People Do Not Drift Toward Holiness

post date: June 9, 2010


Why is it taking me so long to get better?

Most Christians have asked that question at one time or another. Or maybe you’ve wondered why the Christian life seems so hard. Why is it so easy to drift and so hard to grow?

At his blog Between Two Worlds Justin Taylor quotes a very challenging statement from Don Carson’s fine book For the Love of God about how spiritual growth happens:

    One of the most striking evidences of sinful human nature lies in the universal propensity for downward drift.

    In other words, it takes thought, resolve, energy, and effort to bring about reform.
    In the grace of God, sometimes human beings display such virtues. But where such virtues are absent, the drift is invariably toward compromise, comfort, indiscipline, sliding disobedience and decay that advances, sometimes at a crawl and sometimes at a gallop, across generations.
    People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, and obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.
    We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance;
    we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom;
    we drift toward superstition and call it faith.
    We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation;
    we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism;
    we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated (p. 23).

One sentence in particular seems very important to me. “People do not drift toward holiness.” When we drift, we always drift downward. If we “go with the flow,” we are not likely to be happy where we end up.

Let all “drifters” take heed to these words. If you don’t like what your life has become, ask God for the grace to make a new beginning. But be forewarned. Drifting is easier, more convenient, and more fun in the short term. Drifting takes no effort. You just relax and go wherever the current takes you.

Spiritual growth comes through “grace-driven effort.” Pray for the grace and then make the effort. As long as you keep drifting, nothing will ever change. 

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