In recent posts, we talked about discipline and self denial as commonly practiced within “the church”.
All of these practices are based on a popular presumption about how to please God.
The Problem with Sanctification
Yes, we are saved by faith. And, no, we do not merit salvation.
Yet believers still have a problem with understanding how they accomplish or achieve sanctification.
Or with just understanding what sanctification really is.
The problem is in our thinking. In our presumption that God is impressed with our efforts.
That He is impressed with our self discipline. With our self denial. And with a million and one other things that we do to control ourselves.
Our problem lies with the value we place in our own good intentions when compared with the value of God’s holiness.
Various Methods Toward Perfection
Actually, when you think about it, most of the clashes we have with other believers is over our view of sanctification. Or what we believe is the way to be pure and clean before the Lord.
One group thinks that focusing on holiness is the way to do this. And so they pull out all the stops to accomplish this in their lives. Creating great and impressive lists of things to do and not to do; and then monitoring how carefully others are following that same list.
Others think that physical separation from error is the way to do this. And so they end up alone in the wilderness after separating from all others that don’t do and think the way they do.
I’ll bet this whole social-distancing, corona-virus thing is really taking all the fun out of that whole method!
Others think that love is the way to please God. And so, they focus on showing love to each other as the means to please God. And basically end up joining up with just about everyone around to demonstrate their love and tolerance.
And, consequently, sacrifice truth and doctrine to accomplish this.
And others, just take the popular middle-of-the-road position. Thinking themselves more reasonable and thoughtful than the rest for considering all sides. And so, end up being like the Laodicean church in Revelation.
Becoming a “lukewarm” church. Or, in other words, not pleasing to God.
The Great Presumption
At the heart of it all, there is this incredible misconception of our own goodness.
We just don’t see the infinite gulf that stretches out between God’s holiness and our own supposed goodness. Even though we understand this in relation to salvation, we somehow think that this vast chasm is traversed by our own efforts and good intentions — now that we are believers.
And, therefore, think that God is impressed by the disciplines we subject ourselves to.
Not realizing that the only thing God is impressed with is His Son.
With the righteousness of His Son. The holiness of His Son. The will of His Son.
The Will of God
Yes, the will of Christ.
Which takes us back to a passage in Hebrews that refers to a promise from Genesis. “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will O God…” (Hebrews 10: 7-10)
This has to do with Jesus Christ coming to do the Father’s will. And with Christ fulfilling the prophecy to carry out that will (Genesis 3:15). To fulfill a promise made by God in the very beginning of the Bible.
A promise made by Jesus Christ, the Creator. Which shows the authority and accuracy of Genesis from the beginning. Which is the Record that God gave of His Son.
(That “Record” note is simply a reminder that the Bible, from the very beginning, is true. And it is all about Jesus Christ — even in the book of Genesis)
In Hebrews it says, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” This is an often-overlooked statement. Yet it is such an amazing statement.
This is not talking about our will to achieve our own sanctification. This is about the will of Jesus Christ whose purpose was to fulfill the will of His Father.
This is something we could not do. It is something we cannot equal. It is something we cannot add anything to.
Resting Upon His Finished Work
And that is the critical point.
Because that is what the religions of this world actually teach. Who give lip service to the benefits of the Lord’s death on the cross, but are unwilling to rest upon that work.
They try to ADD to the work of Christ. Which is to say that it is not sufficient in and of itself.
Today, as I write this, it is Wednesday. I believe it was Wednesday when the Lord was crucified; not Friday as religious tradition says.
I’m thinking of what the Lord endured for us. When the full wrath of God was poured out upon the soul of the Lord Jesus.
When we think of this in the next few days, consider that we are gazing upon a miracle that we could never achieve.
This is solely about the glory of the Lord. About His surpassing goodness and His surpassing love toward us.
How we love Him because He first loved us.
This is all about His Finished and Completed Work that we are meant to rely and rest upon completely in our new life in Christ.
To Be Continued . . .