One of the biggest sources of confusion for a Christian is the conflict concerning who is responsible for one’s growth – oneself or God? You may never realized it was a problem, but let me show you how it is a problem.

  1. If I was to ask most fairly biblically literate people this week, “Who is responsible for a person becoming a Christian?” Most would state that God was responsible.
  2. If I was to ask the same group, “Who is responsible for a Christian growing?” Most would probably state that each individual person is responsible.

Here’s another way to look at the problem:

Most Christians would state that to become a Christian, you must trust, but to become a better Christian, you must try.

You trust God to become a Christian, but once you are a Christian, it’s all up to you for the growth.

While there is definitely a personal responsibility for growth, how do we think we can grow ourselves on our own power if we couldn’t save ourselves on our own power?

The Apostle Paul dealt with this situation as he confronted the Galatian church.

1 You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified? 2 I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?
(Galatians 3:1-3)

He stated, “After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3). While we have a responsibility to do our part to grow in Christ, let us never become so arrogant to think we have the power to change ourselves.  We tirelessly work but according to the power he gives to us (Col. 1:29)!  In our own strength, we were powerless to save and we are powerless to grow.

It was the Spirit of God’s power that saved us, and it will be his power that continues to sanctify us.

Augustine is referenced as saying, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”  While God will use experiences with the flesh to grow our faith, we cannot depend upon it.  It is still the Spirit that empowers are efforts!

Versus asking God to join you in your process to be more holy, realize that you are joining him in his process of sanctification.  I would rather be on his team than asking him to be on mine.  With his power, work hard as he works through you.

Travis Agnew is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is What God Has Joined Together.