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How Does Change Happen? (Part 2)

Joy in the gospel and our forever-acceptance by God on the basis of Christ (rather than grief over sin), is what motivates true change (i.e. 'progressive sanctification').

Change happens by soaking our minds in the truth of the gospel, such that we are firmly convinced of the love of God for us despite our utter sinfulness, a truth which motivates joy and love for God that is the source of all true obedience, one that views God's commands as a pleasure and not as a burden.

At the end of the day, how do people really change? How does growth happen in the Christian life? 

Sanctification is never advanced by self-focused grief or guilt. It is energized by joy and driven by love.

[Counsel from the Cross, 118]

Fitzpatrick and Johnson's Counsel from the Cross--especially chapters 5-6--(again very helpfully!) has reaffirmed and clarified previous thoughts on this topic, and brought them to life in a way very challenging and joy-inducing!

On their focus on "gospel-centered counseling" and not simply "biblical counseling", they say:

Other counselors share our belief that humanistic psychology leads into blind alleys, but their solution is to focus extensively on the Bible's imperatives and the counselee's self-discipline [i.e. 'put on, put off' and that's it!] with little attention to the patterns of self-doubt and unbelief that enervate the counselee's motivation and hope in the painful process of change.

[Counsel from the Cross, 98]

Change does not come to pass simply as a matter of saying, "The Bible says it, just do it." Rather, "Our problem with obedience is that we don't love as intensively as we should." (102) We do not love as we should, because we either don't see the depth of our sin, or we don't see the magnitude of his grace and that we are forever loved and accepted in Christ!

It is this love for God--which grows in response to his love, and thus from the gospel and not the law--which generates true obedience / sanctification / change.

Let us hear again the gospel of Jesus Christ: "We are all more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe but more loved and welcomed than we ever dared hope." (49)


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Matt Hauck (郝柏昇)

A once enemy now son, forgiven and freed by Jesus' blood, adopted and called by grace for glory.   (more...)

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