For Mature Christians Only

I once had a pastor tell me the sign of a mature Christian was the ability to hold on to two seemingly contradictory concepts without becoming an extremist in either direction.

I think he was on to something.

Let me give you an example.

I know people who counsel others in sin that their chief problem is not their conduct but that they don’t fully understand the Gospel or the love Jesus.

They use phrases like “understanding who you are in Jesus” and that “the battle is already won.”  The counselors are well-meaning; they are trying to deal with what they perceive as the root of the problem rather than the symptom.

Of course sin is both the root and the symptom, and while loving Jesus more may make you less prone to sin, focusing on not sinning will definitely make you less likely to sin.

The Apostle Paul made it clear that the process of sanctification is as we say in the law a joint venture. Paul said to work out your salvation (sanctification) with fear and trembling because it is God who is at work in you according to His purposes and good pleasure. There is you and there is the Holy Spirit, and for this process to work as God intended both should be involved.

In other words, you should understand who you are in Jesus, that you are a new creation, and you should expect the Holy Spirit to give you power over sin and draw on that power. At the same time you should strive and work to live holy and righteous. It is the combination of the two that brings about the supernatural result of sanctification. And it is the mature Christian who can grasp both without being pulled in either direction. GS