By Ross Gilbert
I want you to imagine your life is an apartment with pictures on the walls. The pictures represent events and memories that form how you see yourself and your place in this world. A few of those pictures are good but most are painful events and memories.
Maybe one of your pictures is your mom or dad yelling at you as a child. The picture doesn’t so much capture the event, but instead, what the event told you about who you were. Every time you see this picture you see yourself as a failure who was unloved and unaccepted by those closest to you. Perhaps another picture is of a time when you committed some moral failure, and yet another captures the pain and rejection you felt at the hands of someone else's decisions.
As time goes by, you just can’t stare at these pictures that hang in your apartment any longer, so you decide to wallpaper over them. As hard as you try to make them disappear, the wallpaper does nothing to hide what’s underneath because you still know what they look like, and what they say, without even having to see them. You try to get more creative and build a wall to bury all those negative memories behind but all that happens is your room gets smaller and you feel more claustrophobic sitting in your apartment.
One day, Jesus shows up at the door. He had been knocking for many years, you heard Him, but you’ve always been too afraid to let Him in. But then one day, in a moment of weakness, you swing the door wide open and invite Him into your apartment.
He comes in and offers you His grace.
He offers to give you a brand new life and
take away the old one.
You accept and suddenly feel changed. But you realize that you are still living in the same old apartment, staring at the same old pictures with the same old messages. You still feel damaged and unloved.
What you do next is so critical. You have a choice to make, you can either believe that you’re truly a new creation, or you can keep believing what the pictures in your apartment tell you about yourself.
At salvation, you were justified, not by your works but by faith through grace.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done,
who you’ve done it with, or how many times you’ve
done it. Jesus loves you just as you are.
But that can be so hard to believe, can’t it? Especially when you’ve been told in your past that if you don’t change your behaviour then Jesus won’t be pleased. That, my friend, is a lie! Not only were you saved by faith, but you were sanctified the same way. Your salvation is not the product of your hard work and dedication, but instead, the product of what Jesus did for you and to you. The same is true for your sanctification. Sanctification is not the product of your hard work and dedication, but instead it is what Jesus does for you and to you. It is God's work to sanctify you, and He promises to do it. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NASB)
So here is what Jesus does, He comes up to the pictures one at a time and He looks at the most painful memories of hurt and says, “I can’t take down this picture, to do so is to pretend that the event never happened but I want you to see that your interpretation of that event was wrong... What they did to you says nothing about who you really are.”
You look again at the picture and you notice the picture changes: you suddenly see Jesus is there in the picture holding you with tears in His eyes.
Next, you try to cover the pictures of your worst sins with your hands in an attempt to hide them from Jesus. But Jesus says, “Your sins, no matter how big they are, are nothing compared to what I have done on the cross. Those sins become a testimony, a trophy of My grace, they are no longer your shame.”
We all have pictures that hang on the walls of our apartments and our apartments are all still a work in progress, but it is the work that Jesus is doing. Sanctification is to simply allow Jesus to finish what He started in your heart and life.
Too many people have been hurt by the abuse, traumas and rejections of their past and are living in claustrophobic apartments.
But the events of the past don’t begin to
compare to how powerful our Jesus is.
That is not to minimize your hurts or the impact of sin. It is to recognize that Jesus is able to bring healing to all the tender areas of our life.