Sanctification is the process God calls Christians to endure in order that they might be conformed into the image of Christ (Romans 9:21, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 2 Timothy 2:20, Romans 8:29-39, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Hebrews 12:5-8). Once we are saved, God desires truth in the inward parts (Psalms 51:6). This does not happen automatically, it comes about as a result of our obedience through sanctification. If you do not choose to walk in sanctification and obedience after you become saved then you choose to abide off the vine (John 15:1-8). This has consequences, not only will you be a novice all your life (Hebrews 5:11-14, 1 Corinthians 3:2-3) in your understanding and relationship with God, but you will be in danger of hearing the words, “I never knew you, depart from me, you who work lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). In short, God requires sanctification in the life of the individual believer (Revelation 3:18-21). Below I am going to outline an example of the process of sanctification. There is no set way for God to sanctify a believer, and I’m not advocating that. All relationships are different and God uses many instruments, methods and devices to sanctify His people. Below is an outline I believe is edifying because I highlight the steps that are common within God’s sanctification process. It is kind of like football. There are many different ways to score points and succeed, but the rules are always the same no matter your approach. There are many different ways God chooses to sanctify us, but you can expect these rules (or steps) to be common within any process.
There are six steps within the outline below, but we need to understand that although these processes or steps build one on another, none of the steps are ever completed in our lives. Once we have overcome a certain step, we will go forward continuing to building on that step, or we will go forward as a direct result of having become so familiar with the step that it is now processed within our understanding. To overcome a step does not mean you have attained that step… it simply means you know that step well enough to consistently work through it. It is like a job… you might have a job and you might know how to perform that job… but it doesn’t mean you’re perfect at it. You are qualified to work that job and get paid. I repeat, overcoming a step is not attaining a step, it is more like qualifying yourself so you can work within that step more securely and efficiently. At the end of each step, I will place some edifying highlights to hammer everything in. I also urge you to print out this interpretation for easier reference. I refer back and forth many times throughout the steps. My back and forth method can become confusing if you don’t remember the previous steps covered. The reason I go back and forth referencing the steps is because again, the steps are never attained or finished they are only learned and then built upon.
Step #1 Prayer, Fasting and Giving
These are the foundations of our faith in Christ and this is where we all begin. Jesus says in the bible, “when you fast… when you pray… when you give… (Matthew 6:1-18).” These are absolutes that God expects us to walk in. Prayer, which is spiritual communion with God; Fasting, which becomes a spiritual breaking and undoing process within ourselves; And Giving, which becomes Christ like giving, mostly of ourselves and then of our income and possessions, is the lifestyle norm that will not only usher us into walking in the Holy Spirit, but will help us gain a solid foundation (Mark 4:20) where we can eventually become more fruitful for God. As God disciplines (Hebrews 12:5-11, Revelation 3:19) us throughout this step, we will grow spiritually in order to hear His voice and learn to discern His direction for us.
1. If habitually practiced, one can excel within this step through consistent repetition… thus establishing the relationship.
2. Although we can excel, the step will need to be applied over the duration of our lives. This step lies at the core of our spiritual walk and is a foundation of faith.
3. Prayer, Fasting and Giving are like spiritual food for the Christian so he can be strengthened for the marathon race of sanctification.
Step #2 Hearing and Obeying God
To hear and obey God is something that will become discerned as you apply step #1 over and over to your life. Step #1 will help you learn who God is, and will actually prepare you for step #2. Because you have humbled yourself and obeyed God through step #1, you are now walking in greater spiritual authority so when you do hear God, you will obey (integrity). Step #2 is an act of submission, so as you abide in step #1, step #2 will become more automatic because step #1 has prepared you to obey what you learn.
1. Quick obedience is key during this step. If quick obedience is applied consistently once humility is learned, one should please God within this step.
2. This step can become tricky and will continue to challenge the Christian. God will then test your hearing on different levels, and in many different ways. If Step #1 is continuously practiced, then submission and learning should become more natural, helping you to please God within this step.
Step #3 Christ like Suffering
In volume one of my prophetic interpretations I wrote an interpretation titled, “What is a Christians Training?” As the result of obedience, a Christian’s training is suffering. If you want a deeper understanding of this concept, please refer to that interpretation. Simply put, once you obey God, and I mean truly spiritually obey Him, the result will be much suffering (Hebrews 5:8, 1 Peter 4:1-2). Do not deceive yourselves to think that since you go to church and pay tithes that you are obeying God, this is not spiritual obedience. Spiritual obedience is doing what Jesus did and said (John 13:13-17). To (symbolically) wash others feet, to prefer others before yourself, to become a servant to all, to cloth yourself with humility rather than pride, to minister (help and give of yourself and of your income) to the oppressed, poor, feeble and weak among you, to make yourself lower… to deny yourself and to take up your cross and follow Him (Galatians 6:7-8)… and to absolutely obey your conscience on every level (James 4:17). Spiritual obedience is not the same as a monotonous routine or some fleshly checklist that gives you a false sense of satisfaction. It is a life walk and spiritual relationship toward your Lord and Master who has bought you with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).
