(All about) My Sanctity

What if I wrote a post or two about my good works? Say I commented on a trip from Hillsdale to Ann Arbor in which I slowed down to allow a slow truck to merge on to I-94 in front of me instead of gunning it to pass on the right a car in the middle lane that happened to be annoying me (but less than the driver stuck obliviously in the passing lane)? Would that count as a sign of sanctification?

What if I blogged about the check I wrote yesterday and placed in the offering? If I happened to note that I might have been able to buy a new set of golf clubs with that money but instead decided to support the ministry of the word in the local church, would I get credit for holiness with those folks who like to observe how much they love the law?

Or what if I posted something on the hospitality my wife and I extended to an OPC family who dropped their son off for the fall semester? Would this gain me credit in the sanctification spread sheet?

Or perhaps, could it be that talking out loud about our good works is a tad unbecoming and may be an indication of not making great strides in the pursuit of holiness?

So then if I write a lot about sanctification instead of my good works does that make my reflections about me any better? Or would I be open, like the fellow who talks a lot about how to have a godly marriage even while constantly belittling his wife, to the potential challenge of hypocrisy? After all, just because I blog about the importance of sanctification doesn’t mean that I am any more sanctified than the next blogger. Nor does my pointing out the import of sanctification come any closer to helping me myself to be holy.

In which case, are some subjects better left unmentioned given the distance between the topic that the person mentioning it?


38 thoughts on “(All about) My Sanctity

  1. Might have dropped in the academic term “rubric” or the biz term “metrics” — but I like sanctification spread sheet” too. And our military has termed “effort” into a verb — horrible.


  2. Very good! This is something that needed to be said in a blog (and every place else) a long time ago. Along with showing courtesy to the trucker, hospitality to the new student, sacrificial giving, etc., those who are invited to get up in front of the congregation on any given Sunday and talk about all of the marvelous works that have been done in their lives (on God’s behalf, of course). Testimonials, they call them. I say sit down, be quiet, and listen to what the preacher has to say about your good works, no matter how you think you came by them, and snort a few good whiffs of humility. I’ve always understood that our giving and works are things that should be done privately. [cf. Luke 17:7-10, especially v.10]


  3. Reminds me of the time that a pastor said I was cowardly for telling him privately that maybe he shouldn’t tell everyone what he was giving up for Lent and how much it helped his walk. Cowardice, because I should have publicly rebuked him… but I was wrong anyway, apparently. I don’t think I’ve had a pastor get so ticked at me before.

    The pastor told me that Paul let everyone know about how much he was sanctified, after all. “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.”

    Anyway, I was cowardly, I should have told him that his participation in Lent was scandalous as well.


  4. Listening to my Vision Forum patriarchy tape set yesterday I learned via John Thompson (not the Georgetown basketball coach) that the “key to a child’s heart is in the shape of a wooden rod.” If you want to be truly sanctified, apparently you need to be spanked a lot as a kid.


  5. I usually assume an inverse correlation between a person who speaks about how sanctified he/she is and that person’s sanctification.


  6. Or what if I posted something on the hospitality my wife and I extended to an OPC family who dropped their son off for the fall semester? Would this gain me credit in the sanctification spread sheet?

    I don’t think this would register at all on the sanctification worksheet on the grounds of Matthew 5:46-48 (showing love to those who are like us). If you want credit for hospitality you ought to show it to someone who is different from you – like a PCA family, or a Methodist family, a Roman Catholic family, or to a completely pagan family. The further you get from the OPC the more points you’ll score (I’m kidding, of course).


  7. It would, indeed, be sanctifying to see DGH be hospitable to Jonathan Edwards, TKNY, the GC, and other eeeevangelicals. You could charge admission to get into that dinner party!


  8. I think Paul, Peter, John, the Reformers, the Westminster divines and countless ministers over the generations misses your memo because they talk about it a lot.


  9. “In which case, are some subjects better left unmentioned given the distance between the topic that the person mentioning it?”

    You just mentioned it – your entire article was focused on it – “What if I wrote a post or two about my good works” but SEE, I DON’T! (high five) It’s like people being self-righteous about their lack of self-righteousness.

    “Or perhaps, could it be that talking out loud about our good works is a tad unbecoming and may be an indication of not making great strides in the pursuit of holiness? ”

    The corollary being not talking out loud about your good works is becoming and may be an indication of growth in sanctification? I think you need to delete this article for your soul’s sake Darryl. Anyways, what’s the big deal about talking about sanctification – gospel writers did it, great christians of the past have done it. Just keep the parable of the pharisee and publican in mind as they did, and then stop being so naval-gazing and suspicious and skeptical.


