In the last post I wrote about the way my pride responds to the grace of God in justification. That is not the only truth of the gospel that my pride struggles with. The more I live knowing Jesus and his word, the more my pride reacts against sanctification as well.
First, what do I mean by sanctification? I am meaning the process of change that takes place in the life of a Christian where they become more and more like Jesus. By sanctification I am talking about a growth in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that takes place in the life of every believer and will be completed when we are with Christ (1 Jn 3:2).
Sanctification is another of those great truths of the gospel. It speaks of putting off the old sinful nature, that which so frustrates and hurts, and putting on a new Christ-like nature. It proclaims the truth that God is not only interested in dealing with the guilt of my sin, but also the presence of my sin and that one day I will no longer live with this endless struggle and with the endless destruction of a sinful heart.
Put this way I ask myself, "what is there to hate here?" Well, the thing my pride doesn't like is the constant reminder throughout the Bible that I need God for this change to take place. My pride loves commands such as, 'work out your salvation in fear and trembling' (Phil 2:12). "Great", it says, "I can take this, I can do this and then tell God how well I'm getting on." However, it doesn't like the next bit, 'for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose' (Phil 2:13). Just when I was about to take the glory the Bible robs me of it all.
We need to be careful not to misunderstand these verses. The presence of vs 13 is not an excuse not to take up the challenge of vs 12. Sanctification is not a divine 'zap while you sleep' process. What vs 13 does is remind us that we can take up the challenge of God's word with expectancy, even with all the evidence of failure behind us and the constant massive struggle within our own hearts, because God is at work in our hearts. Similarly, it is a reminder that as we look back at the change that has taken place in our lives the credit is not ours for the power was not ours. That's the bit my pride recoils from.
Just as my pride is desperate to claim some of the credit for a right standing before God, my pride wants to claim credit for the change in my life. I want to be able to say to God, "well okay, you saved me, but look at what I've done since. Just look at the work I've put in. Just look at what I've done for you." But I can't and that hurts my pride. It wants to talk about the fruits of Paul, not the fruits of the Spirit.
My pride doesn't want to be reminded that without Jesus I am nothing, and without Jesus I can do nothing that would bring honour to his name. I am weak, but I am thankful that he is strong and there is no limit to his power that is at work in me. I cannot rejoice in what I have done, but I can rejoice in what he has done in me and through me.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us Eph 3:20