It is God who sanctifies


It is another Sunday. I shuffle into Church and I am exhausted from a week of work. To be honest I wish I could have stayed home and slept. We started the service and I heard the call to worship, it was fine and then we sang a song. As our Elder walked up the stairs to the stage to read the law, I became apprehensive. He read it and I knew it, the old feeling came back again, I had failed. The law did what it should have done, it slayed me, it exposed my sin. I was, once again, confronted with my inability to keep God’s law perfectly and I knew that I was in trouble.

We sang a song of confession, and then it happened, the most life-giving part of the service to me, when my Pastor pronounces absolution on the congregation. The reason the absolution is so important is because it points me away from myself. I know that the Holy Spirit is in me and is changing me to be more like Jesus, but I also know that no matter how good I am, I cannot live up to God’s holy standard. All my good works are “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). And while I affirm that God isn’t displeased with my attempts, I am still reminded that they are never good enough to earn God’s love.

God is so kind though, He knew from fall of Adam and Eve and the institution of the Sabbath in Israel that we would be faced with these types of fears. Does God love us, has he given up on us?

It wasn’t until just the other day that read this passage from Exodus 31,

And the Lord said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.”’ (ESV)

God spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites, ‘Above all, keep my Sabbaths, the sign between me and you, generation after generation, to keep the knowledge alive that I am the God who makes you holy.”’ (The Message)

Do you see it? It is God who sanctifies us, it is God who makes us holy. And Sunday after Sunday he has set this rhythm of life to remind his people of his work. What do we do? We show up, in our various states of joy, sadness, excitement and frustration and God shows up to remind us through his minister that he is at work in us, forgiving us and making us holy. God does this as a sign of his faithfulness to his covenant promise.

I heard the absolution, the sermon and then received Christ in the Supper. It was then that I could enter my Sabbath and rest from my toil.