Completed In Christ
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 1:6
This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible because, if you’re anything like me, this is what sanctification feels like:
You can forget “one step forward and two steps back.” Most of the time my Christian growth feels like being carried up an escalator while, myself, trying to walk in the total opposite direction. Maybe that is a more accurate description of sanctification than we would like to think. Look at verse 6. Who is it that is beginning, continuing, and finishing the work of perfection? It’s Jesus. At no point here does Paul give the impression that you can perfect yourself. In fact, it is something quite different. You must be perfected by Jesus. And if you are in Him you WILL be perfected.
This is one of the many verses in the Bible that clearly states the Christian will be changed and transformed. Jesus always finishes what He starts. So if He starts the work of salvation, He will continue the work of sanctification, and He will finish the work of glorification.
There is so much promise in this verse! We are, as we often say, a work in progress, but one day we will be a work completed and whole. And the best part of it all is that the responsibility of completing that work does not rest on our shoulders. It is Christ who “will perfect it.” Later Paul will say, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil. 2:12)” I hope to deal with the balance of us working and Christ working in us when we get there. But for now, we are given this wonderful truth. By Christ we are saved. In Christ we are perfected. For a guy like me that is the best news! Oh, how often I get discouraged because I am not measuring up! How often I trip up and miss the mark! But thank God that “it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. (Romans 9:16)”
The fact that our sanctification is Christ’s work and not ours lifts heavy burdens off our shoulders. We don’t have to depend on a performance. We depend on a Person. We don’t have to put on a face. We put on Christ. Suddenly Christianity stops looking like keeping all the rules and starts looking like clinging desperately to Jesus. It is His righteousness that saves us, not ours. So, knowing this, we can press on through our brokenness with the assurance of the finished work that Christ is making in us.
What are you trusting in to make you perfect and pleasing to God? Your works? Your family values? Your church involvement? Your knowledge? Trust in “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2).”