Summary: After you are saved, your goal is to grow in relationship with Jesus, with other saints, in godliness, and to work out your salvation. Sanctification is the process the Holy Spirit guides you through until you meet Jesus.
In my last post, I described being a disciple of Jesus and the process of discipleship. Now, we turn to understanding what happens after salvation, the process of sanctification. You will grow in sanctification for the rest of your walk with Jesus on the earth.
Growth is the keyword and experience of all Jesus’ disciples. You grow in relationships, in the Christian faith, and you keep working with the Holy Spirit. Let’s dive deeper into each of these areas of your life.
Working Out Your Salvation
A general way of talking about your growth as a Christian is to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13). When Paul uses this phrase, he is talking about how we grow in our relationships and in the faith.
But he’s also talking about improvement in our character. The Holy Spirit teaches us God’s holy expectations and helps us become more holy, conforming us to Jesus’ image (Romans 8:29). Many Christians misunderstand how this happens in our lives.
They think that the Holy Spirit does all the work on our character and person. But it’s not all the Spirit’s job. Just one verse before, Paul talks about obedience. Many people think it’s all up to God and we’re just along for the ride.
But that’s not how it works. It starts with the Holy Spirit pointing out character issues that disagree with God’s holy best for us. He brings up one or two issues at a time. Through the Scriptures and daily experiences, He calls us to change.
We obey Him and do whatever He is telling us to do. The works we do don’t save us. But they do sanctify us. They make us more holy as we listen to and obey the Holy Spirit. Jesus only calls us to one thing, obedience. But when we obey, we do what the Spirit tells us to. So, it is a reciprocal relationship.
Growing in Godliness
Paul also describes our relationship with Jesus as growing in godliness (1 Timothy 6:6). He says it is great gain. But along with godliness, the holiness that pleases God, we must not become materialistic, seeking to gain worldly possessions.
We must be content with the godly desires that please the Lord. We cannot take any possessions with us when we leave this world. The only thing we take with us is the souls of those we influence and witness to on the earth.
We must be content with God’s blessings, which are more than enough for us. We will discuss this more when we talk about the Christian perspective of God’s rewards rather than worldly possessions. Jesus tells us to seek His Kingdom first, and all these things will follow (Matthew 6:33).
Jesus changes our desires when we come to Him. One of those changed desires is to please Him first, to be content with whatever He gives us. He wants us to be godly, holy and blameless before Him. Holiness is one of God’s chief attributes.
Deeper in Relationship with Jesus
More than anything in this life, we seek to grow in our relationship with Jesus. We want to go deeper in relationship with Him. We seek Him more than possessions and blessings. We want to draw near to God (James 4:7).
We seek intimacy with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. We will discuss intimacy with Jesus through prayer in a later post. Some of the spiritual disciplines help us draw near to God. Our love for Jesus is our motivation for everything we do. Seven
Jesus tells us we can do nothing without Him (John 15:5). But as we abide in Him, He produces the fruit in us that pleases Him. In the Bible, fruit can refer to character development and to deeds. We want to please Jesus in both.
Our relationship is about the mutual love we have for one another. We love Jesus because He gave His life for us, to save us from wickedness, Hell, and the grave. He gave His life for us (John 15:13). Now we give our lives for Him, serving Him with our whole heart, and even willing to suffer persecution and possible martyrdom.
There is no deeper love than Jesus’ love for us. He taught us how to love unconditionally (1 John 4:19). We learn to love others and Jesus because of His example. And we will continue to grow deeper in love with Jesus with every passing day.
Growing in Faith
Another way we grow is in our faith in Jesus. We trust Him more and more with every trial we face. Trials teach us to turn to Jesus. The quicker we learn that, the faster our trials disappear. Jesus builds our character and faith through trials.
We will talk about trials and suffering in a later post. The longer we walk with Jesus, the more our faith increases. He shows us over and over that He is faithful. He never lets us down. Faith has different aspects to it.
One aspect of faith is trusting in Jesus. The more we trust Him, the more we realize not just in our heads but in our hearts that He sees it ahead of us into the future and nothing surprises Him. In everything we face, He builds our trust in Him.
Another aspect of faith is leaning on Jesus. We learn to lean on Him for everything. In every trial, we lean on Jesus to help us through. Leaving on Jesus makes us rest in His power instead of our own. We seek His resources and prospective as we face the trials of each day.
It takes a lifetime to trust Jesus more and lean on Him instead of our own resources or are “Plan B.” Faith grows through the experiences of life. Through faith, we can please God (Hebrews 11:6). By reading His Word and studying it, then putting it into practice, our faith grows.
Growing in the Faith
Just as we grow in faith in Jesus, we also grow in the faith. It’s important for us to know and understand Christian doctrine. These are the truths that guide our lives and help us in our times of need. Plus, they keep us from error in our lives and walk with Jesus.
We must understand what God has said in His Word. We cannot put it into practice if we don’t understand what it means. The doctrines help us make sense of God’s Word. They guide us in godliness. But we must be careful not to put them above the Bible.
Theology and doctrine are man-made understandings of what we read. They are not infallible. We make mistakes, and no one has every part of theology completely right. We only see with our finite eyes. We only understand with our finite minds.
But the doctrines of our faith are useful. They help us, at least in some small part, to understand how things work, and to have a godly mind that seeks to understand Him. Understanding God and His ways are half the battle. Applying His Word is the other half.
The more you read the Bible, sit under godly teaching, and read other books that help you understand the Bible from others who have grown in the faith more than you, the better off you will be.
Other books can be useful in understanding God’s Word. Be open to reading other books. Discuss them with Christians who are more mature in the faith. These are some ways you grow in the faith.
Building Up Others
Another way we grow is by using the gifts the Spirit gives us to minister to other saints. You cannot walk the Christian path alone. You need the help of others, and you need to help others. We grow in part by helping others.
Jesus wants us to minister to others. It is one of the chief reasons He gives us gifts and talents. We benefit others with our abilities, resources, and personal growth in godliness. We can help others grow in Christ as we have grown in Christ with the help of those more mature in Christ than us.
We can help others understand the Bible better. And they can help us understand it. We can help each other stay on the right path. We can pray and intercede for one another. Each saint can lean on another saint. We can help each other through trials.
You have invaluable experiences and connection with Jesus to help other saints. Don’t sell yourself short. As you walk the path with Jesus, you can hold the hand of another saint. You can make a difference in other people’s lives. Jesus places you in just the right spot at just the right moment to help others.
Think of ways you know you need to grow. Which area I have talked about do you need to grow in? Most likely, like me, you need to grow in every one of these areas. Don’t get too excited. It takes time to grow. But ask the Holy Spirit which way you need to grow in this season of your life. Be open to the Holy Spirit, listening and obeying. And you will grow.
Sanctification is your goal after you get saved. You keep growing in many areas. Next, we will discuss the spiritual disciplines as a means to grow in godliness.