"...I will imprint My laws upon their minds, even upon their innermost thoughts and understanding, and engrave them upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." --Hebrews 8:10 (Amplified)
It's a standard scripture, full of trite religious lingo, and words I've heard in utter repetition since childhood. So much so, that if I had read this a month ago, I would have quickly breezed over it. "Yeah, yeah. I know that stuff," I'd have said to myself and moved on.
But in this last month God has awakened me to something new -- new to me, at least. It is something that perhaps I knew in theory before, but now grasp in experience. It has to do with holiness, the filling of the Holy Spirit, "resting" in Him (Heb.4) and it is as difficult to describe as what goes on in your heart when you see your newborn child for the first time. It is strange and mysterious -- as the ways of the Lord tend to be.
I hesitate to write about it as I am likely to be misunderstood, and am ill equipped to describe it in something as frail and human language. But I shall try.
To put it in a nutshell of theological terms, I am discovering that not only does Justification come by grace through faith. But the process of sanctification works in similar measure.
We have all heard the testimonies of those brought to the end of themselves and in utter desperation, surrender to Christ and his Salvation by faith. It is all about Him and not about me. Is it such a far leap to think sanctification could happen the same way?
I recently read a book: They Found the Secret by V.Raymond Edman which chronicles twenty people's experience with God -- post salvation -- where they came to end of themselves and simply had to cease striving in their own sanctification and KNOW that He is God. And in the midst of their weakness, a passion for the mere presence of God was born and they found completion in Him, despite their incompletion in themselves. Still they did all the "good" deeds that they engaged in before, but now the power of God stood squarely behind them. They learned how sanctification came not in their striving to follow models of Christian behavior, but in their resting and surrender.
This is not to say they were suddenly perfect, but rather they experienced God's spirit completing them in the myriad of ways they fell short.
And strange as it seemed, in the midst of that surrender and rest, Christian behavior became increasingly natural, not due to self motivation, but simply out of an ongoing experience of the presence of God in their lives.
And from this perspective I discovered the above verse in Hebrews 8. Imagine it for a moment --God inscribing his law on our very thoughts and motivations. This is not something we can do for ourselves. Sure, we can memorize and should, but to actually have it inscribed on our very souls, that comes only through the work of the Spirit. It is a work that forces us the face our own shortcomings instead of always pointing a finger at others. It is a work that awakens us to our weakness and drives us to continually surrender to Him for strength.
What's more: It is a spectacular transformation that step by step changes the way we see the world and how we operate in it. Spurgeon said it best, regarding this scripture:
"Oh brothers, is it not a wonderful thing that God should ever make it as natural for us to be holy as it once was to be unholy, and that we shall find it as much a joy to serve Him as we once thought it a pleasure not to serve Him, when indeed to deny ourselves shall cease to be self-denial? It shall be enjoyment to us to be nothing. It shall be delight to renounce everything of self and to cling close to God and to walk in His ways."
It is not our striving that brings about our sanctification any more than our striving wins us justification. Rather, it is surrender -- totally giving up all that we are (including our pursuit of our own happiness) and allowing Him to complete us with all that He is.
The description in this verse should excite us and drive us to surrender to His presence and the work of His Spirit in our lives.
"God, Make My Heart Engravable. Because I want you to write on me!