By November 22, 2011 Max Out Blog

One of the biggest struggles young Christians face is the seemingly
impossible task of discovering God’s will for their lives.  I hear and see it all the time.  High School and college age students are
constantly questioning the direction of their lives.  Where should I attend college?  What should I study?  What sports do I play? What should I do when I
graduate?  Who should I marry?  The endless list of questions can drive us to
the brink of losing our minds!  Have you
been there?  I know I have!

The good news is that God gives us the answer.  There is one thing that is on God’s mind when
He considers His will for our lives.  1
Thess. 4:3 clearly says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…”  We tend to focus on all the specifics, and
God does have a specific will for our lives, but the most important issue is
our sanctification.  Sanctification
refers to our growth towards becoming more like Jesus.  Wayne Grudem defines sanctification this
way:  “Sanctification is a progressive
work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ
in our actual lives.”  That is God’s will
for you as a Christian.  Another way to
look at sanctification is that our goal in life is to be conformed more and
more to the image of Jesus Christ.

Let me pause to clarify the difference between sanctification and justification.  Very simply,
justification refers to our position
before God.  At the moment of your
conversion, you were justified in God’s sight.
This means that God thinks of ours sin as forgiven and Jesus Christ’s
righteousness as belonging to us and He also declares us to be righteous in his
sight.  Sanctification, however, refers
to our practice before God.  It is the ongoing process of fighting sin in
our lives and becoming more like Jesus.
We have to make sure to differentiate between these two truths,
otherwise we’ll tend to live performance-driven lives where we are trying to
earn justification.  Justification is
complete through God’s finished work on the cross and resurrection.  It is something he does.

So, how does this impact you as a Christian athlete?  Well, if God’s will for your entire life is
your sanctification, then God’s will for your athletic career is also your sanctification!  God uses every circumstance in your life,
including sports to make you more like His Son.

Knowing this truth, how do you practically grow in Christlikeness

through your sport?  We all know the
necessity of teamwork.  While we all have
a responsibility to contribute individually, true success cannot come unless
the entire team works together to accomplish the goal.  Our sanctification also can’t come on our
own.  The Bible clearly teaches that our
growth in Christ comes through the help of others.  Take Hebrews 10:24-25 for example, “And let
us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting
to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all
the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
It’s important to realize that the context is within the local
church.  God has given us the local body
of Christ to help contribute to our sanctification.  I love what RC Sproul says about this topic, “It
is both foolish and wicked to suppose that we will make much progress in
sanctification if we isolate ourselves from the visible church.  Indeed, it is commonplace to hear people
declare that they don’t need to unite with a church to be a Christian.  They claim that their devotion is personal
and private, not institutional or corporate.
This is not the testimony of the great saints of history; it is the
confession of fools.”


We are foolish to think that we can run the race of the
Christian life alone.  It is vital that
you attach yourself to a local church in your community.  But in principle, you might consider spending
more time with other Christians on your team.
One way we grow in Christ, is through accountability, encouragement,
rebuke, and correction from one another.
As you compete, hold one another accountable to honoring Jesus Christ in
competition.  Help each other grow in
your understanding of godly goals, motivation, audience, and winning.

In summary, God’s will for your life is to make you more
like His Son Jesus Christ and this is accomplished in part through the help of
other Christians.  As a Christian
athlete, have you isolated yourself from others or are you committed to
cultivating fellowship with others so that you can grow in

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read 1
    Thess. 4:3.  According to this verse,
    what is God’s will for your life?  How is
    this different than the way we usually define God’s will?
  2. Define and discuss the differences between
    sanctification and justification.
  3. How does God use sports to sanctify Christians?
  4. Why is it important to involve other people in
    our sanctification?  How can you do this
    in your area of competition?
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