- - Endorsed
- - Indifferent
- - Contested
|The Nashville Statement
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
| Sanctification - Done Right.
|I followed a link from David Kjos's blog the other day (www.ThirstyTheologian.com), over to the Gospel Coalition's blog (www.thegospelcoalition.org). The link was to Justin Taylor's corner of the blog, and the article in particular was provocatively titled, in the Puritan tradition, How Do I Know If I'm Mortifying Sin by the Law or by the Gospel?. Here Mr. Taylor listed the eight subject headings from a sermon given by the Puritan Ralph Erskine, outlining the difference between  attempting to put sin to death by the strength of your own might (and therefore as an act of theologically confused piety), and  actually mortifying the body of sin (i.e. living in a way that denies the desires of the body of sin) according to the gospel (c.f. Matthew 1:21). He provided a link to the sermon, (which if you want to read it can be found at the linked article above), that pointed to a web site I had been to many times in the past. It is there that we find, in full, a book written by the Puritan Walter Marshall entitled, "The Gospel Mystery Of Sanctification" - a book I consider a -must- read for anyone serious about their own sanctification.
I meet far too many believers who are adrift theologically, and subsequently (inevitably?) spiritually as well - at least in regards to their sanctification. These are not pursuing sanctification in any systematic way, but are sort of attempting to be sanctified in reactionary fits of guilt and effort.
Now, as it happened, after I had studied the sermon, with much nodding and humming, I received an email from a fellow I had had the privilege of counseling in the past, and in the course of this email, I was able to see an immediate need for the passing along of this information. But rather than just link to the original sermon, I rewrote and expanded it a little, and sent it off, with some other encouragements, and that would have been the end of it, except I decided that I ought to post something today. So, because I spent a bit of time on this already, I decided I would simply post that rehash. So here it is, taken from a much longer email, and tweaked it bit for Internet consumption:
It is a good and proper thing to try and live without sin, but there are two ways by which a man may attempt such a thing, and these two ways differ themselves on eight important points. What we are talking about, when we talk about "trying not to sin" is "putting sin to death" in our lives - what the Puritans called, "mortifying sin". The two ways can be described as the  right way, versus the wrong way, or if you prefer, the  spiritual versus the carnal, or again, the  gospel way versus the law way.
I mentioned eight ways in which these two approaches differ (and I am borrowing heavily from the writings of the Puritan Ralph Erskine, as I do so), they are, briefly:  the principles from which they proceed,  the weapons with which they fight against sin,  what they are trying to mortify (put to death),  the reason they imagine they must fight sin in their life,  The motive behind their fighting with sin,  the nature of their mortification,  the extent they are willing to go in battling sin, and finally  the success of their efforts.
Hereafter I will follow Erskine's map, as it were, and compare the two paths on these eight points, to give some direction to your struggle against sin, so that, being informed, you might understand that pursuing a deliverance from sin according to the flesh, not only will be difficult and painful, it will always and ultimately be useless and never work anyway.
. Two Different Sets of Principles behind efforts to stop sinning
The Right/Spiritual/Effective/Gospel Principles:
Romans 8:13 says, "for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
The first principle therefore regarding your efforts to put sin to death in your life, is that you must do so by the Spirit of God.
Acts 15:9 says, "and He [i.e. The Holy Spirit] made no distinction between us [Jews] and them [Gentiles], cleansing their hearts by faith." (I added the parenthetical parts to help you keep the verse in context in your thinking).
The second principle therefore, regarding your efforts to put sin to death in your life is that the death of sin flows out of faith.
In 2 Corinthians 5:14 we read, "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;"
Thus the third principle behind your efforts to be put sin to death in your life is that you are constrained to do so by the love that Jesus has for you.
According to the gospel of Jesus, according to the teaching we find in the new testament, your efforts must be founded upon these principles, that you overcome sin by the Spirit of God, by Faith, and because of the love that Jesus has for you. This is the stream from which your sanctification is supposed to flow. Do you notice that each of these principles finds its origin in God? By the Spirit, in faith (faith is a gift), according to Christ's love for us?
