Sanctification to Maturity

[This post was stimulated by a comment on the iMonk’s blog. Thanks go also to Cliff for anything good and useful it contains; all errors and chaff are my own.]

The writer of Hebrews says,

For though you ought even to be teachers by this time, you are needing someone again to teach you what are the elements [i.e. the fundamentals] of God’s oracles; you are become such that you need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, because he is an infant. But it is to the mature that solid food belongs, to those who by constant practice have faculties of judgement trained to distinguish good from worthless. (5.12–14)

When we continue from the basic principles of the oracles of God, according to Scripture, we move on to a maturity in which we know how to tell good from worthless. By use, by practice, by consistent exercise, at first with the crudeness of a young child and then with greater and greater skill, the Christian learns and matures.

When you practise, of course, you don’t just try to blunder your way through the thing: you keep in mind what you’re aiming for. No one expects to ‘just know’ some and, as time goes by, to just know more. No, because it’s a skill, and even experience won’t help unless you remember every time what to do. Little by little, however, those things you remember and rehearse mentally as the laws of the game become part of your doing itself.

Where it goes

Paul prays in Ephesians that God the Father, according to the riches of his glory, may grant us to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in our inner being, that Christ may dwell richly in our hearts. This is where the oracles go and where the oracles come from.

Our sanctification, the ability to judge good and evil for which we strive, the comprehension of the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ, is to the perfection even of Adam in his original sinlessness, for even he in the Garden was first forbidden from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, whose fruit is now held out to us in Christ, through the cross. Despite our failure in the Garden, God is gracious to grant us gifts to set us aright from our original sin – alleluia!

In Christ we are deified, begotten into immortality, not to fall and die like the false gods; in him we, the Church, are sons empowered with authority to judge good and evil, truth and error, wheat and chaff. As sons in the Only-Begotten Son, we are gods by the grace of God, given this charge in the Psalms:

Vindicate the weak and the fatherless;
to the wretched and the destitute do justice.
Rescue the weak and needy;
from the hand of the wicked deliver them.

And Jesus says, ‘I and the Father are one,’ and he gives us life eternal, and we never perish: ‘I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you.” ’ The psalm’s ironic inversion is inverted again, for us to be by grace what Christ is by nature.

No more pædogogos. Far better than law-keeping: theosis.

[Related: Steven Wedgeworth, a while ago, on life coming from the divine essence.]

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One response to “Sanctification to Maturity

  1. Pingback: Free Will and Dominion « Cogito, Credo, Petam

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