When I came home the other day, I found a card stuck in my door from a local church. The church was advertising a deliverance prayer meeting. I kind of smirked. Not that I didn’t appreciate the intent behind the motives. The motives are good – addressing sin and struggles, to walk in the way of the Lord. However, the problem is that it is supposed that by bringing whatever ails us to the altar, that automatically sets our sanctification straight. This is especially true if there is some heavy emotion involved. I have heard this far too often, because of emotional altar experiences, that person has been delivered and set free.
But how do we know this? The only way to tell if a person has been delivered and set free, so to speak, is that they show it. And by delivered and set free, it typically means behavior, issues or thinking that are contrary to Scripture. I actually think the language should be revamped (what would this even mean to the unchurched?). We are already delivered and set free in Christ (Col. 1:13-14). The problem is that our Christian walk may not automatically align with this reality. Prayer is good and needed, definitely. But alignment takes time and opportunity. It takes being confronted with situations that would bring out sinful or choices.
The truth is that sanctification is a process. Growing up in Christ is a process. We don’t get there with a magic bullet of altar crying but by a transference of affections from self to Christ and a transformation of thinking that complies to His Lordship. While I do acknowledge there are times, when we are jolted out of patterns of bad behavior or thinking, for the most part it is trek through peaks, valleys, deserts, and fire. There are ups and downs, failures and victories on the path of progressive sanctification. Continue reading