Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. [Matthew 6:25, 32-33 ESV]
Sanctification is the process God uses to separate use from the sinful world in which we live while preparing us for Himself and eternity. It is apparent, even to those who want nothing to do with God, the world influences our thinking, our feeling, our desires and wants. Christians struggle with misinterpreting the desires of their flesh for the absolute needs and rights demanded by the world. God does not cater to these misplaced, misinterpreted desires. He knows what we need and will not deny those needs. He may deny our desires and wants. However, He may fulfill our wants and desires when they conform to His will, not our own. Sanctification, part of hungering and thirsting after righteousness, is the training camp God uses to teach us to look to Him and not to ourselves or the world.
How does God use the world as part of His training? As He changes us by conforming us to the likeness of His Son we begin to think and feel, to see and recognize, the assault of sin saturating the world and its activities. Part of our training is the battle we must actively wage against sin. When God brought the people of Israel out of Egyptian captivity into the Promised Land He was explicit in His instructions to kill all of the inhabitants. This is harsh, but all those who lived in the land would have influenced His people to sin against Him. He set them apart to be different and wanted no corrupting influence to take their eyes off Him. They did not do as He commanded and have had to fight the corruption of the world ever since.
In the same way, when God saves a person He tells them to kill all of the sin in their life. Sin must be purged from the believer’s life so its influence does not continue to corrupt what God has changed and is purifying. Any sin not obliterated completely will remain, grow and distort the Christian’s vision and wisdom. This does not change God’s love for us even knowing He hates sin. His Son died so we might be freed from the effects of sin. When He chose us He set us apart for Himself. Why would we then continue to sin knowing sin’s consequences? Sanctification is God teaching those who are His what it means to be separated from the world for His kingdom.
Sanctifications first affect is spiritual separation of everything righteous from everything which is sinful. It is in full accordance with our new nature to desire everything deemed righteous by God and disdain everything with even a hint of sin. Yet, like His declared people, the nation of Israel, we have not purged sin from our lives. God would have driven the local people out of the Promised Land had His people actively continued waging war against them until all was accomplished. They stopped fighting allowing the idolatrous people of the land to stay and lead them away from God.
We remain in our sinful flesh even though we have the Spirit of God in us. It may take a lifetime but God demands we actively purge sin from our lives until we have accomplished His directive. This means we are done with sin at physical death. How long it takes, a lifetime, is not an excuse to stop fighting and allow sin control. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness begins now and continues until we are finally changed.
Changing us and filling us with His Spirit means we stop hungering and thirsting after sin and begin hungering and thirsting after righteousness. The world, and all our supposed needs, wants and desires are a distraction from what God wants for us. When we place more value upon anything God knows we need, worrying and obsession over it, we say to God we do not trust Him. We also say we do not recognize we are His, bought with a price. God uses our misplaced desires, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and our own minds and emotions to teach us the danger of all which surrounds us in the world.
When you begin obsessing ask yourself questions: Do I trust God to give me what He knows I need? Will my life end if I do not receive what I am obsessing over? If my life does end, am I willing to give it to Him who has guaranteed me eternal life? Am I really His?
Sanctification changes our thinking and our feeling, conforming our will to Him who controls all things, owns all things and loves us unconditionally. When we see ourselves hungering and thirsting after His righteousness, even minutely, we can know He is working in us preparing us for eternity.