A Progressive Walk

In looking a little deeper at our spiritual growth process, the Bible does not support the popular belief of just letting go and letting God handle life’s bumps. In fact, our progressive sanctification process requires us to be actively involved, especially in our times of struggle.

It was the convicting power of the Holy Spirit who first drew us into a relationship with Jesus Christ, believing Him to be the Son of God and the Messiah. Once we accepted this as truth, we became children of God, even heirs of God (Romans 8:17). Through Jesus and His shedding of blood for our sake, we have received our justification (righteousness) before a holy and just God (Romans 5:9).

But, fellow believer, we are far from done. The race is only beginning.

Once we accept Christ and receive His justification, progressive sanctification is our key to growth and maturity. It does not end during our human life, nor do we ever arrive in our earthly bodies. This is the theology of discipleship. And we must be actively involved.

Consider the roles of the persons of the Trinity in our sanctification process:

The Father: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15: 1-2).

The Son: “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:26-27).

The Holy Spirit: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:16-17).

As part of becoming sanctified, we too play a vital role though our own growth and maturity obtained through discipleship. Certainly, there will be trials and there will be suffering. It is unbiblical to take these trials and refuse to let God develop you and it is also unbiblical to ask God to remove these burdens from your life just because you don’t like it; for in doing so reflects a petition that is focused on your will instead of His. Remember Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: while He did ask that this cup be removed from Him, it was only if it was in accordance with the Father’s will (Matthew 26:39).

There is much growing to be had when we are in the lowest valleys of life. If we simply wish to turn it all over to God and let Him remove these valleys, we are neglecting the growth opportunities He has laid before us, and thus acting out of accordance with His will for our lives.

Yes, we are to cast our burdens on Him (Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7), but we also must place His will for us before our own. If the valley laid before us is one we must travail, then we should do so gladly, for in doing so we are at one with the Father.

So when we are told to “Let go and let God”, we create an imbalance and are going against Scripture. Jesus told us that we are to "strive" towards the narrow gate that leads to eternal life (Luke 13:24), not just lay back and wait to die. Welcome the trials as teaching and growth opportunities, seek His will in prayer and study and you will learn to recognize His pruning work in you:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4).

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12).