When we as believers speak of spiritual formation, we are, of course, talking about our sanctification, viz., how we are transformed by God’s grace from sinners to saints in the totality of our lives. This transformation of necessity includes an ongoing repentance from all that is still presently sinful about us.
While repentance is a good work, it only gets us so far. Soon, I hope to have my house painted. The painter is going to begin the job by cleaning up the outside of the house: hosing and scraping and getting rid of the old stuff on it. But cleaning the house is only the preparatory work. The goal is to get the house newly painted. And so it is, our focus in sanctification is not so much getting rid of our sin as it is putting on the new man as Paul speaks in Ephesians 3:24.
A morbid preoccupation with what’s wrong with us will short-circuit our sanctification. Rather, as we read in Hebrews 12, our habit is to lay aside our weights and our sins that beset us and run with patience the race before us, – not looking at our sins and weaknesses, but – looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (vs. 1,2). Paul says the same kind of thing in Philippians 3, ” … this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (vs. 13-14).
In the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Aslan finishes confronting Edmund privately about his sin, he introduces Edmund to the rest of his family with the words, “Here is your brother … and – there is no need to talk to him about what is past” (p. 118; The Complete Chronicles of Narnia, Harper, 1998). No, the job now was to learn to become good kings and queens of Narnia and get rid of that witch.
Please note that the content and viewpoints of Rev. Beckmann are his own and are not necessarily those of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. We have not edited his writing in any substantial way and have permission from him to post his content.
The Rev. David Beckmann has for many years been involved in both the Church and education. He helped to start a Christian school in South Carolina, tutored homeschoolers, and has been adjunct faculty for both Covenant College and the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. He founded the C.S. Lewis Society of Chattanooga in 2005. He has spoken extensively on C.S Lewis, and was the Director of the C.S Lewis Study Centre at The Kilns from 2014-2015. He is currently a Regional Representative for the C.S. Lewis Foundation in Chattanooga.