Wretches in the Midst of Sanctification

Temptation is sneaky. It creeps up on you at the moment you least expect – but should have been expecting all along. 

We are so short-sighted. 

I had been taking small steps for a long time. Indulging myself in little things that didn’t seem important. They felt good because they were a way to escape my restlessness. They didn’t seem like a sin. They were just feelings.

But then, my flesh saw an opportunity – saw how weak I had been becoming – and struck. 

I failed the test.

We don’t realize how wicked we are ninety-nine percent of the time. But then you fall flat on your face, caught in the middle of a wretched act. You stand distraught in front of your rebellion. 

We are rebellious creatures. We desire worldly, sinful, dirty, lowly things. We look defiantly into the face of God and choose them over Him.

Yet we don’t see it. We think we are holy. We think we are righteous, good people. We compare ourselves with others and think we are doing better.

Down inside, we are all utterly rebellious and wretched. The sinfulness is always there, we just don’t notice it.

Why are we so self-righteous? That’s not what Jesus called us to be.

Jesus called the Pharisees white-washed tombs. Clean on the outside. Rotten on the inside.

 At times like this, it’s discouraging because I see my utter darkness and wonder if I’ll ever be sanctified. Jesus has promised to sanctify us in this life, to an extent, and then fully in the next. 

We are all being sanctified – but that doesn’t mean we are sanctified. 

Think about that.

Paul expresses his disgust at this paradigm in Romans 7:21-24:

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 

We want to serve Him, and yet our flesh doesn’t. Who will deliver us from our state?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:25)

Through Jesus Christ, although we are sinful and wretched, our sins are atoned for. We are washed clean, presented to God the Father as holy and blameless.

In His eyes, we are holy. 

What mercy!

So how do we deal with the sin that won’t be destroyed until our Savior returns? The more we notice our sin, I think that’s a sign that we are being increasingly sanctified. The older you get, the more you notice your sin. Perhaps it’s like getting closer to the blazing glory of God, and the closer you get you see your blemishes more clearly.

The sin is lessened, but it becomes increasingly visible.

And that is mercy as well. The more we notice our sin, the more we realize the vast distance between God and us. How far He had to go to save us. He had to lay down His own life – the most valuable thing in the universe.

When we are shown this monstrous contrast, we fall humbly before God’s feet, thanking Him for the work of His Son.

Because we are nothing, and He is everything. When we acknowledge that, we are free to live as what we are: wretches saved by the grace of God.

“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him”

Colossians 1:17-22

How Strong Are Our Words?

Hello friends! Today, I wanted to dive into the passage below (Matthew 12:33-37) and break it into pieces so we can study it more easily. This passage is rich and convicting, and I believe it has a message that we all need to hear.


“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

Jesus (Matthew 12:33-37)

1) The Tree Is Known By Its Fruit

If a tree is healthy, has clean water, plenty of sunshine, and it is far away from any sort of disease, the tree will produce healthy, juicy, fruit. If a tree is diseased, weak, and in a dry area, the fruit will subsequently be unripe, small and measly. It might get rotten before it even turns ripe. 

Suppose you had two pieces of fruit in your hand. One was large, brightly-colored, plump, and juicy. The other was smaller, hard, with bruised spots, and was a pale brown color. What would you infer about the trees they came from just from looking at the fruit?

Jesus is using a very simple picture to show people how the human heart works. 

I once watched an American Girl movie based in Colonial America. In one scene, the grandfather is talking to his granddaughter after the grandfather and father have gotten in a fight. The grandfather says, “Words of anger are never from the heart.” That’s what the world wants people to believe. But Jesus says something different.

2) Heart Fruit

If someone’s words are uplifting, encouraging, fun, wise, lovely, and admirable, that shows you what is in their heart. If someone is constantly encouraging and lifting others, it shows that they are humble and they care for others. If someone is wise and is constantly teaching others about God’s Word, it shows that they have God’s Word stored up in their hearts. If someone is fun and lovely in what they say, it shows that they treasure the beautiful, unexpected, joyful moments of life. 

If someone’s words are discouraging, dirty, rude, foolish, and repulsive, that gives you a very clear look into their heart. They discourage because they are proud or they are insecure in who they are and thus they try to put others down so they can feel high up. When they constantly make fun of someone they are doing the same thing. Their words are dirty and repulsive because they treasure sin. They are rude in their talk because they find themselves to be above the person they are addressing. They consider that person worthless. When their words are foolish, it means they haven’t stored up God’s Word in their heart. 

You may think, “Breanne, that’s way too harsh.” But I didn’t come up with it. Read the verse again. That’s what Jesus was getting at. 

3) Good Can’t Come From Evil

In verse 34, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees He is talking to. Although the Pharisees’ words seemed good, Jesus knew what their hearts looked like. Their hearts were evil. 

So even when they spoke “encouraging” or “good” words, their intentions and wants were self-exaltation, honor and self-righteousness. They wanted to do good so that they could be seen and known and respected. But Jesus said that that wasn’t “good”. 

4) Good Treasure

Whatever you treasure up in your heart, that’s what’ll come out. To treasure up means to hold or keep as precious. What is most precious to you? Your reputation, or God’s? Acceptance and praise, or God’s presence? The words of others, or God’s Word? 

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 

Psalm 119:11

The more we treasure and store up God’s word in our hearts, the more we pour out that treasure. When we give importance to something, it changes our actions. 

5) Accountable For Every Careless Word

When I read this passage, this is what got me. We will stand in front of God, and He will hold us accountable for every word. Those careless insults, those empty foolish mockery-filled words. He says we are accountable for them.

We will be condemned or justified because of them. 

The Hope

But wait, you might say, didn’t Jesus die for our sins? Yes! He did. Romans 8 verses 1 and 2 say this: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

If you are a believer, you will not be condemned. 

The Warning

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:1-2

However, we do not take grace for granted. If you are a believer, you should strive for purity, not trying to see how far you can bend the rules. 

If we are bearing bad fruit, we need to have a heart check. What are you treasuring? What are you deeming important? 


Disclaimer: I struggle with making fun of others because I am insecure in a certain situation, or putting people down because I think they are immature or “bad”. I care more about what others think than what God thinks, most of the time. Because what comes out comes first from the heart.


Some take away questions and thoughts to chew on:

When it comes to the words you speak, what areas do you struggle with? Do you tend to make fun of people? Or do you use crude language? Do you use your words to brag, and make yourself look bigger so everyone else feels a little bit smaller?

Why do you think you struggle in those areas? What sinful things are you treasuring or storing up in your heart? What are you prioritizing in your life, God, or something else?

What simple steps can you take to treasure the right things first? Remember, it’s the heart change that needs to happen first. What insecurities need to be addressed with God’s Word and His promises? What pride needs to be brought down when compared to the glory of the Maker of the universe? Memorize Scripture that addresses the heart issue, and meditate on that Scripture. Pray that God would change your heart and help you treasure the good and lovely.