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Picture from Amadeus (Milos Forman, 1984)

Sanctification or growing in holiness can be a confusing subject to Christians.  Verses such as 1 Corinthians 1:30 say Christ is our sanctification.  But 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely.”  Are we holy now?  Do we still need to be sanctified?

As I prayed about this dilemma once, the Lord reminded me of a scene from the movie Amadeus.  Mozart, a composer, has been commissioned to write an opera.  The customer who commissioned the opera comes to check on the progress and asks, “Is it finished?”  Mozart smirks and says, “Yes.”  The customer says, “May I see it?”  Mozart giggles, “No.”  A little perturbed now, the customer demands, “Why not?  I thought you said it was finished!”  “It is,” Mozart goads.  “Well where is it?” the customer pleads.  “It’s here, in my noodle,” Mozart laughs, pointing to his head.  “The rest is just scribbling and bibbling, bibbling and scribbling.”

Mozart’s masterwork was finished in his head.  He wasn’t concerned about writing it out (a task which bordered on tedium).  He would get to it in his own time.  The process of writing out the opera didn’t change the fact that it was done and that he would see it through to the ink on paper stage.

This is an apt analogy for sanctification.  We are set apart in Christ.  We are sanctified because we are in Him and He is in us.  The Holy Spirit is in the process of revealing that more and more fully in us.  But that process–with all its apparent messiness and falling short–doesn’t change the fact that we are finished in Christ.  As Ephesians says, we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

God isn’t worried about the process of sanctification like we are.  We come to Him often, demanding to see the finished work.  He points to Christ, the Head, in whom all is finished.  (I imagine He can’t help smirking sometimes when we stuffed shirts come to Him all in a huff peddling our demands.  What’s not funny about that?)

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