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Written by Pastor Jim Lee for “The Domain for Truth” @ https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com
Original post @ https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/sanctification-positional-progressive-and-perfected/
Sanctification: Positional, Progressive and Perfected
February 27, 2016 by SLIMJIM
Do you know the three P’s of Christian Sanctification? And why should it matter for the Christian life? Is it mere “theologizing?”
Sanctification can be broken down into positional, progressive and perfected sanctification. Each of these can be understood temporally as past, present and future respectively.
Positional describes initial sanctification that begin at the moment of salvation. While it is the initial sanctification, interestingly God does view the believer as sanctified in a once for all time act that is known as definitive sanctification. The church in Corinth, with all their problems, was addressed by Paul as “those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling” in 1 Corinthians 1:2. Paul doesn’t say they are “being sanctified” but said they “have been sanctified,” and “saints” instead of “saints in progress.” As 1 Corinthians 1:2 states and 1 Corinthians 1:30 collaborates, positional sanctification is “in Christ.”
Why does it matter?
Positional sanctification shapes the identity of a believer being “dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). To be holy is now a part of a believers’ “DNA.” Positional sanctification is thus the foundation for progressive sanctification. This is a great hope and encouragement for a believer to be holy, knowing being a saint and being sanctified is part of one’s spiritual identity! One who is born-again is now “born” to be set apart…and is already set apart!
Positional sanctification describes the process of someone becoming more like Christ (Romans 8:29). This sanctification is experiential in that believers have the responsibility to participate in their own sanctification with the understanding that it is God who works within them (Philippians 2:13). Experientially, progressive sanctification involves killing sin (Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5), putting on Christ (Romans 13:14) and walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Through God’s providence and His discipline of believers (Hebrews 12:7-11) one of the means for our progressive sanctification is the crisis in our lives. That is, God uses trials and tribulation to spiritually grow a believer in holiness.
Why does it matter?
There’s two reason why this is important for the Christian life. First, knowing that a believer has the responsibility to pursue holiness and sanctification, a believer must realize that’s one’s chief duty before all else. Second, knowing that God works out all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28) and knowing that the “good” is for the end of making us more like His Son (Romans 8:29), that means the trials in a believers’ life is not just an “accident” but ordained by God for one’s progress in sanctification. Thus in times of trials and testing, Christians are in a situation where they should be practicing the discipline of grace to bear the fruit of the Spirit with the aim of being more like Jesus. A biblical view of progressive sanctification redeems even the suffering in our lives.
Of course one would never be without sin in this side of eternity according to 1 John 1:8 so progressive sanctification would never be perfect. Perfected sanctification, that is, the believers being totally sanctified, will occur during the believers’ glorification in heaven. Since Hebrews 12:14 teaches that without sanctification no one will see the Lord, and given that elsewhere Scripture teaches that believers will be with God for eternity, this must mean believers will be perfected in sanctification in the eternal state.
Why does it matter?
First off, what a blessed hope when we struggle to be holy, to know one day we will be perfected as holy! Secondly, realizing that we won’t be perfect now in our progressive sanctification doesn’t make sanctification a meaningless pursuit when we fail and sin; rather, it causes us to change the goal post of Christian sanctification. We are to pursue godliness not merely for “victory” over sin, but we pursue godliness moment by moment as loving obedience to Him and not just for victories we can be proud of or boast about. We pursue holiness more than for a clean conscience (though that’s important) or for the sake of others, we pursue holiness even when it’s imperfect as an act of loving Him. Also the more we gain in godliness, the more we long for that perfection that is promised!
Why Does All Three Aspects of Sanctification Matter?
Remember that positional, progressive and perfected sanctification can be understood temporally as past, present and future work of God respectively. All three aspects of sanctification should comfort a Christian: God has not abandoned him or her! Rather, God is working in the believer’s life! Secondly, if sanctification is the work of God to make us more holy and holiness increase our joy, then this means true sanctification, while painful and hard, is rewarding and the joy is a joy in the Lord. It is a joy that surpasses all circumstances.
Biblical doctrines matters because holiness matters. It is practical, if it is derived from the Word of God and we study it to worship God. It is practical and good, if true Biblical doctrines with its implications are the fuel for our pursuit of God and holiness.