Probably one of the most frequently discussed topics I hear today is how we "grow" as Christians. Some seem to run away from the commands in scripture-- wanting all indicatives and no imperatives. For others, the Christian life is largely their effort-- God saves and then they sanctify (themselves).
While working on my Sunday message for this week, I found these quotes from Jerry Bridges to be helpful. They are found in his book, The Discipline of Grace. Bridges does a good job showing us that the imperatives are based on the indicatives.
"We take what we think are the tools of spiritual transformation into our own hands and try to sculpt ourselves into robust Christlike specimens. But spiritual transformation is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit. He is the Master Sculptor" (11).
"Some days we may be more acutely conscious of our sinfulness and hence more aware of our need of His grace, but there is never a day when we can stand before Him on our own two feet of performance, when we are worthy enough to deserve His blessing" (17).
"We must remember, however, that the gospel is for sinners. Jesus said, 'I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance' (Luke 5:32). The gospel is meaningful for us only to the extent that we realize and acknowledge that we are still sinful. Although we are new creations in Christ, we still sin every day in thought, word, and deed, and perhaps even more importantly, in motives. To benefit from the gospel every day, then, we must acknowledge that we are still sinners" (21).
"We readily acknowledge that we can never through our own sins attain a righteousness that is sufficient for salvation. But then as believers we act as if we can live lives acceptable to God" (48).
"To die to sin then means, first of all, to die to its legal or penal reign and, secondly, as a necessary result, to die to its dominion over us" (69).
"Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in us whereby our inner being is progressively changed, freeing us more and more from sinful traits and developing within us over time the virtues of Christlike character. However, though sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, it does involve our wholehearted response in obedience and the regular use of the spiritual disciplines that are instruments of sanctification" (94).
"We press the accelerator pedal of obedience until we have brought our behavior up to a certain level or "speed." The level of obedience is most often determined by the behavior standard of other Christians around us" (116).
"The most important message we need to hear as believers is the gospel" (124).