Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Once I was boiling a pot of water on a stove that I suspected wasn’t working properly. The pot had been sitting on the burner for several minutes and there were no bubbles, no steam, no indication that the water was even warm, much less near boiling. So I absentmindedly did the dumbest thing I could have done—I stuck my finger in the water to test its temperature.
Yeah. I know.
As you might have guessed, the stove was working just fine, and the water was scalding hot. Despite the appearance that nothing was happening, the water had been changing, slowly rising in temperature, the entire time.
Sanctification, your spiritual cleansing in Christ, can be as subtle as that water’s boiling process. When you become a believer in Jesus, your newfound faith comes with a repentant commitment to a new way of life. You’re prepared to throw aside the sins that once ruled you and turn things over to your Lord, to be completely transformed.
But as time goes by, Satan begins to tell you a devious lie: you’re exactly who you always were. Pairing temptation with guilt and shame, he works to convince you that your relationship with Christ hasn’t changed you at all, that you’re just as weak and worthless as you ever were, unworthy of God’s attention, much less his love.
But the Bible reminds us that, just like the water on my stove, anyone who professes faith in Jesus is unquestionably changed. Once fallen, in Christ you are called faithful. Once wretched, in Christ you are declared righteous. Once a sinner, in Christ you are a saint.
Faith is a journey, something with ups and downs, successes and failures. You will inevitably stumble, only to repent and receive forgiveness by the grace of God. But never make the mistake of thinking you’re exactly who you were before you knew Jesus. The truth is as gracious as it is glorious: you are a new creation.