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Billy Graham tells the following story: “I have a friend who during the Depression lost his job, a fortune, a wife, and a home. But he tenaciously held to his faith—the only thing he had left. One day he stopped to watch some men doing stonework on a huge church. One of them was chiseling a triangular piece of stone. “What are you going to do with that?” asked my friend. The workman said, “See that little opening away up there near the spire? Well, I’m shaping this down here, so it will fit in up there.” Tears filled the eyes of my friend as he walked away, for it seemed that God had spoken through the workman to explain his ordeal through which he was passing, “I’m shaping you down here, so you’ll fit in up there.”1
The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8, “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Christ at the cross has done the amazing work of salvation for His people. He did this because of His love. But Christ didn’t go through the work of coming to earth, living perfectly, suffering on the cross, dying, being raised from the dead, and ascending into heaven, just to go sit at the right hand of the Father and take a break! Paul continues in Ephesians to tell us that our salvation produces a lifelong change in us. He says in verses 9-10 that, “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” In that same way as Billy Graham’s friend, God is shaping us down here, so that we will fit up there. He is preparing us for eternity with Him.
Christ has blessed us with the gift of the Holy Spirit to be a helper to us. And the beautiful thing is that because of the work of Christ in us through redemption, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, we can be fully confident that Jesus is molding us each and every day to be more like Himself, and less like our former selves in sin. This is called our sanctification. Galatians 2:20 tells us, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” The life we live is a hard, but blessed pursuit of our Savior.
In this study, our goal is to walk through many different themes of our sanctification. Each week will aim to get students into the scriptures to better understand what life in Christ is all about. This study can be used in your large group, small groups, or for individual study.
Each theme begins with a brief introduction section with quotes from various writers, pastors, and great thinkers of the Christian faith, where students will be asked to rephrase what was said in their own words. This is purposefully done to get the students to start connecting what other godly people have said about sanctification and how it connects to the biblical truths that we will study together. Each lesson also includes application questions, a brief summary, other helpful passages, and a weekly challenge to give students something to do during the week to apply the lessons. Adapt any part of this study as you see fit within the context of your churches. I would encourage you to give illustrations and examples to help communicate the various themes.
Whether you are a student, parent, volunteer, staff member, or pastor, my hopes and prayers are that this study will be a benefit to you. If you are doing this for individual study, I pray for your growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). If you are using this in a small group setting, I pray that your groups would be encouraged to stir one another up to good works (Hebrews 10:24). If you are adapting this for a large group setting, I pray that your declaration of the Word to your students would become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:16).
And to all, I pray Paul’s appeal to the church in Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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.” May the Lord bless you, and keep you in your study of sanctification.
Grace & Peace,
Andrew “Tree” Triolo
1Graham, Billy. “Billy Graham Daily Devotion: Molding You.” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, n.d. https://billygraham.org/devotion/molding-you/.
© Reformed Youth Ministries