In sanctification, God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. On the death side of sanctification, I identify myself with the death of Jesus Christ, allowing him to crucify my old life for the sake of the new. There is always a battle royal before sanctification, always something that tugs at us with resentment against the demands of Jesus Christ. The battle begins the instant the Spirit of God shows us what sanctification entails: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

In the process of sanctification, the Spirit of God strips me until I have nothing left but myself—no father, no sister, no friends, no self-interest. Am I willing to be simply ready for death? Sanctification requires it. No wonder Jesus said that he “did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us faint. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus. “It’s too severe,” we say. “He can’t want me to do that.” Our Lord is severe, and he does want us to do that.

Am I willing to reduce myself simply to me? To strip away everything my friends think of me, everything I think of myself? To hand that naked self over to God? The moment I do, he will sanctify me wholly, and my life will be free from all attachment that is not in him.

If I pray, “Lord, show me what sanctification means,” he will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification isn’t some quality or ability that Jesus Christ puts into me. It is him in me.

Wisdom from Oswald

Both nations and individuals have tried Christianity and abandoned it, because it has been found too difficult; but no man has ever gone through the crisis of deliberately making Jesus Lord and found Him to be a failure. The Love of God—The Making of a Christian, 680 R