1. Knowledge is key in this area. A lot of Christians don’t understand why they must suffer. Knowledge will help you leap this hurdle.
2. Once you accept your fate, you will continue to struggle with this step. Securely receiving the truth that Christ has called you to suffer will take much time and tears in order for you to learn. This step, combined with step #2, prepares you for God’s purging fires.
Steps #2 and #3 then merge to become one step – Hearing God and consequently Obeying and Suffering now become a cycle - “God’s Purging Fires”
From here on out, it gets a bit confusing… though I will try and keep it simple. It is really like the chicken and the egg at this point. What came first? Well, they’re the same… just at different phases or different developments of growth. Once you have shown yourself worthy in these areas, consistently, the two steps merge to become one. Once you learn to hear God (discern), and then consequently obey, you won’t know where your suffering begins and where your obedience ends. It will all become one big blur. All you will know is that you are in “a state” of both obeying and suffering. The more you obey the more you suffer… and the more you suffer the more you will realize that you need to obey (Hebrews 5:8).” This is “the place” where God has ordained to change you, this is “the place” where you’re tried and this is “the place” where God shadows you in His Hand. I could go on and on but I’ll spare you. God has worked very hard, through steps #1-3, to get you to “this place” so He can work in you. As a Christian, this is where you now live. This is going to be your new home for awhile. This is where God WILL change you (Revelation 3:18-21). Simply put… Steps 2+3 merged now become His purging fires of discipline (Hebrews 12:5-10, 1 Peter 4:1-2)!!!
Now, we’re not done in this place. In order to become successful in step 2+3, we will also need to learn two other steps while still abiding in step 2+3. The second step is the actual process of step 2+3, which becomes Step #5. But before we can be successful here, we need to receive salt and endurance through step #4. By default, our fleshly sinning ways will want to skip step #4. I will further outline this and then you will hopefully understand. Step #4 is a spiritual endurance process that allows us to strengthen (season) our character as well as our inner-man so we can endure step # 5. We will have a great fleshly desire to go right to step # 5 though, because we want to please God… but we will be unsuccessful at step # 5 until we become fruitful in step #4.
Step #4 The Endurance and the Salting
Now again, most are going to go right by this step and go right to step # 5, but God is going to, after your failures at step # 5, lead you back here (again and again) so you can endure and be salted (Hebrews 10:36). It is kind of like, before moving forward, you need to take two steps back. This saying applies here. You are truly going to need to learn to step back so you can go forward. Step # 4 is endurance. Trust me, you need to endure so you can survive step # 5. Step # 4 basically becomes training for step # 5. During step # 4, you will have God break the process, and you, down. It will become a slow.. slow… slow….. slow…….. slow……………. slow…………………………………..wait process, and here, you will learn a lot about yourself. You will learn a lot about small obedience’s and you will learn a lot about denying yourself and taking up your cross and following Him (Zechariah 4:10, Matthew 16:24). This will be a time where God shows you to you. It has often been said that God tests us, not because He doesn’t know the outcome, but because He desires to teach us our outcome. God is going to show you your failures, your strongholds… your sin. He is going to show you so much that you are not going to want to see anymore. He wants to break you in this place (Matthew 21:44), because He desires to bless you. God desires that you overcome, but He needs a humble vessel to honor so that, by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6), you will overcome. God’s process in step # 4 is to create a workable vessel so step # 5 will be a success. The reason that we want to skip step # 4 for step # 5 is because we want to quickly please God through the purging process. But the thing we cannot see is that step # 5 isn’t quick or easy, and we will never be successful in step # 5 by our own understanding or strength. When we attempt to go straight there right after step # 2+3, we have transitioned to this step in our own strength (zeal), and not by His Spirit. For this reason, we must take a step back in order to learn step # 4… so when we do advance to step # 5, we do so not in our own strength (zeal), but by the power and honor of the Holy Spirit.
