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Monday
Mar162009

Theological Term of the Week

progressive sanctification
An ongoing inner transformation in which the Holy Spirit works to make the believer more and more like Christ in every way, including desires, thoughts and actions; most frequently simply called sanctification.

  • From scripture:
    And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)
  • From The London Baptist Confession, 1689:

    Chapter 13: Of Sanctification

    1. They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are also farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. (Acts 20:32; Romans 6:5, 6; John 17:17; Ephesians 3:16-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23; Romans 6:14; Galatians 5:24; Colossians 1:11; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14)

    2. This sanctification is throughout the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 7:18, 23; Galatians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:11)

    3. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after an heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word hath prescribed them. (Romans 7:23; Romans 6:14; Ephesians 4:15, 16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1)

  • From Keep In Step With The Spirit, J. I. Packer, page 156.

    What must be said … is that by biblical standards [a] passivity frame of reference is altogether wrong, for the Holy Spirit’s ordinary way of working in us is through the working of our own minds and wills. He moves us to act by causing us to see reasons for moving ourselves to act. Thus our conscious, rational selfhood, so far from being annihilated, is strengthened, and in reverent, resolute obedience we work out our salvation, knowing that God is at work in us to make us “….both …will and …work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). This is holiness, and in the process of perfecting it there is, properly speaking, no passivity at all.”

    …The Christian’s motto should not be “Let go and let God” but “Trust God and get going!” So if, for instance, you are fighting a bad habit, work out before God a strategy for ensuring that you will not fall victim to it again, ask him to bless your plan, and go out in his strength, ready to say no next time the temptation comes. Or if you are seeking to form a good habit, work out a strategy in the same way, ask God’s help, and then try your hardest. But passivity is never the way, and … overtones of passivity … are unbiblical and hostile to Christian maturity.

Learn more:

  1. Tim Challies: The Essential: Sanctification
  2. Nathan W. Bingham: What Is Sanctification?
  3. John Piper: Sanctification
  4. J. I. Packer: Sanctification
  5. J. C. Ryle: Justification and Sanctification: How Do They Differ?
  6. T. C. Hammond: Union With Christ and Sanctification
  7. S. Lewis Johnson: Riches of Divine Grace: Sanctification (mp3)

Related terms: 

Filed under Salvation.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. Credit will be given for any of these suggestions I use, too.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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Reader Comments (2)

I just want to say I just recently found your blog. Very indirectly, I might add-- I was on a blog, "Hear God Speak", then went to "Scum of the Earth" and finally meandered my way to your blog. I have really enjoyed everything I've read so far. Love the "term" day! I also read your potty training blog from time past. I came to the same conclusions you did after I totally failed with my daughter, basically having to begin again. Keep up the encouraging teaching and blogging! Love it!

March 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia Blackmon

Hello Patricia,

Nice to meet you. Welcome to my blog. :)

March 17, 2009 | Registered Commenterrebecca

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