‘living’ sacrifice for our Lord. In other words, we have this new beginning and new life, so our focus needs to be zeroed in on Christ and no longer on our own selfish desires. As an addict, most of your life your focus has been on getting and doing what you wanted, but now in Christ your focus needs to shift to doing the will of God.
What does be a living sacrifice mean? It means you are in agreement with Him being the Lord of your life… the King of your heart! It does not mean you have to be perfect, but you have been set aside for God and you must submit to that calling. Submitting to what God has set you aside to become is an act of obedience that will please God. So, the first step in your journey to sanctification is willing submission to Christ and recognition of Jesus as the Lord of your life.
When you have this attitude and follow it up with obedient actions, this not only is pleasing to God, but it reveals your obedience. These things are acts of worship to the One you call Savior. When you worship Christ, you place Him first and follow His leading in your life.
However, this is NOT how you were wired. Your natural desire has always been to seek after your own wants. In your addiction, your actions were self-centered and focused on getting what you wanted. This journey you are on now calls you to lay aside that natural desire and to willingly take a desire for what God wants in your life.
So, preacher, how can I do that? Paul shares that this can and will happen by your willingness to do two things. I want us to take notice here that these things are totally up to us. The Holy Spirit is there for our strength, but we must make the decision to act. Paul wrote, “…do not conform to the pattern of this world…” This must be an active choice on your part to distance yourself from who you used to be and the world you used to live in.
However, that choice alone will not result in you reaching sanctification. Paul pairs that with another action on our part which is the, ‘…renewing of your mind….’ This is teaching the believer that you have to actively leave the world behind and then allow God to transform your mind with His Word. These two actions are based on your willingness to grow as a believer.
It is at this point where Paul shares a result of those actions. When you are willing to turn your back on the world and allow God’s word to transform your mind then you are going to be blessed by knowing the right paths to take in life. Paul teaches that when you do this, you are able to, ‘…test and approve what God’s will is…’ – what does that mean? Well, it means that Paul is sharing how we can know God’s desires for our lives.
You can know the direction God wants your life to go and know that you are on the right road to experiencing the purifying sanctification process. You have been delivered but you are continuously BEING delivered by God’s grace through your obedience and willful submission to Him.
So, to sum this up, you ARE sanctified when Christ rescues you from sins dark domain, but you are also BEING sanctified daily as you submit to Him and His Lordship over your life. I challenge you to travel this road in obedience and know that God is pleased with that obedience!