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To Be….or Not To Be

By: Caleb Camp

We are called human be-ings.  The funny thing is, when we communicate with others we often talk about all of our “doings”.  Think about the last time you introduced yourself to somebody new.  What types of questions did you ask each other?  I bet one them was connected to “DOING”.  What do you do?  What are you doing now?  What’s your job?  In fact, if you ask most people to tell you “who” they are, they are likely to answer with “what” they do. For whatever reason, we seem to attach more significance to the “DOING”.  Certain jobs, certain positions and certain incomes command our attention and respect.

However, this isn’t supposed to be how the Kingdom of God works.  It’s exactly the opposite.  We’re called to “BE”, and then we’re called to “DO”.  “BEING” is the result of what God has done in us and “DOING” is what we work out of us in response.

Very often though, we get caught up in one of these and neglect the other.  This creates an imbalance in our faith.

When I get caught up in only “BEING”, I can use grace to justify and overlook things that I should or shouldn’t be doing.  When I get caught up in “DOING”, I lose sight of who I am, and I fall into the trap of legalism and religion.  The life of a those who follow Jesus, is balanced between the two.  We can see this in Philippians 2:12-13 where Paul is addressing the Philippian church:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:12-13 ESV

This verse says that God is working in us, and that salvation is our own, that we possess it.  That is what God has worked in us.  We are Saved.  That is the “BEING”.  The “DOING”, is what we do with it, the working out of our salvation in daily life.  Maybe it could say, “Apply your salvation to every part of your life, with respect and reverence for God who is.  In other words, working out (DOING) what He has already worked within.”

There is a healthy tension between “BEING” and “DOING”, and between faith and works:

“But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” – James 2:18 ESV

Why is this important?  Because the same balance between “BEING” and “DOING” is in many aspects of our faith.

  • In Christ, we ARE holy
  • In Christ, we ARE righteous
  • In Christ, we ARE sons and daughters
  • In Christ, we ARE purified
  • In Christ, we ARE sanctified

These are the result of God working within us, the result of drawing and reconciling us to Himself, so that we can have relationship with Him.  And it is within the confines of relationship, that these truths about our “BEING” are reinforced.  As we stay within the boundaries of this relationship, we believe these things more and more and they impact how we see and think about ourselves.  We ARE these things because of what He has worked within us.

But there is more.  Our “DOING” springs from our “BEING”.

  • In Christ we ARE holy, and because he has made us holy, we are to “DO” holiness
  • In Christ we ARE righteous, and because he has made us righteous, we are to “DO” righteousness
  • In Christ, we ARE sons and daughters, and because he’s made us sons and daughters, we are to “DO” life like a son and daughter
  • In Christ we ARE purified, and because he has purified us, we are to “DO” purity
  • In Christ we ARE sanctified, and because he has sanctified us, we are to “DO” sanctification

You see where I’m going with this?  For many of the things that He’s made us “BE”, He asks us to “DO” something in response.  We’re not doing these things just to do them, and we’re not doing them to earn salvation That would be legalism and religiosity.  We’re doing them because in each of these things, we have an active part to play.

It all really boils down to sanctification.  Sanctification means to be set apart and made holy for special use.  The Greek word used for the Church in the New Testament, ecclesia, means set apart ones.

Holiness, righteousness and purity are all part of sanctification. God desires these things for us.  If we attempt to “DO” it, in order to “BE” it, we’ll be frustrated.  But, the more we “DO” it, the more we’ll settle into “BEING” it.

God has a very specific purpose for the sanctification process.  First, sanctification positions us for intimacy!  And Second, sanctification conforms us into the image of Christ!

Do you know that God wants you to be conformed to the image of His Son?

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” – Romans 8:29 ESV

I want you to think about that word, conformed.  It means to be fashioned into the likeness of another.  God’s plan is for us to be changed, transformed and morphed so that we can become Christlike.  He does not want us to be conformed to the image of this world, or anything else for that matter.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 ESV

Don’t let the world push, pull, bend and stretch you into its image!  Instead embrace sanctification and be conformed to the image of Christ.

When was the last time you woke up and asked Holy Spirit to fill you so that you could pursue sanctification and Christlikeness in your life?

For me, years ago I entered into a season where, in the pursuit of expressing my freedom in Christ, I quit pursuing Christlikeness.  In pursuit of expressing my freedom in Christ, I was dancing on the edge of sin and destruction.  I was actually pursuing an image of MYSELF, that was free in Christ.  And in the process, I created idols and placed them into the temple of my heart.  Eventually, I slipped on the edge and fell into sin.

Sometimes it feels like, at least in much of the western church, that we think expressing our freedom means that we can be conformed to the world, but in Christ!  In other words, because I’m “in Christ”, I am free to pursue the things of the world.  But that doesn’t leave us set apart….instead it leaves us indistinguishable.

So, what can we do?  Well, to quote Reinhard Bonnke, “Christ will lift you out of the pit you’re in, but he will not lift you out of your recliner!”

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV

The writer of Hebrews wants us to throw off more than sin….he says to throw off everything that hinders us!  Have you ever asked Holy Spirit to show you what things might be hindering your conformity process?  If you do ask, be prepared, because it will mean that you’re going to have choices to make: choices to deny ourselves some things, choices to set aside things that are permissible, because we know they’re not beneficial.  This is how we surrender and position ourselves into the courtyard of God’s presence where sanctification happens.

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4 ESV

“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20 ESV

Back to Hebrews 12, a bit later in the chapter, the writer says that if we don’t receive discipline from the Lord, we are illegitimate children.  If we don’t submit ourselves to Him and surrender our ways to Him, then we are illegitimate children.  I don’t know about you, but I prefer to be a son!

In verses 10 and 11 he continues to talk about discipline, noting how nobody really likes it, but highlighting its value:

“For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:10-11 ESV

Did you know, there are over 1000 commands in the New Testament, many of which directly relate to what we’re talking about today?  Flee this…, don’t do that…, keep away from…stay sober…etc.

Outside of relationship and outside of God’s presence, these commands only have the potential of turning us into legalist or religious Pharisees.  But within the confines of God’s presence and our relationship with Him, they are His discipline and they train us to be His sons and daughters.  These commands are here for a reason, we can’t ignore them.

I’m not preaching works, legalism or religion here: I’m preaching holiness, righteousness and purity…I’m preaching sanctification.  He wants us to jump into the sanctification process, willing and eager to let Him have His way in us.  Sanctification actually produces the freedom we all want.

Let me close with a prayer from Paul from

1 Thessalonians 5:22-23 – “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

Diving headlong into the sanctification process is the surest way to solidify who we are, the surest way to understand the “BEING” part of ourselves.  And once that is secure, the “DOING” flows freely and is life giving.  Dive in and BE!