"Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. True sanctification is impossible apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross because only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life." (source)
The word process is important. When you are justified (declared by God righteous at the moment of your salvation) you instantly become a new creature. Yet, you are also being transformed over your lifetime. The Holy Spirit grows you in this process, with your willing submission and partnership.
The part in the definition of sanctification about leading a holy life is important too. Part of that holy life includes wisdom and understanding of God's word. Understanding His word is essential to growth because it is by studying it we come to know Christ. It is His revealed word to us, and it includes His character, His nature, and His will for us. Apostle Paul urges us to press toward the prize, the prize being Christ. How can we know who He is or how to press forward if we do not mature and understand His word?
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11)
In researching the "Christian" mommy blogger Glennon Melton, I came across a longer quote of hers. She wrote a hypothetical letter to a hypothetical person explaining why homosexuality is OK now. How it is unloving to disagree with a homosexual lifestyle but mor emature CHrisitans evolve toward a more "loving"stance about it. Here is a shorter excerpt of that quote.
"Your parents are Christians who believe that the Bible is inspired by God, just like people are. And since the Bible is a living thing, it is in its very nature to evolve toward becoming more loving." ~Glennon Melton
I'm always amazed at the ways satan twists doctrines. Here, we see that the verse from Hebrews 4:12 has been masterfully twisted.
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Let's break it down. Satan is effective at melding a bit of truth to a lot of error or a lot of truth to a bit of error. Either way, the result is the same.
The word of God is living. We agree.
The word of God is active. We agree.
Active means change. The word of God, because it is active, must be changing ("evolving"). I disagree.
The evolving word of God must therefore be growing more loving, since the logical trajectory of evolution is from less to more. I disagree.
The fatal mistake here is that the word does not change. God does not change. WE change. His stance on sin has not changed from the first moments the bible was inspired and penned. Our understanding of His word changes as we grow. The writers of the books of the bible show us this in several places.
"I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready," (1 Corinthians 3:2)
Here Paul is speaking to the Corinthians of their arrested development. Babies need milk because they are not ready for a steak until they have teeth, fine motor skills to cut and chew meat, and a digestive system able to handle the load.
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food," (Hebrews 5:12).
Gill's Exposition explains the above Hebrews verse--here it is used by way of reproach, and denotes levity and inconstancy, ignorance and non-proficiency, want of digestion of strong meat, and incapacity to take care of themselves, as standing in need of tutors and governors.
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, (Hebrews 6:1)
So we see there is ample evidence that the living and active word causes a change in us, not the other way around.
It might be useful to take a look at the work of Jean Piaget, the Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher who worked with children. Glennon Melton's view of scripture as evolving from less loving to more loving means that God changes. However the true view of scripture is that while it stays the same, our understanding of it grows as the Spirit grows us in sanctification. I know many of you have had the experience of having read a verse many times but then one day, in reading it again, suddenly all new insights flood your mind and you have at once a deeper understanding, Have the words themselves changed on the page? No. But our understanding of them has.
Jean Piaget worked with children for many years and created a theory of cognitive development. "Cognition is the process by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. In science, cognition is the mental processing that includes the attention of working memory, comprehending and producing language, calculating, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. In cognitive psychology and cognitive engineering, cognition is typically assumed to be information processing in a participant’s or operator’s mind or brain. In cognitive psychology and cognitive engineering, cognition is typically assumed to be information processing in a participant’s or operator’s mind or brain."
Piaget placed an order on a child's cognitive development and structured them into age groupings. We all know children develop. We all know children's brains become more able to handle greater and more complex functions as they grow. It is the same with us as Christians. We start our learning the elementary doctrines and have a more childish relationship with Jesus. As we mature, we deepen our understanding and add layers of experience and complexity to our relationship with the Father. Here is Piaget:
A Quick Summary of Cognitive Development
The Sensorimotor Stage: During this stage, infants and toddlers acquire knowledge through sensory experiences and manipulating objects.
The Preoperational Stage: At this stage, kids learn through pretend play but still struggle with logic and taking the point of view of other people.
The Concrete Operational Stage: Kids at this point of development begin to think more logically, but their thinking can also be very rigid. They tend to struggle with abstract and hypothetical concepts.
The Formal Operational Stage: The final stage of Piaget's theory involves an increase in logic, the ability to use deductive reasoning, and an understanding of abstract ideas.
It is important to note that Piaget did not view children's intellectual development at a quantitative process; that is, kids do not just add more information and knowledge to their existing knowledge as they get older. Instead, Piaget suggested that there is a qualitative change in how children think as they gradually process through these four stages. A child at age 7 doesn't just have more information about the world than he did at age 2; there is a fundamental change in how he thinks about the world. (source)
Can you see the parallels with how we interact with the doctrines of His word, with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and with each other? We don't simply acquire more verses as we memorize, we develop in fundamental change in how we regard the Father as we experience His truths borne out in our Christian lives. This comparison is especially apt because we are children to the Father, no matter if we are 12 years old or 112 years old. He is renewing our minds, and we undergo fundamental change as the Spirit grows us into new creations. (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
I hope by now you can see two things:
1. How subtly satan takes a bible verse and twists it in the mind of an unsaved person such as Glennon Melton. It's based on a truth and it sounds logical, but it isn't either of those.
2. How God does not change but the Spirit changes us through the living and active word, with our partnership. It is a mystery on how we effect the changes or how far our efforts go in this glorious renewal, but we know we do have a part in it. We submit, we pray, we study, we appeal to the Father for wisdom. We work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Alongside within us, the Spirit is always working, to renew, transform, knit together a new creature whose finished product at the Marriage ceremony will be a glory unto Jesus.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, (Jude 1:20)
His living and active Word is evolving US into creations fit for heaven. Allow me to alter Mrs Melton's lie into truth. A few well-chosen words here and there make such a difference. "You are Christians who believe that the Bible is inspired by God, just like people are when we submit to its precepts. And since the Bible is a living Word, it is in its very nature to evolve us toward becoming more loving."
None of our understanding of His word would be possible without our precious Savior descending from above to live with us, teach, be rejected, punished, scourged, die, and rise again. He is the supreme Person of the Universe, please give Him all praise and glory. Dedicate yourself to His words, live them, exclaim them, guard them.
"Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)