Who is doing the work here, according to scripture? God is. It is plainly stated, of course, in Philippians 2:13, where we read, "for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." - but these principles are foundational - God is at work - we must have, as a foundational understanding the certainty that God is at work in us, that we overcome sin through the Holy Spirit, by faith, and because of Christ's love for us. The work is being driven by God, and that, because of His love for us.
Any effort to battle sin that is ignorant of this truth, or sets it aside in favor of some other way, is poisoned at the outset.
The Wrong/Carnal/ineffective/Legal Principles:
Consider the efforts of the Pharisees in Christ's day. Even though they were ungodly poseurs, they sincerely struggled to overcome sin in their life, but they were doing so in order to satisfy some false presumptions.
First they regarded holiness as something you attained by what you did, rather than where you heart was. You could hate God with all your heart, but if you were keeping yourself from sinning externally, you were a holy man, and God Himself had to honor that holiness. Thus they regarded one's adherence to obeying the letter of the law as a source of comparison amongst themselves. So and so kept the law better than such and such, therefore so and so was more worthy of respect and praise. As this was the case, the praise and applause of men became a primary foundation for any effort to be sinless - as though God had set up the rules, as it were, in order for men to rise above other men, comparing themselves amongst themselves to see who was most worthy. They strove to free themselves from sin in order that they might have the best reputation amongst their peers.
Consider Paul before his conversion - he was zealous for the law of God, suppressing sin in his life, not for the sake of God's glory, not out of thankfulness, or desire to see God exalted - but out of a desire to excel at being a Jew. After his conversion, Paul counted all his efforts to be a godly man as rubbish.
Again, consider those who, from a natural conscience, find sin distasteful, even as they commit it, and so offend their conscience, desire to have their conscience clean, and so, regardless of whether there is a God in heaven, are willing to battle sin just to be free from the guilt of it.
Again, consider those who see others battling sin, and because they associate themselves with these others, are inclined, for the sake of retaining a favorable opinion of themselves, or of fitting into the group, strive against the sin in their life so that they may present themselves acceptable to one another.
Again, consider how some have a common motion of the Spirit, and believe that if they do so and so, God will reward them with such and such. They want to, say, do miracles, or see some tangible, spiritual phenomenon, and believe that in order to have this gift or this experience, they need to be free from sin, so they pursue the putting to death of sin in their life in order that they might achieve or attain to some place whereby they can personally produce or manipulate a spiritual phenomenon.
Again, many times the very principle that they try to be free from one sin is to protect another. Consider the man who, in the company of other believers, sees a lusty image of a scantily clad woman, and though his heart longs to drink in her image with her eyes, and would otherwise linger thus, yet because he doesn't want to appear a sinner in the eyes of his companions, he forsakes the sin of lust in order to satisfy the sin of pride over one's reputation.
The first difference therefore between the right and wrong way to put sin to death in your life, is in the principles upon which your efforts rest or are derived from.
The second difference, is in the weapons that are employed to put sin to death in your life.
The Right/Spiritual/Effective/Gospel Weapons:
The gospel believer fights to put sin to death in his life using the grace's weapons, namely: [a] the blood of Christ, [b] the word of God, [c] the promises of the covenant, and [d] the virtue of Christ's death and cross.
The Blood of Christ: Not the red fluid, but as the scriptures teach, the blood represents the life that was spent in its shedding, such that the first weapon the Christian has in fighting sin is the life that Christ spent on his behalf. It isn't that the Christian recites some sort of mantra or spell that invokes the "blood of Christ" as is common, I suppose, in some neo-cultic churches (plead the blood!), that is, we do not overcome some temptation to sin by verbally (or even silently and prayerfully) invoking the "blood of Christ" as some sort of ward against sinning. It is rather that we do not attempt to overcome sin from the perspective of one who is alienated from God, such that failure to overcomes sin means we have offended God, and are cast out by God, and have to do something extra to be reconciled again to God - for if that were our weapon, then it would work against us rather than for us, sin there is no one who does not sin. We regard it therefore, the work of Christ on our behalf, reconciling us to God, as a strong tower that we run into, as it were, when the guilt of our sin would turn us away from God. Being certain that God is for us, and not against us, will be our strength when sin gets the best of us.
