“Put your nose to the grindstone”
“Pull yourself up from the bootstraps”
We may have heard these phrases when we were in school from our teachers or our parents. They were attempting to get more “out of” us. For most kids, this doesn’t work, because they are already trying as hard as they can.
As we grow into adulthood, however, there is no one looking over our shoulder to “keep us in line”. In a sense, we are free.
For me, this began in college. At first, I screwed around and didn’t put much effort into my studies. Eventually, though, I went out of state and really excelled at the university I was attending. I was internally motivated to succeed.
It’s rewarding to get good grades.
There are many people who believe that the Christian life operates on the same principle. If I do X, then I am living like a Christian and being sanctified. If I don’t, then I am not being sanctified.
Only one problem … it is a rejection of Jesus Christ.
One of the things I tell people when I discuss this topic is that if your work sanctifies you, then you are stealing the glory from Jesus who is the “author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
Here is why I reject the idea of self-sanctification:
1. It is anthropocentric at its core. That is, it rejects Christ’s work in favor of my own. This is also idolatrous.
2. It is antinomian. This means, a person who uses the commands of Scripture to sanctify themselves is actually minimizing the depth of God’s Law.
3. It is a return to R.C. beliefs on infusion of righteousness.
4. It falsely divides Justification from Sanctification (two big “churchy” words). I will quote from Gerhard Forde who wrote that sanctification is “the art of getting used to . . . justification.”
But, most Christians will not prefer this answer. They would rather go to their church for the purpose of self-improvement. They want to have something to do. They become their own Holy Spirit, and their own “project”.
This is called “being curved in on oneself”
At the end of Matthew, we see two groups at the end before the Throne of Christ. Here is the interaction He has with the righteous ones:
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Were they aware or unaware of their works? Were these works the effort of private morality, or public service?
So, at this point, you have a choice. Is the Christian life a “DIY” thing, or is it a “He does it all” thing”?
I believe the latter. Why? Because He is the Author and Perfecter of faith, and He will not share His glory with anyone. I am His work, from start to finish. You are too, whether you believe it or not.