For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
If you look at the last part of this verse, it says to have salt in yourselves is to have peace. God wants us secure. Secure people are those who have peace with one another. As God seasons or “salts” us with His fire, or when He compares our obedient submissions to His Spiritual ways, we are rubbing against His righteousness. This proves us, but also conforms us as it tries us. God is basically saying, “when I measure you, including whatever you happen to be doing for Me, will it add up; and even if it doesn’t, will you endure until it does (Revelation 11:1-2, Zechariah 4:10, Amos 7:8)?” The great thing about this process is it makes us very humble and secure (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). God seasoning us with His fire and salting our obedient sacrifices with His salt will break us down and show us ourselves. It is almost like a marinating process where our spirit becomes marinated by God’s Spirit Himself (Holy Spirit). In this place… we endure and when we do, we learn a lot about ourselves and the process on a discerned spiritual level. We fully accept who we are (wretched sinners), and as we transition through step # 5, we will become overcomers. We will become secure enough not to judge others so we actually do have peace. Step # 4 will enable us to endure and will expose us (humble us), so we see ourselves for who we really are, so that we will have the right attitude toward the cleansing process of step # 5 (Psalms 12:6). This will create humility that God will seek to bless during step # 5 (1 Peter 5:5). With this level headedness, discernment into His ways and humility… we will be at peace and will not become deceived or discouraged as we continue through step # 5. It is important as we continue into step # 5, that we have the right focus and seasoning (within us). Step # 5 is the method or vehicle of the actual purging process so we need all the security and all the humility we can muster in order to be focused to “stay in His fire.”
1. Step # 4 is more of a process of testing through both learning and waiting, whereas
2. Step # 5 is more of a process of testing through both implementation, and impartation.
Step #5 The Purging Process
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.
The purifying process of God is a cleansing process. The above verse describes silver being tried in a furnace seven times. Silver or gold is purged of dross so it will become more pure. These medals are put in the fire and as a result, the dross comes to the surface (1 Peter 1:6-7, 4:12-13). You will have tasted of this process a little during Step # 4, while God was revealing you to you… but that process didn’t cleans you, it humbled you. Now, you will exercise yourself fully within this cleansing process as a humble (and workable) vessel. Step # 5 is God’s desire for the Christian and this step becomes both the implementation and the honoring of God (through God’s impartation). As God purges our faith and our flesh in His fire of trials and tribulations, our sins and iniquities, like dross, come to the surface so that we, as Christians, can identify them through both Godly sorrow and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). It is a scooping away of ourselves. I would like to outline the fire process to make it easier to understand.
1. God will bring fire through trials and tribulations to bring your dross (fleshly fruits) to the surface.
2. This allows you, and sometimes others, to consciously see the sin. This humbles you to the truth, and reveals your need to face it.
3. Through prayer and action (fasting is also good) Godly sorrow is produced against this sin. This will begin the confession process.
4. This confession process will sometimes take time, sometimes it won’t. Some sins are purged almost immediately (God’s grace) whereas others are left in place to humble us throughout the process (God’s grace working us through the process). Remember, God knows you are a sinner, and your sin is not something new to Him. The process is what is important. It becomes your dedication to His process that He seeks to honor. Stick with His process and His Grace will see you through.
5. Repentance is actually a spiritual impartation of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 2:25, Hebrews 6:6, 12:17). When the confession process has produced Godly sorrow within our heart, repentance becomes the conformation of His Holy Spirit working in you. The breaking of sin in your life is only done by the power of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 10:27). True repentance becomes the honoring impartation of the Holy Spirit. If you want to understand what your part is within repentance, it is your faithfulness to endure His process which leads to repentance.
If you truly understand what I have mentioned in this section, you will understated you cannot combat the deep sin struggle/strongholds in your life until you first learn to become salted during step # 4. Simply put, unless you gain saltiness and endurance through step # 4, step # 5 will simply eat you up and spit you out. Step # 4 is probably the longest… most consistent and important part of your Christian walk; it humbles you (because you can’t suffer other steps until you learn to abide in what step # 4 taught you). Step # 5 requires a steadfastness of spirit; it also requires an honestly within ourselves and a level of spiritual maturity which only humility can bring. This is done so you won’t jump back into the flesh during the process. The overwhelming actions that disqualify us during step # 5 are jumping back into the flesh and not having a willingness (because we’re proud) to endure spiritually (we give up because we think we’re justified).
Step #6 The Fruits of the Spirit
You guessed it, the fruits are last. Step # 6 is a step of maturity because only mature Christians produce mature fruit!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit
On a tree, fruit is the last thing that develops. First the roots, then the trunk, then the branches, then the leaves and then the fruit. Fruit is the last thing you can expect to see become produced. Although we will have miniature spiritual fruits during our early walk, actual fruits or “maturities within the Spirit” will not become produced and overflowing until we overcome the fullness of the sanctification process (all the steps). Without learning and overcoming within the sanctification process in its entirety, any miniature spiritual fruits we do produce will simply become consumed within our fleshly habits and desires. Basically, our fleshly fruits will overcome and within time, will simply choke out any miniature spiritual fruits we produced (Mark 4:7).
