As a runner, I realize that I cannot always run on flat, smooth pavement. Sometimes there are hills, and I know that the hills are good for me because they strengthen my muscles and they cause my endurance to grow. So instead of running away from these hills, I know that for my own good, I must discipline myself to run hills as fast and as often as I can.
Sanctification is the same thing. It's an uphill battle. Being refined by God requires uphill battles! But the wonderful thing is that God has not left us on our own to fight this fight. In a race, when you run with a partner, you are likely to get farther than if you were running by yourself. God has given us a body of believers to help us persevere and more importantly, a Savior who has already ran the race. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." -Hebrews 4:15-16
I've ran races that have weakened my body, blistered my feet, sprained my ankles, sickened my stomach....yet after each race I feel a sense of accomplishment. When temptations come our way, let us not give up and jump into sin, but let us get bloody, get bruised, be ridiculed, be persecuted.
God has promised new grace for us each day. And with each mountain that we climb, the more our endurance grows. God IS separating us from the world. This battle is going to be difficult because our flesh screams out at the denial of its own pleasures. But God has set His elect apart from the world. We are His own. We are losing ourselves to gain Jesus Christ!
I pray that with each temptation, we do not run away from the hills, but know that enduring will cause our endurance to grow. "Are there any soldiers here? Show me some scars before you talk about the power of sin! Don't show me your broken ankles at the bottom of the pit. I want to see blood!" -John Piper