For new Christians, getting to the part where they are willing to surrender their lives to Jesus is a monumental step. Pride wants us to manage our own lives. Prides says we don’t need another way. In the context of managing our own bodies, all we think we need before Jesus is a little more self-discipline. Being in a position of saying to an invisible God, “I am ready to let you have your way in my life,” is nothing short of miraculous. Without the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to Jesus, it’s impossible to do.
It doesn’t take long after salvation to realize that while we accepted Christ, we didn’t suddenly become all better when it comes to sin. We are forgiven, of course. But we are not made perfect as soon as we say, “Amen.” That’s where sanctification comes in. What does sanctification mean to a new Believer?
[ sangk-tuh-fahy ] SEE SYNONYMS FOR sanctify ON THESAURUS.COM
verb (used with object), sanc·ti·fied, sanc·ti·fy·ing.
to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate.to purify or free from sin: Sanctify your hearts.to impart religious sanction to; render legitimate or binding: to sanctify a vow.to entitle to reverence or respect.to make productive of or conducive to spiritual blessing.
New Believers Need To Be Discipled
New Believers need to understand that what happens to their lives after they say their Sinner’s Prayer is what we call sanctification. They especially need to know it’s not a one-time deal. As Christians, we are continually going through the process of being made holy day after day until death. There are things we struggle with after we receive salvation. Continually submitting to God who is cleansing those things that block our relationship to Him is often a painstaking process.
You’d think we’d be more willing. We said we wanted Jesus to take over, right? Still, we feel the strain of letting go of the things we know aren’t good for us anyway. That’s sanctification. We should take heart that it is not us who sanctifies ourselves but God who does the work in our hearts. We need only submit to His process of being made holy.
New Believers shouldn’t be surprised to find that they struggle with letting go of old things they use to comfort themselves in the place of God. There are obvious ones such as sex, alcohol, or substances, and there are not so obvious ones, like overeating, anger, and controlling behaviors. As those who disciple new Believers, it is our job to encourage them to pray and seek God’s word on what is not holy. The verses are plain:
…19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.
The whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 6 does a great job of illustrating some of the common things that Christians struggle with as they war against the flesh in favor of holiness. Helping the new Believer understand that the struggle doesn’t mean they are failing at being a Christian and encouraging them to cling to God as they work through the process goes a long way to seeing victory over sin.
Honoring The LORD With Your Body Means Rejecting Others At Times
One of the hardest things about being a new Christian and honoring the LORD with your body is having to tell those close to us that there are some things we don’t do anymore. Sex and abusing alcohol and substances are often the two things new Christians have the hardest time with saying no to. Let’s face it, some old Christians still struggle with these areas of their lives. But 1 Corinthians 6:12 is clear, everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial. Just because another Christian can have a beer and call it a day doesn’t mean that another Christian who struggles with being able to control his alcohol consumption is going to be able to do it too. God is not going to allow you to hurt yourself and His relationship with you. The things that cause separation from God and shame have to go.
The Bible is exceptionally clear; sex outside of a marriage is not permitted. The reasons God has for this are many and all have to do with choosing to use our bodies to serve Him instead of ourselves. There are zero reasons to have sex outside of marriage. The only reason we do it is to satisfy our own selfish needs. Any negotiation with a new Christian on why this should be permissible has to be squashed. Honoring the LORD with your body means deciding to lay our own lustful desires at the foot of the cross. Being honest with new Believers about what God says about sex and helping disciple them to holiness with their bodies is good discipleship. We were bought with a price. That price was the highest one to pay. Abstinence never killed anyone.
Being Honest About The Sins You Struggle With
Sin makes us want to hide. Sin never wants us to be honest about what we are struggling with. Sin also hates to ask for prayer to overcome it. Good discipleship is being honest with ourselves and others about the sins we need victory over still. Accountability partners, or people we can trust to pray for us without judgment and gossip, are great ways to work with God in submitting the things we dishonor God with our bodies over.
The Christian who seeks honesty and accountability in His walk with the LORD is going to make a great mentor for new Christians who need guidance and teaching in how to walk with Christ. Community Bible studies or small groups in your church are great places to find accountability partners. For the sake of honoring the LORD with your body and teaching others to do the same, find peace and freedom from sin with prayer and the help of the Brethren. We’re all in this struggle together, but there is hope in no one but Christ.