This post contains affiliate links
When you have been born of the Spirit, at first, you can be a little rough around the edges. Like a messy bedroom or bad pedicure or disorganized closet. Some things still need to be overhauled or fixed up.
Even though your spiritual eyes have been opened to see your need for a Savior for the forgiveness of your sins, there’s still much work to be done to reflect Christ. But you don’t work alone. The Holy Spirit, from the moment of conversion, is conforming you to the image of Christ to reflect Him. See also previous post on what it means to walk by the Spirit.
Are You Willing to Cooperate?
I needed a lot of refining after I was saved. A deep cleansing from the Spirit was in order, but was I willing to cooperate? Initially, I was somewhat cooperative. I was excited about my new life in Christ, at the same time, conversion was a shock to my soul and I was super sensitive to sin. And some things God cleaned up right away like my swearing, but other things took awhile — such as inner and outer sins that I didn’t want to give up. It’s a process, sound familiar?
I was a smoker when I was saved. I didn’t give this up right away and God didn’t start convicting me of this bad habit right away either. It wasn’t until a few years later that I felt those inner promptings that I needed to quit. And I did. It was the Spirit at work that helped me to lay down something that had started to ruin my witness for Christ. It was a habit that controlled me and it had become sin. These convictions are part of the sanctifying process.
Sanctification “is the act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy.”
When you’re filled with the Spirit, the process of sanctification begins. You’ve been justified by faith, but when the Spirit is at work, He begins to conform you into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to the next:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17-18).
But at times, rather than glorious, it feels like you’re being squeezed like a sponge. Sin that you didn’t even know existed is purged out of you. Ouch! One way that God shows sin in your life is through your close relationships. They have a way of showing you your need for the Spirit’s sanctifying work as they can push your sin buttons and vice versa.
Thankfully, God is long-suffering and patient and doesn’t work on purging all of your sin issues at once. Just like He didn’t work on me quitting smoking until a few years later. He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Ps. 103:8). See When It Seems Like Your Sins Are Too Big to Forgive. But He eventually does deal with it one step at a time.
Do You Want to Reflect Christ?
Who do you want to be like? As the saying goes “you start becoming like the people you hang around with.” If your time is spent with the Lord and sensitive to the Spirit, you want to and start to become like your Savior. On the other hand, if you hang out with the world, you want to and start to look like the world. But God wants something more for you….
He wants you to reflect Christ. But why? Isn’t being saved enough? If you’re truly His, bought with a price, the Spirit in you desires to manifest Christ’s presence and reflect Him. And the Spirit is at work growing you and freeing you of areas that are no longer needed because “…it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
It’s for God’s good pleasure. Anything that is not His good pleasure, needs to be squeezed out. But you’re not left alone — the Holy Spirit is at work in you to do God’s good pleasure. It’s that stirring in you that longs to obey your Father, not out of duty, but delight. See John Piper’s book: Don’t Waste Your Life (Redesign).
However, if you ignore the stirrings of the Spirit, sensitivity to the Spirit decreases and you eventually quench the Spirit. It is not God’s good pleasure to feed the flesh with things that were your former life that Christ freed you from such as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, and revelling (Gal. 5:19-21).
These patterns of sin can deny that Christ is at work in your life. These are the things of the flesh, not the Spirit. This is why it’s important to be flexible and moldable to reflect Christ’s image. The Spirit provides the supernatural courage or quickening to do what God has called you to do. God in His mercy gets to work by His Spirit to polish and refine those rough edges so you don’t deny Christ by your actions from one degree of glory to the next.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (Eph. 3:14-17).
So then that person whyo used to be rough around the edges, he or she now reflects the beauty of Christ because of the empowering work of the Spirit, which glorifies the Father. Be holy, for God is holy (1 Pet. 1:16). See Knowing God by J. I. Packer.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Eph. 4:15-16).
And when the Spirit is at work to reflect Christ, your gifts that you’ve been given helps the body of Christ to grow and be built up. When you edify the body, this is God’s will and good pleasure!
Any other ways the Spirit works to reflect Christ? Would love to hear from you!