Let Go and Let God
Justin Taylor posted a really excellent excerpt from J.I. Packer today on the latter’s struggle with sanctification as a new believer. He writes about how the mantra “let go and let God” into which he was inducted in his university years almost destroyed him. I think this is how far too many of us still think about sanctification. Packer writes:
What I seemed to be hearing, however, was a call to deny personal self, so that I could be taken over by Jesus Christ in such a way that my present experience of thinking and willing would become something different, an experience of Christ himself living in me, animating me, and doing the thinking and willing for me. Put like that, it sounds more like the formula of demon-possession than the ministry of the indwelling Christ according to the New Testament. But in those days I knew nothing about demon-possession,and what I have just put into words seemed to be the plain meaning of ‘I live; yet not I, but Christliveth in me’ (Gal. 2:20, KJV) as expounded by the approved speakers…….
At that time I did not know that Harry Ironside, sometime pastor of Moody Memorial Church, Chicago, once drove himself into a full-scale mental breakdown through trying to get into the higher life as I was trying to get into it; and I would not have dared to conclude, as I have concluded since, that this higher life as described is a will-o’-the-wisp, an unreality that no one has ever laid hold of at all, and that those who testify to their experience in these terms really, if unwittingly, distort what has happened to them. All I knew was that the expected experience was not coming. The technique was not working. Why not? Well, since the teaching declared that everything depends on consecration being total, the fault had to lie in me. So I must scrape my inside again to find whatever maggots of unconsecrated selfhood still lurked there. I became fairly frantic.
And then (thank God) the group was given an old clergyman’s library, and in it was an uncut set of Owen, and I cut the pages of volume VI more or less at random, and read Owen on mortification – and God used what the old Puritan had written three centuries before to sort me out.