The Word of God: In putting sin to death in our life, we must not rely upon our experiences or even our expectations of what a successful battle against sin looks like, rather we must depend upon what God has said in His word to guide us in our efforts, and in the certainty of His work in them.
The Promises of The new covenant: That is, the promise of the gospel, that Jesus came to save His people from their sin (Matthew 1:21); the promise of reconciliation in Christ, the promise of acceptance in Christ, and the promise that God is at work in us, etc.
The virtue of Christ's death on the cross: In Galatians 6:14 we read, "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Here Paul speaks of the death of Christ as being that which crucifies him (Paul) to the world (i.e. following the sinful practice of 'those who are in the world'). Scripture here tells us that Paul was able to put the sins of his earthly life to death by virtue of Christ having been crucified in Paul's stead.
You see that the weapons of our warfare, are not carnal (things that we do to try and stop sinning), but spiritual. We do not, and cannot produce or purchase success in our efforts by human effort, it must come through relying on what God has done for us. We -will not- draw near to God in truth, so long as we depend upon our own righteousness to make a way for us to do so. We must set that carnal mind set aside, and trust in what God has already done - which is exactly what the scripture teach us.
The Wrong/Carnal/ineffective/Legal Weapons:
The man who is trying to fight sin in order to satisfy some requirement of righteousness does so by appealing to both the promises and the threatenings of the law; Again, he may well look to his own willpower and resolution as a weapon to be used in putting sin to death.
The promises: They battle against sin because they believe, deep down, that doing so (keeping the law as it were) will guarantee them (or at least give them a better chance at obtaining) eternal life. They put sin to death in their life in the hope that by doing so they will win a place in heaven.
The threatenings: They rail against the sin in their life because they have concluded that unless they do, they will certainly go to hell and be damned when and should, they die.
Human Resolve: They have kept themselves from some particular sin now for a whole month! Thus they resolve within themselves that they will not destroy this winning streak by giving into the same sin today. The temptation comes, small or great, and this one looks to his own resolve to deliver him out of it.
Thirdly, they are trying to put to death two entirely different things.
The Right/Spiritual/Effective/Gospel thing they are putting to death:
Both the Spiritual approach, and the carnal approach attempt to put sin to death, but what they mean by "sin" is different. Carnal man is concerned with those individual sins that plague his rest. He sees himself committing sins and regards these sins as marks against his worthiness, such that if he could eliminate all marks, he could set himself before God as worthy. The Spiritual man however knows that even if he could keep himself from all sin, yet the problem is not in what he does, but who he is - he wants to sin, he desires sin, and this because he is corrupt. The spiritual man understands that the sins we commit flow from the well of our own corruption, such that even should we suppress all sin, we will have done nothing to overcome the true problem - our corruption.
Thus the spiritual man does not set about to mortify the sins that he commits, rather he is concerned with mortifying that which is corrupt within him - he is concerned with putting to death what scripture describes (c.f. Romans 6:6) as the "body of sin" - that is, he is not trying to kill the sins, but kill the corruption, and this by denying the desires of the flesh.
The spiritual man understands that he personally has no power to deliver himself from this body of death (c.f. Romans 7:24), that only Christ can so deliver him - and so he is not focused on cleaning the oil that spills from the well of his soul, as though he would be clean if he actually got rid of it all, but rather he is concerned with the burst pipe of sin - the fount from which all the oil of his sin is flowing (to use a present day example). He battles against, that is, he is working to mortify, himself - that is who the spiritual man chooses to deny. That is cleaning the inside of the cup, as opposed to merely cleaning the outside.
The Wrong/Carnal/ineffective/Legal thing they are putting to death:
The legalist's quarrel is more especially with the sins committed in his day to day life. Instead of battling the king who continues to send the troops against him, this one simply makes war with those troops he meets on the field. They continue to come, and he continues to war against them, never dealing with the root problem.
