In a small but powerful booklet titled The Deeper Life, Robert Murray McCheyne, a Scottish pastor and author who died at the age of twenty-nine in 1843, addresses one obstacle to growing in sanctification (the progressive formation of Christ within us): doubt as to the power of God to really sanctify us and free us from the power of sin. “I am often tempted to say, ‘How can this Man save me? How can Christ in Heaven deliver me from lusts which I feel raging in me, and nets I feel enclosing me?’ This is the father of lies again! For Jesus ‘is able to save unto the uttermost’ (Hebrews 7:25).”
The antidote to the lie, McCheyne says, is to grow in grace, chiefly through prayer. “I am persuaded that nothing is thriving in my soul unless it is growing,” he observes. We must desire to be more like Christ, and we “ought to strive for more purity, humility, meekness, patience under suffering, and love. ‘Make me Christ-like in all things,’ should be my constant prayer. Fill me with the Holy Spirit.”
“True holiness is Christ in us, the hope of glory,” McCheyne reminds us, and this reality is birthed and sustained in prayer. “When God gives grace to souls, it is in answer to the prayers of His children.”
Let us remember and emulate the zeal for purity and holiness exhibited by saints like McCheyne, and commit to a deeper pursuit of a sanctified life founded upon the pillars of prayer, understanding, resolve, and engagement.