Step # 6, is similar to Steps # 4 and # 5… it is applied in order to endure within God’s purging fires. At this point, God’s purging fires, or step 2+3, actually becomes a lifetime furnace of afflictions to try us for the rest of our lives. Since God has already established His methods in us (steps 1-5, including step 2+3), this new and improved furnace will be nothing new. Steps 1-5 were actually our schooling to cleanse us and to show us our old man (Ephesians 4:17-24). Now as we endure throughout the rest of our lives within this new furnace, which becomes step # 6, we will need to refer back to what we learned in school so that our step # 6 will continually be fruitful.
There is actually a unique method or process to this new lifetime furnace (step # 6).
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
A mustard seed doesn’t stop, and it is persistent (Luke 18:1-8). A mustard seed planted in the earth will become a perennial plant, meaning the root system stays in place but the actual plant blooms and dies every summer and winter. This means in the summer the plant is full of fruit, but by winter it has already died; yet the roots remain mature and active underground. Actually, the more seasons the mustard plant is able to endure, the deeper and more mature the root system becomes. Sound familiar? We as obedient Christians are maturely rooted in God, but every year we have seasons of faith that try us… but during these seasons we erupt with faith, which in turn yields Spiritual fruits within us (Bob Sorge pg. 228-230).
The importance of the mustard seed, with regard to Step # 6, is the resilience and the fact it is seasonal. Basically, a new battle begins every year. Step # 6 becomes a transformation from learning the ways of God (steps 1-5, including step 2+3), to practicing it in holiness for the rest of our lives (step #6). Our lifetime furnace will fire-up anew every year, but will also die down so we can spiritually regroup and gather ourselves (re-fertilize – Luke 13:8). The fruits of the Spirit erupt as a manifestation of the Spirit within us. Please don’t misunderstand this mystery. Fruit is simply the manifestation coming about as a result of the fiery season, but any spiritual fruit produced is the result of the Holy Spirit within us, and our abiding in it. Someone who has not learned to abide in Jesus during (steps 1-5, including step 2+3) will not produce Spiritual fruit in their fiery season, abiding in their flesh they will produce fleshly fruits. Basically, fruits become the produce, or manifestation, of the vessel.
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
We must remember it takes a long time to learn to faithfully abide in Jesus and an even longer time to gain unto perfection (Philippians 3:12-21). Just like a child, it takes a long time to mature, but an even longer time to age. Steps 1-5 bring us into a steadfastness, wisdom and patience… but Step # 6 becomes the aging process which yields yearly spiritual fruit for the rest of our lives. Once we settle into step # 6, we are to allow the learning of our past, as well as the aging of our present and future, to settle us down into the perfect will of God (1 Peter 5:10).
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
So just to recap. You will learn and abide in step 1,2 and 3. Once you are familiar with all these steps, steps 2 and 3 merge into one step called step 2 + 3. It is within step 2 + 3 (as you abide in it) that you will learn steps 4 and 5. Once you have shown yourself diligent in all the steps… step 2 + 3 will eventually dissolve and will become step 6 (it’s the same process just a different level of maturity – it’s more advanced). While abiding in step 6, you will age as a Christian for the duration of your life. Just so you can understand a timeline for all these things (to put things into perspective). It will take the better part of 15 years just to become salted (in step 4) so you can faithfully abide in step 5. From here, getting purged in step 5 can take another 15 years (maybe 20). This means you will not realistically abide in step 6 until after 35 years of solid Christianity. After 35 years you should be mature enough to know the ways of God so that you can maturely produce spiritual fruit in your fiery season. Don’t be deceived. I have been worshiping God in spirit and in truth for over 14 years, and currently I am in step 4 and still learning how to stay in step 5 (and not jump back into the flesh). I am probably a good 15 years from securely and maturely abiding in step 6. To attain in God takes time. All that matters is you are faithful to endure this process (overcome). If the Lord happens to take you home and you only make it to step 2… then God will be pleased you advanced (overcame) from step 1 to step 2. Attaining has never been the focus for the Christian (Philippians 3:12). We are called to overcome. Overcoming is about the journey… not the destination.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-7
Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
As we accept the Lord’s will of sanctification for our lives, we will become as Him, and like Him… we will also overcome. God granted us salvation as a free gift so we could overcome as He overcame, but sanctification requires an obedience and suffering that might very well cost us everything (Matthew 16:24). Steps 1-5 become the learning, and step # 6 becomes the life. If you truly want to please the Lord, and be found worthy at His coming (1 John 2:28-29), then you will accept sanctification as God’s unconditional will for your life. I have given you a model, but as you seek God, He will guide you in all truth (John 16:13)… in what you should do and how you should worship Him. There is no set way of becoming sanctified, but I have given knowledge and wisdom so that anyone who desires clear understanding should have it. God bless you as you seek His will and His direction for your lives.
Sorge, Bob. The Fire of Delayed Answers. http://www.oasishouse.net.