Who's at the Controls?


The life of a born-again Christian is not defined as "good to gooder."

Picture the character of a believer as a mixing board in a musician's studio. There are two volume controls (or faders): one for Self and one for God. Though the volume control for God is a brand-new element, the fader labeled "Self" is not taken out. It remains.

A righteous life then, to echo John 3:30, would be one where the volume control for God is increased, and the volume control for Self is decreased. The thing is, man's not too good at handling these controls himself.

Santification is often erroneously viewed as a man-centered, Buddhist Nirvana destination involving a straight line up to enlightenment. There is an expectation of reaching the point where one says, "I've made it."

When that "moment" is not reached and the realization dawns that the old nature remains, the individual begins to think there must be something wrong with their salvation, or the efficacy thereof. They become susceptible to distortions of the Bible in order to suit the flesh. They don't realize that the "good to gooder" way of thinking has taken their focus off God. They've only succeeded in raising the volume control of Self despite their best intentions.

A life lived in pursuit of personal perfection is a setup for multiple, existential, faith-threatening crises or — when the individual is less than honest with his or herself — boa constrictor-like legalism.

"He must increase; I must decrease." John the Baptist's simple declaration of Christ's ascendancy is multi-layered. It beautifully illustrates santification as an exchange of two natures, rather than the replacement of one with the other. The structure of the verse emphasizes the believer's relationship and identification with Jesus Christ. The righteous believer is the humble believer who lets Christ take the controls.