Fourthly, they differ in the reasons for their participation in the struggle:
The Right/Spiritual/Effective/Gospel reason for their participation in the struggle:
The reason the spiritual man seeks to make war against the corruption in his flesh is because he sees that it  dishonors the God who is saving him,  opposes the work of Jesus Christ on earth, and  grieves the Holy Spirit within Him whom he received as the guarantee of his reconciliation.
Because sin dishonors God: The man who is reconciled to God through Christ, does not produce or retain this reconciliation through or by putting sin to death in his life. This one therefore sees sin in his life as dishonoring the great work that God has wrought in him. He sees that he has been given a great gift, and desires to honor that gift in honoring the giver of that gift.
Because sin opposes Christ: The man who is reconciled to God through Christ, likewise sees that sin opposes that great work that Christ is doing in himself, so that he sees the need to put sin to death, in order to stop opposing that good work that is being done in himself by Christ. He sees sin as that which wrought havoc in his life, by virtue of it marring and barring the work that Christ is presently and continually doing in our life. He sees that allowing sin to continue to oppose this work, is really working against his own peace and joy, and so he takes up his arm against sin in order that Christ's work might not be hindered in him, and have its greatest effect.
Because sin grieves the Holy Spirit: The man who, being reconciled to God through Christ, knows that he has received the Holy Spirit as a guarantee (as if the reception of the Holy Spirit was the first payment of many to prove that the rest was coming) of those things God has promised the believer. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to assist us here and now, in our sanctification (hence the "Holy" Spirit). The believer therefore recognizes the ministry of the Holy Spirit as doing the work of separating the believer from the thing that is destroying the believer: personal corruption (the body of sin). Since the believer understands that this corruption of self, left to its own, will continue unchecked in influencing the believer to sin, and thereby impede the work of God in His life - a work that his very soul desire be accomplished, the believer inclines himself to resist that which the Holy Spirit convicts him is sinful, and embrace and pursue that which the Holy Spirit convicts him is righteous. He knows that sin not only impedes this work but grieves the one who is working it - the Holy Spirit.
The Wrong/Carnal/ineffective/Legal reason for their participation in the struggle:
The carnal believer is willing to battle sin in his life because sin breaks his peace, troubles his conscience, and has, according to his understanding, the power to hurt him personally.
Because sin breaks his peace: The carnal believer is upset by the guilt of sin, and desiring to be out from under this guilt, is willing to strive against it in the hope of living without the constant fear and feeling of condemnation.
Because sin troubles his conscience: The legal believer's conscience tells him that he is a sinner, and the condemnation that flows both from this fear, and the incorrect theology that drives it, is sufficient to weigh upon the believer's conscience. In order to alleviate this constant nagging, the legal believer is willing to satisfy the requirements of the law, and thereby (theoretically at least) slay the guilt of his sin.
Because sin hurts him by bringing wrath and judgment on him: These are all just the same flavor, hashed out differently really - but the wrong reason to be in the struggle against sin is because you are afraid of God's wrath and judgment. God's wrath and judgment was poured out on Christ, there isn't any left for those who are in Christ. The only people who are right to fear God's wrath and judgment are those who are not in Christ. Thus the believer who finds himself willing to battle sin on the grounds that if he doesn't he will face God's wrath, neither understands the gospel rightly, nor sanctification rightly. He is willing to battle sin, because he believes it is in his best (eternal) interest to do so.
The fifth difference between those who put sin to death in the right way, and those who attempt to do so wrongly is in the motives behind their fight, and in the expected end of their effort.
The Right/Spiritual/Effective/Gospel motives:
The spiritually dependant believer will not serve sin because he is alive to God and dead to sin. He loves God, and is motivated by that love, and this because he is certain already (because scripture teaches this to be true) that God loves him, and even loved him while he was yet unconverted.
