Set Apart to the Dance

Originally posted on The Way CA blog at https://thewayca.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/set-apart-to-the-dance/. Be sure to visit and check out some of my friend Ben’s material there as well!

Ever heard of the word sanctification? It’s a big fancy word that basically means “set apart.” Many people also explain that it’s an idea of being set apart from one thing and set apart to another. This is the essence of the term “holiness.” After all is said and done, I like to say that sanctification is a dance made complete by our participation.

“The Dance” of sanctification is never done. It was never intended to be either. The Dance isn’t measured by how far along you are, but by whether or not you’re willing to dance. It’s less like a letter grade on an exam and more like a pass/fail sort of thing, and if you’re willing to dance, you’re passing.

The Dance is between you and Jesus and if you’re not willing to participate, the Dance isn’t happening, it’s not complete, it’s not perfect. We may have our internal struggles about how the Dance takes place and we might even trip while trying to execute the moves. There will always be a process of maturing and that’s okay. However, while there is a process of maturing in our ability to dance, actually Dancing is not that process.

The Dance is all about living fully present with the Spirit of God inside of us convicting us, teaching us, comforting us, wooing us. It’s about messing up and repenting, matching our steps up with His to jump back in. It’s the experience of God’s holiness in us and our agreement to express His holiness through us. It’s about our willingness to say “yes” rather than our capacity to sustain it.

We can never arrive at a place where God no longer needs to sanctify us because sanctification isn’t something that you can build and then leave alone to remain in tact. It’s something that exists or emerges by nature of being in the presence and service of another. What’s maybe even more important however is that God can’t help but sanctify the people He hangs around. It’s His nature to sanctify.

Let’s take a look at one of my favorite verses, Hebrews 10:14:

  • “For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy.” (NET)
  • “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (NASB)
  • “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (ESV)

There’s a LOT we could talk about in this verse, but I just want to look at the end, the part on sanctification. Rather than jump through a bunch of intellectual hoops (which we definitely could) I want to take a linguistic shortcut and rewrite this verse by putting the verb at the end into the active voice: “For by one offering he has perfected for all time those He has made and is making holy.”

By re-writing the verse this way, it’s a lot clearer that this verse is making a beautiful statement about God being a God who sanctifies. Holiness is a continual experience because God has been and still is involved in it. His nature is unchanging because He has sanctified before and still sanctifies today.

Is God making you holy right now? If so, that’s good news because this verse says that anyone who is being made holy is covered by Jesus’ sacrifice. Anyone who is learning the steps of the Dance, participating in the never-ending movement and growth, is perfect in God’s eyes.

One of the most beautiful aspects of this to me is that the moment of “now” is always a new moment which we have to sanctify with God. According to the eyes of experience, the present moment is always a new moment that is filled with God’s sanctifying presence because of His Spirit in us. If He were to ever change, then there could potentially be a moment in the future where we would no longer be sanctified; but because He never changes, we are always sanctified.

As I said earlier, the entry price of Dance itself is not about our process of growth but our willingness to say “yes.” It is an ongoing experience of the result of something that is fully complete. In Hebrews 10:14, we read that the finished work of Jesus on the cross defines everyone who says “yes.” Jesus’ sacrifice was the creation of this Dance and it continually flavors our relationship with perfect love. As we Dance through different seasons of life, we experience how holiness reacts with and shapes different parts of our lives that weren’t touched by the Dance before. We begin to say “yes” with every inch of our hearts and come into a perfect awareness of our already perfect reality.

Thankfully, a “perfect reality” doesn’t mean that we never mess up, but that we stay in connection with the Holy Spirit through thick and thin. It’s about our ability to participate rather than the level of our participation. It means that we keep our gaze focused on the fact that at all times and in every way it’s all about Jesus.

I leave you now with this summarizing thought from the brilliant Graham Cooke:

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