  10. I think the most sanctified thing to do is give lectures on sanctification. This way, one lets others know how much you hate sin and fight it. Perhaps that sets the gold standard. Does Excel have enough to handle such sanctified data?


  11. In my view, with the Gospel Reformation Network, it appears to be the case that it’s ‘All About My Sanctity’ with them, on the whole.

    I liked what Barb Duguid said…..’God is at work when we are at our worst…….God’s glory is displayed in our weakness’…….(headline synopsis-quotes from her book ‘Extravagant Grace’).

    I hope he would not mind me quoting him, but at the WSCAL 2014 Conference on Sanctification, Professor S.M. Baugh related that concerning our sanctification, we should not be thinking about/focused on ourselves (my paraphrase). He made a humorous remark about what about saints who were holy (I guess like St. Francis of Assisi) and his picture was that their feet were always 3 feet off the floor……

    Pietists are always somehow calling attention to their piety and deeds, and how much they grunt and strain, and how you should also.

    What I have wondered at times, is, if these people are ‘working for their salvation’, or ‘tending’ that way, they may have the mindset that others can rob them of their reward somehow, and this becomes a background impetus to up the ante on a congregation or individuals……based on how Col. 2:18 is interpreted – ‘let no man steal your reward’………versus……Christ crowns His own gifts (double-dividend)


  12. I was taught that feet were off the ground because the skill of drawing them correctly on the ground took a long time to perfect and teach to others


  13. Thanks Kent – well said.

    ~ Thif Poft hath Infpired a fhort play, Confifting of but one Act ~

    Scene: Believers exiting the church after worship services are concluded, talking and fellowshiping with one another; Sanctimonious, a pious and upright Elder and Small Group Leader, approaches Weak-Conscience……………..

    Sanctimonious (A man of exemplary piety, devotion and practice (outwardly), speaks – grinning): “Well, Weak-Conscience, how was your week”?

    Weak Conscience (one well acquainted with his sin, doubt, and unbelief, yet against the same believes in Christ and desires to glorify God – answers, knowing that lying is not honoring to God, but also does not believe that he should lay himself open to such who only want to lord over him):

    Sanctimonious: “How’s your progress coming in the area of ‘purity’ “?

    Weak Conscience: (feeling a Catch-22 set-up coming on – answers): “Not where I would like to be, but I trust the Lord for grace and help.”

    Sanctimonious: “I saw you in the grocery store this week looking at the magazines – you know a lot of those are very seedy, and any true follower of Christ is going to train his eyes to not place anything before them that doesn’t honor and glorify God. This means that even if you buy gas, you should avoid buying gas from those gas stations that sell pornography”.

    Weak-Conscience: “But if I want to see the Pre-Season predictions on my college football team, where else can I find a magazine? The other grocery chains only carry the local newspapers.”

    Sanctimonious (in Pretentious, Condescending Astonishment): “Why, don’t you remember what Pastor Stonewall said last Sunday? Is this passion for your college football team competing with your love for Christ? You know, as much as I’ve heard you talking about them at church-coffee, I would say it seems to border on idolatry. And besides, even if it wasn’t idolatrous, you could always go to the local library to check out your favorite team. That way it you would clearly be above reproach. I’m afraid, though, that the Fall football season is affecting your in your commitment to the Lord and to the local church, because we didn’t see you on Wednesday night, and we were wondering where you were.”

    Weak Conscience: “But I’ve seen Pastor Stonewall himself at the Purple Devils’ games, and he was beside himself pulling for his gridiron team…..and he has there team pennants all over his office walls alongside his favorite military generals and battle-flags – I don’t think that my love for my team is idolatry, I just love my team”.

    Sanctimonious: “Just the fact that you are resisting admonishment seems to be an indicator of pride on your part, and pride, as you know, always goes before a fall………….Pastor Stonewall is worthy of double-honor; he’s labored hard doing the Lord’s work, and this is one of the things that the Session feels he needs to have some rest and relaxation from the ministry – and besides, we are called to honor those who are in authority over us, and to submit to them. It’s not our place to question them, or put them under a microscope, or make them feel as though they are living in a fishbowl”………

    ~ Exeunt – End of Act One ~


  14. Semper – alongside his favorite military generals and battle-flags

    Erik – Confederate, no doubt.

    Good post.