Motive: Alive to God: The spiritual believer understands that it is the desire of the Holy Spirit within himself, passed along to the believer through our union with Christ, to be at peace with God. This does not flow from our own flesh, but is ours through our union with Christ. We are "alive" to the things of God, through the Holy Spirit. It isn't that our flesh desires to be righteous, for it has no such, nor can it produce such, a desire. We are motivated spiritually, therefore, to overcome the sin in our live. Said another way - God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, motivates us to put sin to death in our lives, and this by sharing His own desire for that very thing with our own heart - so that we feel his desire as though it were our own (knowing that no such desire can rise up out of our corrupt flesh).
Motive: Dead to sin: The spiritual believer recognizes that if we are united together with Christ in His death and resurrection, and if Christ himself was dead to sin - then the life of Christ which is within every believer is itself dead to sin, so that we are motivated to allow the life of Christ to live within us, rather than our own corrupt desires to dictate our actions, patiently depending on the thought that as we allow this life to manifest itself in us, the victory over sin that is inherent in this life, will begin to manifest itself in our daily living.
The believer who approaches putting sin to death by trusting in the work God has done, that is, by apply the good news that God has already made it possible for them, this same believer will be motivated by the life of Christ within them to pursue the magnification of Christ's life within them - a pursuit that necessarily includes denying the flesh (putting to death the deeds of the flesh).
The Wrong/Carnal/ineffective/Legal motives:
The carnal believer tries to deny sin in order that he might make it possible for God to love him.
Motive:His hope is that by doing such and such, or not doing so and so, he will incline God's affection for himself, by which he imagines himself to become a partaker of what scripture says God has already given him.
This one is driven, primarily by personal experience. He wants a sign or wonder to prove what God has said, and is motivated by the hope that enough effort will eventually produce a sign.
Naturally this is an extremely dangerous and flawed notion, because since it cannot succeed, the one who pursues it will typically invent something that looks like success, and thereafter pursue this false success, to their own detriment, since it never brings them closer to God, but is really and empty form of religion.
Sixthly, their understanding of the nature of their mortification of sin is different.
The Wrong/Carnal/ineffective/Legal nature:
The legalist may oppose sin, but deep down, he will not pursue the utter destruction of self will. He will not surrender utter control of his life to God, because he reserves the "right" to do whatever he wants.
Thus the legalist wants to pacify God by not sinning, and in this way, he deceives himself, for he believes that he has found a way to avoid the Lordship of Christ - and this by satisfying whatever expectations (short of surrender) are placed upon him. He is willing to mortify sin -instead of- surrender his whole being to God. He is willing to put individual sins to death -instead of- eternally and finally and thoroughly humbling himself before God, so that he will do the will of God without hesitation or question. He is willing to battle individual sins instead, even though it is pointless to do so from a rebellious heart.
The Right/Spiritual/Effective/Gospel nature:
The spiritual believer, having a nature and principle contrary to sin, seeks not only to have sin weakened, but eradicated. His quarrel is irreconcilable; no terms of accommodation or agreement; no league with sin is allowed, for he will not suffer himself to be a hypocrite in this matter. He is determined to make war with that which assaults him, that which would cause him to deny Christ's reign in favor of its own reign.
The seventh is similar to the sixth in that these two paths differ in regard to how far they are willing to go when it comes to putting sin to death in their lives.
How far will the Right/Spiritual/Effective/Gospel believer go?
The spiritual believer is willing to go all the way, both objectively and subjectively
Objectively: The spiritual believer truly hates every false way, and will not suffer himself to pursue a way he knows to be false.
Subjectively: Everything that makes up that which is regenerate in the believer, screams in unison against sin. It isn't fakery or hopeful thinking, it is the nature of that life which was placed within the believer in the moment of their justification - the moment they were saved from sin.
The spiritual believer will not make peace with sin, though he may, through error or misinformation pursue for a season some false way, and flounder thereby, yet even in this the spiritual believer will not be satisfied in sin, but continue to pursue its demise in his life. Corruption will never be long be tolerated, for the struggle is driven by the new life within, a life that is Christ's, a life that will not expire, and will not surrender, and will not fail. Thus the spiritual believer is willing to make war against sin forever - it is perhaps easier to describe it in the negative - the spiritual believer will never be satisfied until sin is eradicated, and this because God within Him will never be satisfied thus.
