WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION? Part 2.
▶️ Myth number three is that believers are already perfect and flawless (come on, admit it, you’ve probably even sung a pop Christian song about this one without giving it much thought).
This error confuses our position of justification with sanctification. Though, because of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, our Heavenly Father accepts us completely and we are positionally perfect, we are not practically perfect. We still struggle with sin. We still need sanctification. We are not flawless, yet.
Paul himself was open about the fact that he had not yet achieved total sanctification when he said “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Philippians 3:12. Paul knew what many of today’s Christian’s need to learn – this side of eternity is a battle against the flesh and requires our every effort, in the strength that the Lord supplies us.
In the process of progressive sanctification, believers are growing to be more and more like Jesus. Before we were believers, our minds and behaviors were conformed to the patterns of this world, and now as believers, we are being conformed into the image of Christ.
We do this by abiding in Christ, being in His Word and in communion with God through prayer, submitting to biblical teaching, leaning on Him for strength, saying no to our sinful desires, being faithful in the good works that God has prepared for us, and being in fellowship with and accountable to other believers. Knowing all the while that we are only able to obey and to grow because of the Holy Spirit living within us. So now that we are saved, we work to please God in everything we do, with the enabling and empowering that He alone provides.
Philippians 2:12,13 sums up this idea beautifully, saying, “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”