Monday, June 4, 2012

Faith and the Dangers of Misfocused "Sanctification"

Faith is receptive.

Seriously.  That is what faith does.  It receives from God.  Faith hears.  Faith clings to Christ - that is faith grasps the gifts of God, it receives them.  The Christian faith is all about what Christ Jesus has done for you - He has died for you, He has risen for you, He lives for you.  You are forgiven.

"But" comes the call, "Now you must preach sanctification - you must preach about what the Christian is to do!"

That's not sanctification.

Nope.  If it is about what I do, it's not sanctification.  Sanctification is this - that God has made me Holy.  By the power of His Word, He has given me life, and He has given me my vocations -- He has pulled me out of all the things in the world that I might have been doing, and He has said, "Ah, here - I put you here".  He makes me holy, and in those vocations, in those callings which He has given me, He even works through me.  The love that He has given me, poured into to me overflows out of me and unto others.  And this is not my doing - it is His.

Note that.  If it is to be Sanctification, it must be about what God does... for God alone makes holy.

The danger is this.  We hear the Gospel, we hear what God has done... and then our old sinful flesh comes up, and under a veil of false holiness, false "niceness", we want to start talking all about what we do again.  Our sinful flesh wants to shift the focus off of Christ and back onto ourselves. 

That's the way of sin and death.  What do I do?  Well, I sin.  And even the "good" that I do... it's tainted with sin and selfishness.  And it all leads to death.  In me, of myself there is nothing good.

But in Christ, there is nothing but goodness and life.  And indeed, He is my righteousness and my life - indeed, as St. Paul says in Galatians 2:18-20: "For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

If I focus on what I go and in my wickedness call this "sanctification" I steal God's glory and am shown to be a transgressor.  No, the truth is this.  I have died, I have been crucified - and if there is anything good you think you see in me, you are actually seeing Christ who lives in me.  Indeed, on the last day, that will be all that there is to see.

Your life is Christ - it isn't yourself.  Do not be swayed by your flesh to make it about you again -- rather, receive the life that Christ gives.  You are forgiven, and you have life in Him. 

1 comment:

Myrtle said...

SIGH. I love the Gospel. This does not mean that I hate the Law. It means I understand that I simply cannot fulfill the Law...nor is God expecting me to do so.

I honestly find so much of the sanctification talk strange, because it simply does not fit with what our Confessions teach about original sin, faith, and the work of the Holy Spirit. But rather than fill your blog with Book of Concord quotes, I will merely say that I am thankful for the gentle reminder about our faith being receptive.

That is a great thought upon which to meditate throughout the week, considering how this truth permeates all aspects of our lives.

If faith is receptive, then....