HOW DOES SANCTIFICATION WORK?
By David Powlison
Crossway. 128 pages. £7.06
ISBN 978 1 433 556 104
But why is change so hard for us? You might ask: ‘Why after 32 years do I still not squeeze the toothpaste tube properly’; or ‘Why do I still binge eat?’ ‘Why do I still look at porn?’; ‘Why do I still get angry with my husband?’; ‘Why can’t I trust God rather than be anxious all the time?’; etc.
Change and pain
Small or massive change seems to involve pain and struggle with small incremental steps forward and some backsliding. It all seems painfully slow at times.
This is the premise behind David Powlison’s book How Does Sanctification Work?
In the introduction Powlison says ‘most of this book will come down to street-level living …’ and he spends the first half of the book showing that there is no ‘just do this’ approach that works and that God treats us all differently with each of our stories having a freshness and variety to them.
Five elements of change
The meat of the book is a great chapter on ‘How people change?’. Dr Powlison talks about five elements in the change process and how they link together: ‘Truth changes you; Suffering and struggle changes you; Wise people change you; God changes you; You change.’ There is a helpful diagram to show how these five elements fit together. He then goes on to look at practical examples and the dynamic of change.
I wondered, as I read the book, if it really could be that God is using these five elements, including difficult experiences and the counsel of other Christians, to change me? In the mess and struggle of life it doesn’t always feel like that.
If, like me, you often need reassurance and to be renewed in hope that God is changing you by his grace, this book is for you.
The final chapter of the book includes a great quote from B.B. Warfield and a beautiful description of the Christian’s ‘journey’ to final glory. ‘May a loving sympathy beat and batter these stubborn hearts of ours into fitness for our heavenly home … You are no longer an isolated individual, divided off from others, an island of self-reliance. You are becoming a person bound together for life with your brothers and sisters … We are one in Christ. We are heading home. We will see his face. And all will be well.’
If all your resolutions to change and grow tend to crumble, perhaps this is the book for you.