One of the greatest challenges for American Christians, who live in the middle of all the temptations of prosperity, is that we have lost the whole concept about what the Holy Spirit aims to do in our lives through sanctification.
Sanctification is: a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and more like Christ in our actual lives. It is preparation for a holy life of ministry on this earth as we walk and serve the living God. At the same time it is the preparation to be with God throughout eternity. It’s a journey, not a one-time happening.
When we came to a saving relationship with Christ, every bitter root was removed, and our old self was put to death. But it keeps springing back to life. Often, this is due to bitter roots that still have a firm hold in our souls. And our old sinful nature, which is still at play in our lives, is constantly striving to re-grow the root or to plant new roots that will grow bitter and twisted. Through the process of sanctification we are effectually bringing to death something that has already been slain.
Hear that? Every day, we need the help of the Holy Spirit to crucify—again—our old self and call our new inner man to the forefront. Our old nature doesn’t want to let go—it wants to come back.
“Creative activity could be described as a type of learning process where teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.” ~Arthur Koestler, novelist and journalist (1905-1983)
Although Koestler didn’t intend his remarks to be about the Holy Spirit residing in us, this quote is a good description of the trichotomist view of the inner man. The Holy Spirit (the teacher) resides in you (the pupil). And you learn by perforating the wall between your spirit and your soul with the Word of God, giving all of your willfulness over to the teacher. As this process goes on, more and more of what flows out of you to others is the love of God.
The process of sanctification brings all that we are—including our bodies—under the lordship of Christ. Our lives begin to change.