Sanctification is the process that begins after salvation in which we are being conformed to Christ. This is through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts as we yield in obedience. This process will not be finished until death when we are glorified and taken to heaven.
I am a perfectionist at heart. Perfectionism is something I always believed was a good thing in my life; I should be proud to be a perfectionist. Because I am a perfectionist, my desk is always tidy, my house is orderly, I effectively schedule time, my assignments are done to the best of my ability, and I work to my best potential. It sounds like a character trait everyone should strive for.
However, those of us who are perfectionist, we know the tragic downside to perfectionism. We know those sleepless, anxious nights of wondering, “Did I perfectly word my essay to the best it possibly could be?” Or those fearful moments backstage after the presentation, “I totally screwed up everything.” We know the pain of perfectionism. Perfectionism has placed heavy chains over our necks, telling us that we will not be free until everything is in perfect order.
Our perfectionism even shows up in our faith. When you recognize sin in your life, are you overwhelmed with despair at your lack of perfect obedience to God? Do you constantly leave your Bible study time thinking, “I could have studied that passage so much better”? We rightly desire to be perfect like our heavenly Father is perfect, but we are utterly discouraged by how hopeless that pursuit of perfection has become.
Perfectionism leaves us angry with not only ourselves when we mess up, but also others. Perfectionism hurts our relationships because we not only have a high standard for ourselves, but also for all those we interact with. Whenever you walk by your co-worker’s office, you always make a big deal about their messy desk. When your husband helps you clean the house, you usually find yourself frustrated with his lack of detail in the bathroom. If only everyone cared as much about perfection as me, you think to yourself.
Perfectionism paints a pretty, promising picture for us of the picture perfect life. It tells us if we hold to the standard of perfection, then our lives will be perfect. Our hearts will be at rest and our minds will be at peace. In reality, perfectionism leaves us exhausted, frustrated, anxious, and hopeless.
Friend, let me tell you the better standard Scripture sets. Let me show you how believing the theology I preached and studied totally changed my anxious, angry, perfectionistic heart.
Your Sanctification is Progressive, and That’s Okay
Within the realm of Christianity, there are a few different beliefs as to what the process of sanctification looks like. There are people who will tell you that at some point in the process of sanctification, you will hit “perfection” and no longer sin. Let me assure you now that that is not what the Bible teaches.