Justin Taylor brings our attention to an online dialogue between Kevin DeYoung and Tullian Tchividjian on the effort we’re called to make in our sanctification. Since that ties in with our current series, Completed by the Spirit, I thought it would be good to visit the discussion as it stands so far:
- Kevin DeYoung, “Make Every Effort”
- Tullian Tchividjian, “Work Hard! But in Which Direction?”
- Kevin DeYoung, “Gospel-Driven Effort”
The two pastors agree that the indicative of the gospel and our justification in Christ must be the basis of our sanctification. But I think the difference can be boiled down to the difference between action and ontology. At the risk of oversimplification, Kevin’s call is for us to “do” those things that are given to us as imperatives, while Tullian’s call is for us to “rest in” the indicatives so that the imperatives flow from them.
Our view — and the one that will be explained in further posts in the Completed by the Spirit series — is that Paul’s imperatives are calls for us to “be who we already are.” We can do things that look like sanctification but if those actions are done in the flesh, they are simply behavior modification. It’s a change in the heart that is desired, not simply an outward change in actions.
To grow in Christ’s image, we must engage in “the hard work of going back to the certainty of our already secured pardon in Christ and hitting the refresh button over and over,” as Tullian explains. It’s knowing who we now are in Christ that gives us the freedom to be that new creature.