Basketball, Justification, and Sanctification

Devotion about Justification and Sanctification for our Middle School Students

Acts 2:32-33

32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. 33 Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.

The year was 1985, the town was Greenfield, IN. The gym has ugly green tile, orange nets on the rims, red blocks on the backboard, hard wooden bleachers, and I can still smell the gym to this day. It smelled of old pine and sweaty gym shoes. We were playing a team from Greenfield that we had beaten once already. This was a winner takes all final game for the Indiana Elementary School State Championships. We were down by one with six seconds on the clock. Our best player, Damon Lewis, gets great position after a shot goes up and grabs the rebound. Even as the other team had two guys pulling Damon to the floor he let the ball go and it rolled around on the rim as the clock wound down. Damon was big, even in the 5th grade, he was bigger than everyone else. His Sr Year he was 6’4 1/2 and weighed 325lbs. Damon played on our state champion Men’s basketball High School Team in 1992 and was an All-State Football player and top 100 player in the country for football. He was an athlete. As the ball rolled around on the rim, I sat and watched, having fouled out just two minutes prior, and all I could think about was the hours or wisdom and practice that was poured out to us by our coach. As the clock hit zero and the ball fell through the net unfiltered joy filled my soul as I raced onto the floor to tackle Damon. I then looked around for someone to hug and share my joy with. For years, even now at 45 years old, I have told this story and can still experience some of the same emotions. I was at my mother’s home this past month and found the new clippings from that game. I still smell the gym.

What does this have to do with the justification and sanctification? I think a lot of us as Christians today are running around and trying to make shots without having the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit poured out into our lives. We do things on instinct or natural ability. I know without a doubt we don’t win that title without the hours of practice and wisdom our coaches put us through. Yes, Damon was a physical marvel. Yes, he was talented, but without the wisdom put into his life by others, he doesn’t put himself into the proper spot on the floor to get the rebound that helps him put that ball back up and in for the win.

We as Christ followers have to have the grace that comes from the sacrifice of Jesus to be able to be justified through faith. The fact that Jesus died for us and justified our sins through his death makes us champions. Without the sacrifice our coaches made for us everyday to be there for us, there is not championship. Jesus was our champion before we were champions.

Without the the power of the Holy Spirit through the death of Jesus on the cross, there is no sanctification. There is not idea that our will can be bent towards that will of Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the hours of practice, without the wisdom of our coaches, without our teammates working together, there is not championship.

Justification is the forgiveness of our sin based on what Jesus did and not us. Championships are won and lost by what five players do and not just myself.

Sanctification is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives, bending our will to the will of God. Championships are won because we bend our will to the game plan of the team.

1. Pray that Jesus would reveal anything in you that you haven’t yielded to him.

2. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom beyond your own.

3. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the gifts that She wants to activate in your life.

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