    When Richard Smith was around I would post 10,000 word scenarios like this regularly. Helped me cope.


  15. Thanks Erik for the encouragement…….and I have lived through scenarios like that for a long time ~ also, you must have seen or observed (Grey generals & battle flags) like this before.

    You and everyone here are helping me here as Richard obviously helped you.


  16. Semper, I will second Erik. That was an excellent post and I can relate all too well. Left me wondering if you’ve overheard conversations I’ve suffered through. You nailed it.


  17. Well thanks DG, there goes my perceptions of you as a vinegary historian and theologian.

    Maybe you scored some point with the Gospel Allies withy your piety. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a conference invite now.


  18. Thanks Brad,

    So appreciate your kindness; yours and everyone’s great encouragement means more than you know to me. In a way, Old Life is like a place of refuge.

    It’s amazing how similar our experiences are, or seem to be. Everything composed in the One Act Play is something I have either experienced or observed, so it’s real. I think what bothers me the most is how Pastors, Elders/Church Sessions (and church members in general) will read/listen to an influential minister, author, or parachurch leader, and adopt their philosophy/manifesto/bullet points as ‘enforceable’ upon the congregation for compliance. In a way, it’s like ‘Group Think’.
    I have been in a church situation before where there was a very prominent Christian author in-situ, who was extremely influential, and had a very dogged personality to match, and – who was also into church discipline – (why?) – I guess, because he wanted to make sure that there was no one in our midst who had committed the ‘Sin of Achen’ (you know, ‘no sin in the camp’). Everyone who taught Sunday School could not teach a lesson without including, “well, you know, as John Doe says”……..and there was serious joking also……like……”do we need to bring you before John Doe and the Session about this? If you confronted the serious joke, usually people would back down, but I always took it to mean – ‘I’m watching you, and doing my part to keep the church free from idolatry and sin of any kind/type.’ Any church that is this fixated on inward-looking and introspection has lost the Gospel, in my view. It wasn’t just the Sunday School teachers, it was also the Pastor, and most of the church members who invoked this author’s name over and over and over. The author was also an Elder, so he had real power at his fingertips. A lot of people were afraid of him, and didn’t want to get excommunicated, so they towed the ‘party line’. What bothered me was how often he seemed to be invoked, and dare I say it, to me and to my mind – more so than Christ. To boot, this author played the fence concerning the Gospel, and really thought that preaching the Gospel to yourself was error.

    To summarize, it seems that when a church/denomination trades the Gospel and the Confessions in the Reformed tradition (Justification Priority emphasis, etc.), this is what you get. The Neonomians can’t offer anything else but inward looking, introspection, “raking over your soul to find your transgression for the day” (my college professor said that to me way back when) and just getting ‘blown and burned’ trying to find the inner voice of God for direction and doing all of the activities and hoops that leave us worn out and confused, as we tried to follow the church leadership’s example and directives. At the crux of the matter – no one wanted to ‘not appear to be spiritual or well-thought of” in their devotion to Christ, and were secretly wondering about their faith and how authentic it was, and not losing rewards.


  19. Richard Gaffin—-But, at the same time, that righteousness, as imputed, is, in an absolutely crucial sense, anything but “alien.”….. Only as we maintain imputation as a facet of what Calvin calls our “fellowship of righteousness” (iustitiae societatem) with Christ, as an integral aspect of our union with Christ crucified and exalted, will we do so in a fashion that is more compelling and fully cogent biblically.

    Gaffin—As added value, doing that will provide a much more effective response to the persisting misunderstanding of Roman Catholics and others that the Reformation doctrine of justification renders sanctification unnecessary. It will also help the heirs of the Reformation to keep clear to themselves something they have not always or uniformly appreciated, namely how integral, no less essential than justification, to the salvation accomplished and applied in Christ sanctification is, involving as it does the pursuit of that “holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

    Gaffin—In fact, from Rom 8:29-30, to take but one instance briefly, it is fair to say that in our salvation our sanctification is strategically more ultimate than our justification. For there sanctification, seen as culminating in our glorification, is the goal aimed at, all told, in our predestination. Further, sanctification, in view as our being “conformed to the image of his Son,” contemplates and effects the even more ultimate end, “that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Such is the stake the exalted Son has in sanctification.



  20. DG, didn’t you get the memo? If you have a pro-life sticker/license plate, sign of fish sign/decal, or quiverfull stick figure family (cats don’t count) you can drive as fast as you want. And forget turn signals.


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