If we can Resist the Spirit, We can Allow the Spirit
“It is a biblical fact that believers can resist the Holy Spirit, as they are commanded not to do so, and it is a biblical fact that believers can fall into sin. If we can choose to resist the Spirit, and God is not the author of, nor is he responsible for, our sin, then we can also choose not to resist the Holy Spirit.
“Is not such a choice, truly our choice? Is God to be blamed when we resist the Holy Spirit? No. The reason is that God cannot resist himself. We are the ones who resist God.
If I choose not to resist the Holy Spirit, but to “keep in step with the Holy Spirit” as it says in Galatians 5, then is it not every bit as much the same exercise of my will choosing to do this, and does not such “choosing” belong to the realm of human responsibility for which I am genuinely accountable ?
“I freely acknowledge I could do no good thing without God’s provision in Christ. Jesus himself said, ‘without me, you can do nothing.’ At the same time, I am genuinely responsible to exercise my renewed will and utilize this provision, and it is my choice to do this, as God does not do it for me.”
At the foundation of this view is the false assumption that freedom equals autonomy, and that the fact that God is not the author or approver of sin makes our “free will” to sin autonomous.
This view falsely assumes that because we resist the grace of God and grieve the Holy Spirit, that God does not control us without blame to his holy character in our resisting and our grieving him, but we rather control ourselves and that our autonomous, self-determining choice is the reason we are blameworthy of sin, and God is innocent of sin.
While God is not in the least to blame for sin and he is not the Author or approver of sin, he nevertheless controls even the sinful actions of men with his almighty sovereign power.There is no such thing as autonomy in the exercise of the “free will” to grieve the Holy Spirit.
There is no discretionary autonomy to resist the grace of God, but rather such resistance, while completely the fault of the sinner, is under God’s sovereign control, and should lead those who think such “freedom” is theirs to fear that they are being fattened as cattle for the slaughter when they countenance sin.
If I reason that because I am able to resist the Holy Spirit through my autonomous free will, I am also able to choose not to resist and to instead “co-operate” with the grace of God in my life (as though it were up to me to make use of the “raw materials” of God’s gracious provision), I then see myself as making the potential obedience secured for me by my standing in Christ actual, true obedience by the exercise of my will.
I thus assume that just as autonomous freedom is the basis of the sinful acts I commit as a Christian, so also autonomous freedom is the basis of the good works I perform as a Christian. I therefore sinfully suppose that autonomy is the basis of my Christian obedience, rather than the work of God which is a gift secured by the death of Jesus and applied to my life by the power of the Holy Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:23, 24).
Autonomy which gives God all the credit is still autonomy. It still sees itself, where the issue of sanctification is concerned, as a separate and distinct entity without which the work would not occur, and thus the one on whom it depends. To say that you could never do it without God is still to confess that you believe that you are the one doing it, even with God as your indispensable helper.
Such a confession is not biblical sanctification, but religious pride on the order of the Pharisee who prayed in the temple, giving God all the credit by thanking God he was not like other men (Luke 18:11).
As Calvin correctly points out above in his statement on Ezekiel 11, God does not merely restore us to the position of the first Adam in our sanctification. He gives us more than mere ability to do good, leaving it up to our “free will” to then choose the good as an act of autonomous discretion. God, says Calvin, is “the author of the upright will, and he works in us to accomplish his purpose.”
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