How Does Sanctification Work? by David Powlison, Free for CAPC Members
David Powlison dispels the myth that there is a “key to sanctification” and then lays the biblical groundwork for spiritual growth.
This morning President Obama signs historic healthcare legislation into law. A lot of people are not happy about this. Many decry this as the end of America, others as the end of time. I thought we had until 2012? Either way, I’m not a prophet or a poli-sci major so I wouldn’t know for sure. I have noticed many Christians are at maximum freak out levels. I would like to provide some helpful reflective thoughts for your consideration. Thank you.
Since “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18) a measure of our distance from God is how fearful we are. The church is in bed with fear and would spend most nights alone if not for her company. We would never sell our souls to the Devil, but then he would never be so forward. He invests in us as we nurse our worries and gradually he becomes our primary stockholder. His controlling stake allows that he move us in directions we would not otherwise go.
Fear is an issue at the personal and family levels within the church, however these are symptomatic of wide-scale problems at the institutional level. Our methodologies are often rooted in the septic soil of fear. We are known for our scare tactics to get people “in the door” and our use of shame to discourage discussion and dissent. Fear drives us not to love our enemies, but to neglect them. When afraid we fail to engage the world. Instead, we camp out in front of our TVs soaking up the bad news: unruly weather, criminal activity, political corruption, and impending doom. We listen to “My Redeemer Lives” on repeat but find the idea fantastical. And why not? All signs point to no. When fear is our only language, we can’t read any other signs.
“There are so many wonderful things in life to be afraid of, if you just learn how scary they are!” The Tale of Despereaux
I’ve not been above the frenzy. I’ve managed a slew of my own faith-based fears over the years. There was that distasteful notion that I might have to go to strange continents and love people and share the gospel. You could get killed doing that. A rigid interpretation of biblical prophecy cast world leaders as antichrists, false prophets, and Babylonian whores. That was enough to induce agoraphobia though thankfully it did not. For years, I wrestled with uncertainty about my salvation. This was not on any scriptural grounds, only as response to that eternal nag “What if you’re wrong?” Though these are not wholly illegitimate fears, they are illegitimate in that they do not account for God’s provision. They have robbed me of joy and effectiveness and because of them I have been anxious about the future. Why do I give fear so much power? Is it Lord of me?
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)
In comic books, the distressed damsel stresses very little. When she’s been captured by the villain and her life is threatened, she remains calm and attests that her hero will arrive to rescue her. Without fail he shows up, detains the bad guys, unties her, cracks a lame joke, and disarms the explosives before it’s too late. Where is our faith that we do not react to adversity with a peace as assured? Faith is an informed optimism, not an ignorant one. Christians are not permitted to close their eyes tightly and hope it all goes away. If we do not keep up with world events it will seem that we are hopeful only because we do not know any better. When everything around us dies and we are next in line, our steady faith offers understated testimony of a God whose “perfect love drives out fear.”
The world is fearful without our help. Is the sky falling? Yes, but do we really need one more person to point out the obvious? The part of Chicken Little has been occupied. 6 billion frightened voices announce their anxieties. We need voices of reason. Cable news programs of left and right angles proliferate fear by affirming those anxieties. Why shouldn’t they? Fear sells as well as sex does. They even make fear sound sexy. They sell it as “justifiable concerns” under the guise of “taking action” and “being prepared.”
The gospel of Christ, however, is not a sales pitch. It is not an industry which relies on profit to continue its endeavors. It is no less than a free offer to be rid of worry.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”(1 Peter 5:6-7)
For as low as $5/month, you’ll get access to free offerings from creators and authors we love, exclusive access to our member’s only forum, and exclusive content and podcasts — and you’ll help ensure that CAPC keeps getting better and better.