By Dustin Crowe
One of the things I enjoyed most about my previous job was the direct connection between how hard I worked and the results I saw. If I just put my head down and pushed hard I could get where I wanted. It was an independent role and I liked the fact that my production rested on no one’s shoulders but my own.
Much of my frustration in growing as a Christian is because sanctification isn’t exactly like my job. Yes, my effort does affect my growth but I can’t simply produce the desired outcome from my performance alone. I’m learning that while I certainly play a part in my maturity I can’t just will it through hard work. This has not only shaped my own spiritual formation but it changes how I encourage other believers. When a brother comes to me sharing a struggle with sin I realize I can’t just take him to the mat for not working hard enough but I must take him to the cross to rest in Christ’s work for him. I find many Christians genuinely desiring to grow but they end up throwing up their hands in discouragement saying, “I’m trying but things don’t seem to be changing.” I think as weary believers, we can go from feeling frustrated to feeling free as we take the yoke off our own backs and place it on Jesus.
Gospel-centered sanctification tethers becoming (growing) to being (identity) by making Christ’s accomplishments and provision for us the catalyst of our lives. Here are eight characteristics of gospel-centered sanctification that frame our theology of the doctrine while also steering our practice.
1. News, Not Advice
“And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” (1 Pet. 1:25)
The gospel is first and foremost an announcement. It is news about the historical events related to the life, death, and resurrection of the God-man Jesus. And it is good news because the objective events have personal significance; they are for us so we might be redeemed from our sin and reconciled to God. I do my brothers and sisters in Christ little good when I resort to offering sage advice, giving opinions, or dispensing the latest spiritual maxims.
For the gospel (and no shabby replacements) to remain the center, we must regularly remind one another of the good news of Jesus Christ. We retell this accomplished, objective, historical news and unpack the never-ending applications gushing from it. If the majority of my conversations sound like “you should try doing this or that” instead of “Jesus has already done this for you” then I’m headed out to the stormy sea of advice and opinion.
“Advice often masquerades as the gospel. Messages filled with advice to help people improve their lives or turn over a new leaf are in contradiction to the nature of the gospel—news we respond to, not insight we should consider heeding.” Also see: 1 Cor. 15:1-8; Eph. 1:13-14; Acts 15:6.
read the rest here.