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11.17.2005

Ponder, theologians of no-effort sanctification...



Homer understood the relation between individual effort and God's will.

'T is man's to fight,
but Heaven's to give success. - Homer
Alexander Pope trans. (Iliad, Book VI)

+ + +

Really, the question being debated in threads below regarding the role, if any, of effort in sanctification needs to be put in terms of will:

Self-will vs. God's will.

Once regenerated one is able to act from God's will.

It is, of course, difficult to see just how acting from will that is not self-will can even be accomplished. But this is the basic teaching of the Bible (and one of the hard, or difficult, truths and one of the subtle points that makes Calvinism what it is: biblical doctrine itself).

To act from God's will rather than from self-will is to act 'top-down' rather than 'carnal self upwards'.

It is to be commanded by God's will in a descending chain-of-command: God's will > intellect > emotion > actions/deeds, thoughts, words. It is a chain-of-command that is top-down starting with God's will. It is not slavery to God, by the way, it is you acting from what is natural to a person who is made in the image of God. God's will is your natural will, once regenerated. (It is the will of one who is a prophet, a priest, and a king.)

Yet self-will doesn't give up while you're still in the flesh. This is the effort part. The struggle.

Self-will wants to control in an opposite-to-the-above chain-of-command. Self-will's chain-of-command is an ascending chain-of-command that goes: physical desires and fears > emotion > thoughts/imagination > with nothing at the top but emptiness which is vanity.

Not all effort is or has to be self-will effort. Once regenerate you are ABLE to make efforts from God's will. This is the kind of effort that occurs in concert with the work of the Holy Spirit in you in progressive sanctification.

Practically, the way you act from God's will is to know what God's will is from the Word of God, and to be guided and illuminated by the Holy Spirit into deeper and more practical understanding of God's will. The Word of God is your standard, and the Spirit of Truth within you is your guide. (And, I'll add, it's a classic stumblingblock to reject all this because you think 'others' aren't regenerated or aren't 'able' to discern truth and for that reason it's 'dangerous'. When one even talks of sanctification one has to assume regeneration. If the subject frightens you so much that you refuse to even think about it my advice would be not to think about it and go to the Word of God and read it diligently and pray to God to send the Holy Spirit into your heart...)

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