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Back to the Future Sanctification

I love watching the old Back to the Future movies. It’s the brilliant concept that we can travel back in time to change our future is something all of us would like to do. Each and every one of us has a lingering mistake that we can point to and declare, “My life would be so different if I hadn’t done THAT!”

Despite those mistakes, Jesus desires that we grow in our walk with him. To be sanctified. Is it possible to sabotage sanctification? Absolutely. Sanctification is the process of becoming holy. We’re not who we WANT to be, but praise God, we’re not who we USED to be. 

In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul writes, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:10-15

Paul presses on. He presses on. He presses on. But before he could fully and completely press on he had to become forgetful. He had to forget the things that he had already moved past. He had to embrace what he had overcome and not look back to those things. 

We can sabotage our sanctification when we let the mistakes that belong in our past effect our judgment in the present.  In other words, we believe that the we’ll never be greater than our greatest mistake.  We don’t verbally speak it, but we live it.  We refuse to allow ourselves to achieve the level of greatness that God has called us to.  

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.” John 14:12

This is what we’re called to.  We are called to embrace the miraculous work of Christ in us.  We are called to operate daily in the supernatural as we are led by the Spirit to do greater things.  We are called to do what Christ has done while He was on earth – and even greater things in His name so that the Father may be glorified. Unfortunately far too many have failed to claim the inheritance that this promise brings.  The various past experiences that linger just within our faintest memories seem to re-surface the moment a greater level of spiritual success is within our reach.

I once read that when two countries go to war, the victor typically takes the wealth of the losing nation (to pay for expenses) and removes or destroys the religious artifacts and artwork (to influence the culture).  The victor takes one additional step that has more of a long-term impact than the first two by far:  the victor rewrites the history books (to control the facts that the people are led to believe).  As time goes by, the rewritten history is believed and the future reflects it.  The same occurs on an individual basis.  Your history, whether you wrote it or someone else did, defines your future.  What you do, what you become, and what you believe about yourself are a direct result of your history.

In order for us to experience joys the sanctification process we must first begin to allow Christ to re-write our history.

In the movie “back to the future” Marty McFly had to travel back in time to re-write the outcome his life.  We do the exact same thing when we travel back to the moment that Jesus was crucified for our sins.  Our pasts were crucified with Christ on that day. The difference is even though Christ came off that cross, we leave our pasts mistakes up there like a sticky note to remind us of how we have failed.

Sanctification is coming to grips with what God has called you to be, however, in our efforts to be sanctified we often sabotage ourselves.  God locks the doors to the bad rooms in our lives but somehow manage to sneak in through the window.  Sanctification means that we don’t let our past failures dictate our future successes.

In viewing sin the only hold that Satan has is convincing us that somehow by sinning our lives will be made better.  We’ll be, if only temporarily, more happy.   And for far too many Christians, being even temporarily happy in sin is worth the spiritual setbacks that sin brings.  They sabotage their sanctification and in doing so, they exchange long term happiness for short term joy.

Leadership author Mike Connaway said it best when he said this,

   All thought patterns are set in stone, which is precisely why they call it a “mind-set.”  If our mind-set is wrong, then we will self-sabotage when it comes time to break out of our old thinking pattern and break into the new.  In short, we are unable to reach our destiny because our mind would not allow it.  Our mind wants order, thrives on order, and develops a pattern as quickly as possible to retain that order.  If something new comes along – whether good or bad- that takes us out of our pattern, our mind revolts and tries to take us back to what is considered normal.

We cannot allow sin to be what is normal in our lives. Sin should not make sense. It should not be comfortable. It should kick against everything Christ has done in our lives. 

The art of self-spiritual sabotage is part of our make-up as humans.  In order to stop this from happening we are forced to do one thing.  Change what the normal is in our lives. Instead of constantly reverting back to our marred history, we “do this one thing”.  We forget what is behind and strain towards what is ahead and press on.

How do we overcome the self-sabotage?

  1. We begin to view the spiritual successes that God gives us as normal, instead of the blessing that is few and far between.  The next time the Lord works through you or blesses you, thank Him, and look forward to even greater blessings, because in reality, that’s His promise to us.  God wants His blessings in your life to be the norm, not your sin.

  2. We must stop trying to assign value on ourselves and start accepting the value that Christ has placed on us.  Accepting the value that Christ sees in us will ALWAYS be greater than how we view ourselves.  When we can see ourselves through Christ’s eyes we will REFUSE to settle for less.

  3. Understand that the straining for the prize is part of the process.  Sin will always be tugging at us. Our pasts will always exist and strive to remind us that we don’t deserve to be where we are.  But, our success comes from giving Christ permission to re-write our history.

Forget the past. There is nothing you can do to change it. Jesus death wasn’t for our past, it was for our future. You may not be able to jump in a suped up DeLorean and travel back in time to change your life, but that’s the point. When we are in Christ, we won’t need to.  If any person be in Christ Jesus, they are a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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