“‘Well,’ said John, ‘I suppose you have found me out. Perhaps I did not fully mean to keep them-not all- or not all the time. And yet, in a way, I think I did. It is like a thorn in your finger, sir. You know when you set about taking it out yourself-you mean to get it out- you know it will hurt- and it does hurt- but somehow it is not very serious business- well, I suppose, because you feel that you always could stop if it was very bad. Not that you intend to stop. But it is a very different thing to hold your hand out to a surgeon to be hurt as much as he thinks fit. And at his speed.’ The Man laughed. ‘I see you understand me very well,’ He said, ‘but the great thing is to get the thorn out.’ And then He went away.”- C.S Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress.
“I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.”- Hosea 14:4.
In a wonderful passage in C.S Lewis’ The Pilgrim’s Regress, we have John, the main character, confronted by an anonymous Man, signified by Lewis as Christ. They converse over keeping the rules of the Landlord, and John finds within himself a desire to keep them but not a relentless fervency for them. He yearns for holiness and purity but does not have the passion to carry it out.
It is true of ourselves as Christians, that we find within a “desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out,” (Romans 7:18). If left to our own devices and schemes, holiness and purity would be attempted again and again, but we would constantly give it up for it is painful, slow, and difficult. But the Lord loves His people far too much to leave holiness, purity, and sanctification up to them. It is true we attempt change with vigor and honesty. Sincerity causes us to get up in the morning to spend time in His word, to turn our eyes from the things of this world to the Glorious God-head, and to pursue holiness with all that we can muster. But sincerity just isn’t enough to change us. We are weak and intolerant of much pain. We would much rather take the easy quick “fix” of sin and disaster than the slow, deep cleansing process of transformation. But He has not left us to do anything on our own as His people. He has provided us with His Spirit because of the blood of Christ to kill our sin and remake us into the image of Jesus. And He is committed to it. He is committed to us. Sanctification, the past, present, and future parts of being made into the image of Christ, is in the hands of our Great God, who loves us and is faithful to us. It is true that He uses our faculties, our efforts, and our sincerity to aid in our transformation, but He is the Relentless Surgeon who will not stop when we are tired, will not ease up on His knife when the pain strikes us, and who will accomplish all that He has begun in us. We are in safe hands.