‘Sanctification begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God infuses into man that new living principle by which he becomes “a new creature” in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways—mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under; and vivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.’ – Charles Spurgeon.
Spirituality has become something of a shopping spree these days hasn’t it? There are so many options that in some way closely resemble one another, the search for inner peace.
Sometimes we hear the popular notion that people need to be ‘true to ones’ self’ or ‘find their inner you’ – but I would like to suggest that this is a meaningless search. Who we are on the inside may well be determined by our own will, our own environment, or the character that we were born with – but how changeable is it? We label each other in society as a way of segregating and defining our relationships. Labels we apply to others may be fair of unfair, but usually determine who we choose to be friends with, or not.
This is the situation for women of the bible who were socially excluded because of their lifestyles; they were branded and labelled with no hope for their future. The woman who anointed Jesus feet with oil (Luke 7:36-50), the Samaritan woman at the well who met Jesus (John 4:1-42) and the Rahab of the bible (Joshua 2), abandoned their former selves by becoming completely emptied and re-filled with the glorious grace of God. What would it have been like for them to return to the town or walk into the Israelite camp after being made new? Did women avoid making eye contact or developing trusting friendships with them – never really sure if their new commitment to God was legitimate?
It was not only the faith of women but the faith of the community that had to truly believe that God is able to make all things new, only He can perform miracles. Because the women completely emptied themselves (humbled themselves) before God, the grace of God is generous. The nourishment of the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.
If you find yourself weighing and measuring people, applying labels and examining others, you may need to lay aside this preoccupation. Jesus tells us about such women ‘her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ (Luke 47) Perhaps the extent to which we empty ourselves is also the extent to which God can fill us. The harsh labels that we apply to others; to the same degree we will be harshly judged. Jesus tells us the actual contents are irrelevant and labels are misleading – only our choice to completely follow him is honoured ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’ (Luke 7:50)
If your ambition is to be a good person, if you’re looking to choose the right spiritual product, or you’ve abandoned the right to choose a belief and have decided to follow yourself, give up the searching and surrender to the generous grace of God who makes all things new. God sets us apart as His people; He can make us Christ-like inside and out, and are no longer measured according to the standards of the world.
‘For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
I will live in them and walk among them,
And I will be their God,
And they shall be my people.
Therefore come out from them,
And be separate from them
Says the Lord
And touch nothing unclean;
Then I will welcome you,
And I will be your father,
And you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.’ 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1