Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Does Sanctification Come Through Experiences?

The following is based on the article 

Is Christian journaling good or bad? Is it a 'spiritual discipline'? Is it part of 'spiritual formation'?

From the blog, "The End Time."

            In her article, Elizabeth discusses the unbiblical practice of “journaling” as a mysticist endeavor to ‘allow God to speak to you,’ etc etc. She makes repeated (true) statements about sanctification that I wanted to reflect on for myself. She says that sanctification doesn’t come from something you do, or an experience you have, it comes from outside yourself—from God. Definitely true. But I think I need to be more specific and say that, logically speaking, God surely can use material/temporal conditions to effect sanctification. Just as God works through the Christian witness to reach the Lost, God can (meaning two things: He isn’t required, and He is able to) work through our thoughts, actions and life experiences to sanctify us. Thought experiment: if we were to reject that idea in totality, it would imply that our interaction with God is completely divorced from physical reality. But none of us exist in a void. We see, we feel, we experience things and think about them. What do we pray about if not other people, ourselves, and God’s kingdom—all things which are only contemplatable through our personal experiences with external stimuli? How do we experience spiritual personal growth if we do not have a real world to measure our development against? We don’t exist apart from everything else; we are intimately connected with the world we live in and we are definitely both affected by things that happen in it, and can effect things to happen in it. But note, this is distinct from those things being inherently sanctifying themselves. Can God use a tough personal trial to sanctify you? Absolutely. Can a person go through a tough personal experience and experience no sanctification whatsoever? Definitely. So what’s the difference between whether you can be sanctified through a given experience/thing, or not? It is God, and only God. This is consistent with the Biblical truth that God can use evil things for good. The evil things are not good, and they do not benefit you spiritually (sanctify you). GOD, however, can operate sovereignly through evil and accomplish sanctification in spite of it. Thus, my holistic summary of sanctification is that we as individuals are certainly able to be influenced by our environment, and even our own thoughts, but whether these things will produce a positive spiritual result or merely a temporary mental/physical one depends utterly on to what extent the Holy Spirit is involved in them. The conclusion, then, is to always pray that God will use the things that you do, think, and experience every day to grow you spiritually and sanctify your soul. You will always have interactions with the material world in this life. Why allow for the possibility of unsanctifying experiences? Ask God to ensure that the things that happen to you will be 100% for your good, and that He prevent the occurrence of things that are detrimental to your spiritual growth, even if that involves something in your thoughts. Then you can go about your day with confidence, knowing that God is intimately ‘ordering your steps,’ and making every possible opportunity into a learning experience.  

I think I’ve agreed with Elizabeth’s view as summed up by this statement she makes: “But doing journaling or not doing journaling doesn't hinder or help the Lord's Providential working in our lives.” 

Final thought from the Bible: Philippians 2:12-13: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.” 

~ Rak Chazak

I figured I would addend to the bottom, here, a relevant article by John MacArthur that was just recently posted. -- The Apparent Paradox of Sanctification

"The truth is that sanctification is God’s work, but He performs it through the diligent self-discipline and righteous pursuits of His people, not in spite of them. God’s sovereign work does not absolve believers from the need for obedience; it means their obedience is itself a Spirit-empowered work of God."

No comments:

Post a Comment