Monday, April 27, 2015

Tightrope

"For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (Hebrews 10:14)

I've always loved how much truth is crammed into a single, short phrase like this one. It's by far my favourite "summary verse" when talking to people about sanctification (or, "growing up spiritually").
  1. It's a done deal -- Jesus has already made us "perfect forever". It doesn't rely on us and our performance.
  2. It's an ongoing process -- we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as we are "being made holy".
And to be fair, it can be something of a balancing act. I can see and appreciate how easy it would be to err on one side or the other (license versus legalism).

For example, if we were to only emphasize the first half of the verse -- that we are already considered "perfected" in the eyes of God -- we run the risk of:
  • complacency and/or laziness (personal holiness is optional)
  • a "party hearty" lifestyle that downplays sin and its effects (I see this a lot, unfortunately)
  • disinterest in any kind of mutual accountability (dude, isn't that just, like... judging?)
And on the other hand, if we only emphasized the second half -- that we are still a work-in-progress when it comes to personal holiness -- we run a different set of risks:
  • an unhealthy (and at times, somewhat neurotic) attitude of anxiously striving to "follow the rules"
  • wallowing in defeat/unable to enjoy God as Father (very common)
  • overzealous in attempts at accountability (legalistic nit-picking of self and others)
All of us have a tendency to lean too far in one direction or another, when it comes to issues of personal and community holiness. Keeping that all-important balance -- having complete confidence in Christ's finished work and in humility allowing the Spirit to refine our character to reflect Jesus more and more -- is not automatic by any means.
But it's worth pursuing.
In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest that a working definition of "spiritual maturity" should include our ability to hold both sides of Hebrews 10:14 in healthy tension/balance.

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