“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3)
How do we grow as a Christian? Is it through ascetic practices, being more disciplined than we once were, or by keeping the Law to a greater extent?
Salvation comes through faith not by works. We are justified in God’s sight through the work of Christ on our behalf when we exercise faith in Jesus’ work on our behalf.
If we are saved/justified by faith, we are also sanctified by faith. We don’t come to Christ through faith, then grow in righteousness through our works. No, we grow as a believer, putting off the old and putting on the new through faith in Jesus’ work on our behalf and the Spirit’s work in our life.
It is the Spirit who works in us to bring to mind our sin. He also works to change our desires so that over time, or in some instances in a moment, no longer desire the things of the world. We live for and long for the things of God.
Beating our body into submission through ascetic practices will not work. The desires of our flesh is strong. For thousands of years, the law didn’t work to make man righteous. We need Jesus’ justifying work and we need the Spirit’s sanctifying work in order to grow in righteousness.