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Spiritual Growth - My Job or God's?

Whose job is spiritual growth? Psychologists say one of the primary causes of conflict in households involves dispute over what's generally called division of labor. If the bed goes unmade, if the dishes go unwashed, if the diaper goes unchanged, who is responsible for getting the job done?

Many households have never had a calm, rational discussion about who is best equipped to take out the garbage or take the kids to school. In the end, lots of things don't get done because each person in the relationship thinks the other one is really responsible.

Tonight we're talking about the doctrine of sanctification, which is related to the word holy, hagios. The gospel, of course, is not just that we'll go to heaven when we die; the gospel is the offer of life in God's kingdom. God's plan is that his image in us, which was marred by the Fall, should be restored in all of its beauty and glory. Sanctification will take place for God's children.

But for many Christians there is confusion about the division of labor as it relates to spiritual growth or sanctification. They ask, "Is it God's job, or is it mine?"

Some Christians have taken the position that sanctification is solely God's job, and they say, "I can't do anything at all." To support their position, they cite verses like Romans 7:18 where Paul says, "I know nothing good dwells within me, that is in my flesh. I can will right, but I can't do it." Citing verses like these, they say human action is futile. Some Christians object to any call for strenuous effort or costly following by saying that human effort is opposed to grace.

I talked with a pastor recently who said that at his church any time he talks about costly discipleship, sacrifice, or obedience, a large number of the ...

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John Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

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Sermon Outline:


Whose job is sanctification and spiritual growth?

I. Sanctification is a joint project between us and God.

II. Sanctification is normative, not optional.

III. Sanctification is a painstaking process.

IV. Sanctification is empowered by God, not by man.

V. Sanctification should be pursued for the sake of others.