Sanctification and Sunshine

About a week ago I did a few posts on sanctification and trees. Came across another gem relating sanctification to sunlight.

“But the path of the righteous
is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter
until full day.”

As the righteous man goes through life, his life progressively shines brighter and brighter, as the day grows to the full heat of afternoon. To stay in perpetual dawn is not natural, doesn’t happen in nature nor in spiritual growth.

Being a baby your whole life is weird. If a grown man came into your house crying and wearing a diaper you’d be scared out of your mind. So to should we be repulsed by those who have “been in the faith” for years and years and yet have made no progress.

The apostle Paul says we should keep pressing forward. He was not content with his growth and wanted to know Christ more, to have fellowship even with His sufferings, that he would know resurrection power.

Most of us are content to have gotten out of hell, so we stop, tip-toe through some tulips and chill. Might show a fault with the initial understanding of saving faith; might just show you’re lazy. Either way: GROW.

6 thoughts on “Sanctification and Sunshine”

  1. Where is the breakdown in this process? If, at the point of salvation, you become inhabited by the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t you be drawn toward deeper understanding and spiritual maturity? Shouldn’t that now be your very nature? Just as a child can’t help but grow taller, isn’t it in the nature of a Christian to grow deeper in love with Christ? This amazing thing has been given to you, how can you not be held in awe of it every day?

    The salvation ball, so to speak, is entirely in God’s court. There are parts of Scripture that seem to imply that the sanctification ball is at least partly in our court. Would the apathetic response of many Christians imply that the process is almost entirely in our hands (leaving aside the possibility that they were never saved in the first place, as your post seems directed to people who already saved)?

  2. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

    James 4:8

  3. If you spoke that verse to someone who was “tip-toeing through the tulips and chilling,” they might not know how it applies to their comfortable predicament. “I’m already drawing near to God. I go to church! I tithe! I pray!”

    The problem in this arena is that there are two beasts on either side: legalism and antinomianism. The breed of antinomianism isn’t so much one that makes a person think they’re free to murder, cheat, and steal, but instead, that they’re free to ignore their Bibles and nitty-gritty, difficult, wonderful relationship-building service. We know if we turn our back on those things, we’re in the wrong, but we can’t prescribe reading your Bible for an hour each night, or some other “rule.” That’s legalism.

    In the name of fighting against legalism, no Christian has the right to say to any other Christian, “You should be working harder,” or “Study,” or “Persevere!” Even though Paul may have said similar things in his letters, it’s taboo to encourage one another in this way now. Thus, when I attend a small group, and the topic arises, several people might say, “I KNOW I should read my Bible more often. I feel so bad about ignoring it,” and we swim in communal guilt for a few minutes before passing on to some other conversation. If anyone were to respond, “Yes, you should be reading your Bible more often.” and proceed to remind their brother (in a loving manner) exactly on whom they’re turning their back each day, I think that would end poorly for the entire small group. What right do YOU have to tell ME how I should build my relationship with the Lord?

    What do you think?

  4. I hear ya. As you say, there are dangers with extremes. I have a strong aversion to the idea that I am not supposed to tell people to pursue good works. As you say, Paul says it and he says it frequently, and I don’t think I am wrong to say it either. As a pastor, I take heed to Paul’s words to Titus–remind ours also to maintain good works. The job of a spiritual teacher is to preach the word in season and out, reprove, rebuke and exhort with all authority. Paul does not prescribe “preach the word, reprove, rebuke or exhort with self-conscious wondering if you shoudl really tell them what to do or not.”

    At the same time, I am not to establish arbitrary rules–“if you do what I say I know you’re right with God.” I can tell them to do what the Word says though and, in fact, I will be held accountable if I do not warn them what the word says. Legalism is teaching the traditions of men as the doctrines of God. Telling people to do what God’s Word says is not legalism, it’s merely the teaching of the Word.

  5. I see what you’re saying. I’m not a pastor, but I still wonder where we draw the line with this sort of teaching. Jesus was always able to see beyond the farcical questions Pharisees and other people threw at him and responded to their true intention. Can we not somehow do the same?

    So you command people to pray, study the Word, serve, etc, based on sound Biblical doctrine. But how much prayer? How much study? How much service? Surely if I pray 30 seconds a day before dinner, that is not enough. But you can’t say that an hour would be any better. And if I serve by mowing the church’s lawn each week, how can you keep me from feeling complacent about that hour I devote – that I should strive to serve even more? If I’m always just randomly opening to Psalms before bed, reading a few verses, and then nodding off, I’m virtually protected against anyone who commands, “Study the Word of God,” because that’s what I do! Right?

    So, having said all that, I imagine it would be easier to command someone to do something they don’t do at all, rather than command them to improve upon what they’re already doing, at least within this Christian context. They can use their current “righteous” acts to justify themselves against improvement, because the Bible doesn’t quantify our righteous acts.

    EXCEPT. Good fruit vs. bad fruit. But that’s an entirely different conversation, and can be used as a means by which we rain down judgment on our brothers and sisters in Christ: “Ah, what good fruit have you yielded this week? You need to spend more time in prayer.” Those verses were perhaps meant for self-assessment, but it’s that level of self-assessment that the people I described earlier will not perform.

  6. People are very good at justifying themselves. The fact that someone listens or does not listen to God’s Word, whether by my involvement with saying it or not, is not my fault. I think of Ezekiel where he says his job is to give the warning, whether people respond to the warning is their problem.If Ezekiel does not give the warning then it’s his problem.

    I refrain from giving a measurable standard because I think the Bible refrains from that too. The standard Scripture uses is always perfection! Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. This has nothing to do with minutes or time served. Christ is our standard, not the pastor.

    Bottom line: I teach what I think Scripture says and I cover that teaching with much prayer before and after that the Spirit is using that Word to convict men and lead them into the perfect man Christ Jesus. God gives the increase; I merely can plant and water. My concern is to be sure I plant and water more than I am concerned with the increase or lack thereof.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: