If you live in Polvadera, New Mexico, or in Nikolai or Perryville, Alaska, you don't have any neighbors who registered with Ashley Madison.
However, Polvadera (population 269) has no Internet access, and Nikolai (population 94) and Perryville (population 113) are tiny. That's 476 people out of more than 321,000,000 Americans. The rest of us are left to wonder about our neighbors' marriages.
Authentic character is vital for those who would influence their culture for Christ. How do we build such integrity?
Consider this analogy: a house in our neighborhood had a red brick exterior. Now it is covered in white stone. Masons cut the stone, piece by piece, and fitted it over the brick walls. Gradually the red became white. The owner could have had the bricks removed, but why go to such an expense? His goal was to change the appearance of his house, not its underlying character.
My goal is the same, more often than I would like to admit. Hidden beneath the white veneer, there are bricks stained red by sin. Here's the problem: I cannot remove them. I can cover them up, but I can't replace them.
But God can. "Sanctification" literally means "to be made holy." We are sanctified positionally when we make Christ our Lord: "You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11). By trusting in Jesus, we position ourselves to be transformed as the children of God (2 Corinthians 5:17).
However, we are also sanctified progressively as we walk with Jesus: "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).
How does progressive sanctification work?
First, admit that you need to be made more holy. Face the fact that the timbers of your house are termite-infested with sin, that your walls are stained with the mold of disobedience to God's word and will.
Second, ask the Master Carpenter to remove what you cannot. Invite the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind anything in your life that displeases God, and confess all that comes to your thoughts. Do this at the start of every day.
Third, invite the Spirit to take control of your attitudes, thoughts, words and actions (Ephesians 5:18). Ask him to manifest the character of Christ in you. Then stay submitted to him all through the day. When you face a decision, pray for his guidance. When you are tempted, pray for his strength. When you fail, pray for his forgiveness and restoration. Stay connected to the Source of your sanctification.
Fourth, believe that God is answering your prayer. You may not be able to see him at work, but he is. Sanctification is a lifelong process. Moment by moment and day by day, God is transforming your life "to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Romans 8:29).
When Michelangelo was asked how he created his magnificent statue of David, he explained that he saw David in the marble, then cut away everything that didn't look like him. Will you look more like Jesus today?
This article was originally posted here.