I heard a story that put it this way. (This isn't a true story, by the way!)
Once upon a time, there was a poor homeless fellow living in a big city. One day, he committed a crime and was caught in the act. To his surprise, the president of the United States showed up and gave him a presidential pardon! The man was very surprised and grateful that the president cared enough to do that. Also, he was thankful for being spared punishment. To his further surprise, the president invited him to a dinner party at the White House! The poor man looked at his clothes and thought, "I can't go to the party 'till I get some clean clothes and look presentable."
This is how it is with Christians. We sinned and bore the guilt of those crimes against God. Then, the Lord met us in our need and forgave us of our guilt by paying for it Himself. Not only this, but He invited us to His home to stay forever. But we are not fit to go to such a place immediately. We need to get "cleaned up" or sanctified.
Sanctification is not achieved by doing "good deeds" or "making up for" our sin. No, it is a walk we begin with our Lord where we ask Him to reveal our sin. Then, we can ask for His forgiveness and power to overcome the influence of those sins. As we do this, He washes our souls clean. There is no end to the process, either. As long as we live here on this earth we will be surrounded by sin and tempted by it. That doesn't mean that we should give up. We ought to seek sanctification as a goal in life. After all, that is the goal God has for us! His goal is that we be conformed to the image of His Son, the perfect and blameless Lamb.
I am really looking forward to beginning an active and regular time of introspection and prayer for this purpose. I want to be ready for the Lord when He returns. This coming Wednesday night, we'll discuss how we can do this. I am eager to get started. I know that there is a lot left in me that needs to be dealt with. In some ways, I am afraid to begin this walk, since it will be very challenging and revealing. But the Lord who I seek is kind. He is gentle and caring and will be right beside me through it all. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He will use this for good - for my beauty and for His glory. Amen :)
I plan to post about the discussion this Wednesday. They'll be reviewing a checklist that lists the different aspects of our lives to reflect on and some methods for meditation. It should be interesting!