Monday, May 10, 2010

Self-Reliance

Last week I shared a little from the latest book I've been reading, Bookends of the Christian Life by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington. Please refer to the posts from April 26 (Self Righteousness) and April 27 (Persistent Guilt) for more information. Self righteousness and persistent guilt were named as gospel enemies #1 and #2, respectively. There is a third gospel enemy mentioned in the book: Self-Reliance. Today I'd like to share with you what is said about self-reliance from pages 124 & 125 of the book:

Self-reliance toward God is dependence on our own power, not the power of the Holy Spirit.....Self-reliance is the opposite of dependence on the Holy Spirit's power for sanctification. Just as by nature we assume we earn our salvation by good works, so by nature we assume we grow spiritually by our own effort and willpower.

What's wrong with this kind of self-reliance?
Everything.

First of all, it doesn't work. The Christian life is a spiritual life lived in a spiritual world. Our human strength, be it physical power or willpower, is inadequate. We need divine strength that comes from a divine source--the Spirit of God. When we attempt to live the Christian life in our own strength, we head in the direction of legalism, pride, frustration, or ungodly living. It can even lead to a shipwrecked faith. When we nullify the grace of God provided by the power of the Holy Spirit, it's just a matter of time before we nullify the righteousness of Christ as well. That's why self-reliance is a gospel enemy.

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