How far will the Wrong/Carnal/ineffective/Legal go?
The hypocrite or legalist; is willing to spare some sin or other, and willing to allow some rebellion to remain nested at the core of his being, for his opposition to sin is carnal, not spiritual. He does not truly wish for sin to be eradicated, rather he desires that the condemnation of sin be removed from himself, and so he labors against sin in order to be free from condemnation, he has no desire for God, but desires to pacify him by his efforts. His heart continues to approve sin, even as he rails against it in order to save his own hide. His opposition to sin is at best, short lived and shallow. He gladly dispenses of that which is of greatest hindrance to his peace, like a man who is satisfied having cleared a small, relatively clean place for himself to sit in a barn full of manure. He has no desire to clean the barn out, for he likes the manure, but for the sake of some girl whom he would woo, he is willing to wash his clothes, and keep the common areas of his barn clean in the hope that she might be charmed by his effort, and meet him there.
The hypocrite will not persevere, for he is not truly at war with the corruption within him, rather he is at war with the condemnation against him, and his efforts are not to put to death that which deserves to die, but rather to preserve it through pacifying the judgment against it.
Finally, these different paths differ in their success.
The Wrong/Carnal/ineffective/Legal path ends in perpetual failure.
The carnalist, the legalist, the ineffective man, with his wrong approach to putting the sins of his body to death, will always fail to do what he has set out to do. He is not fighting the disease, but hoping to suppress it's symptoms, so that even if it were possible to suppress them fully, the body would still be as sick as when it began, only more comfortably so. But it is not possible. For what looks like a victory on the left, only opens another breach on the right. For all the effort, the hypocritical, carnal, legal, wrong-headed efforts spent here, the one who thus spends them is, at the end of the day, no closer to God than at the outset.
His corruption has never been denied, it has only been toyed with, pampered on the one hand, while half heartedly poked on the other.
The Right/Spiritual/effective/Gospel path however, ends in success.
That is not to say that this path leads to a sinless existence, for that is not the end of sanctification. The one who by the Spirit is putting to death the deeds of the body, is not purifying his own corruption, rather he is training himself to deny the flesh and obey the Spirit, and this for the sake of God's glory, and his own joy. He understands that the victory is our own spiritual maturity - and that being a fostered and cultivated dependance on God in all things.
The one who learns to stop opposing the work of God, and to trust in what God has done so that he is not trying to purchase God's love, or favor - this one is able to draw near to God in deeper and fuller fellowship - something that God desires, not for His benefit, but as an expression of the greatest gift God can give us - Himself.
Labels: gospel, sanctification, sin
posted by Daniel @
I know, I know. What could possibly be more lazy than cutting and pasting an email into your blog? That's right, pasting and email into your blog that is based entirely one a sermon preached a few hundred years ago, that some other blogger just posted.
But there you have it. It's Tuesday.
This goes in the *best of* category.
I needed this after all the almost antinomian Lutheranism I've been listening to lately.
Daniel, this was an earful. How have you personally experienced these two contrasting approaches? Where do you find the battle to focus most often for you?
Jim, I believe I have personally pursued, in my immaturity and ignorance, a carnal mortifying of sin rather than doing so through consciously through the Holy Spirit, faith, and cross of Christ. I think I am pretty normal in that, since that is what most of us do from the get go.
But I have also surrendered myself to Christ in practice, though not perfectly or consistently so, but even with this beggarly beginning I believe that God in His grace has allowed me to taste the difference between something that is born of faith and something that is born of my own effort, but labeled as something spiritual.
I am not sure what you mean, where do I find the battle to focus? I am probably just sleep deprived, but can you phrase that an other way?
Daniel, I have appreciated how you so often illustrate the details in the process of sanctification.
I would have to agree that our default setting is to pursue a life of holiness by carnal efforts. God then brings trials to aid in learning dependence upon Him and relying on His strength alone. Learning that in our flesh nothing good takes continued revelation.
Do you notice patterns in your struggle to surrender and how are you learning to become more aware of them?