God Will Continue His Refining Work in Us

From Foundations for Followers of Christ

by Alison Dellenbaugh on

Devotionals 3 min read
Philippians 1:6

…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Although we are made new in Christ at the moment of salvation, we are not complete in Christ until this life is over. In the meantime, God is at work in us to make us ever more like Him. As a sculptor molds a large piece of marble or clay, God refines and shapes us into His likeness.

This process, called sanctification, is largely the work of the Holy Spirit of God. Even though we are free from slavery to sin and newly able to choose behavior that pleases God (Romans 6), we are not immediately sinless. But when we do sin, the Holy Spirit is available to convict us and prompt us to repentance, and as we become more like Him, the urge to sin will be replaced more and more with a genuine desire to live in a way that honors God. We have already been forgiven, but as we confess our sins, our relationship with God in the here and now is restored.

As we continue to walk with Christ over time, yielding control of our lives to Him and surrendering to His will (Romans 12:1), His Spirit changes our hearts and causes us to grow in godliness, producing  the “fruit of the Spirit” in our lives as a byproduct. This “fruit” includes characteristics such as “love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23), which were once unnatural to us but should become more and more ingrained in us as we live according to our new natures.

While we can’t force fruit to grow in ourselves, we do have responsibility to share in the work by using our newfound freedom to obey Christ and to spend time in His presence and His Word, opening ourselves to the process of renovation. We are told in Philippians 2:12,work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” This does not mean we work for our salvation, which is already guaranteed; it means only that we live it out with reverence and the desire to do God’s will, as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and submit to His transforming work in our lives.

When we die, we will finally be complete and utterly free from sin—even our bodies will be renewed as eternal and glorious ones like Christ’s (Philippians 3:21). We will live in the presence of God forever, even reigning with Christ as co-heirs of the Kingdom of God (Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12). This is called glorification, and is fully the work of God.

But until that time comes, He continues working in us day by day, conforming us more and more to His image. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

About the Author

Alison Dellenbaugh (M.A. in Christian Leadership, Dallas Theological Seminary) is the Spiritual Formation Resource Manager at Central Bible Church and editor of the Next Step Disciple website.