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Our Absolute and Progressive Sanctification


Our Absolute and Progressive Sanctification

Can you imagine how chaotic the Christian life would be like if we believed on Christ to save us, but we had to keep ourselves saved by our own sinless life?

Because of false teachings most non-believers have the misunderstanding that Christians are to be “perfect” once they believe on Christ as their Savior. They are led to think that all Christians are hypocrites because they are not “perfect” in their daily life and practice. The truth is Christians are “saved sinners” who by the grace of God are striving to live a life that is pleasing to their Savior. Our goal is perfection, but it will not be reached in this life. We will be presented “complete,” “mature,” “perfect” before our heavenly Father in heaven at the end of this life on earth. Only then will we experience sinless perfection.

I thank God that the same grace that saved me, also keeps me saved.

Every blessing in the Christian life is ours in Christ for all eternity from the moment we believed on Him. They are ours all because of the pure grace of God. Yes, we have everything in Christ.

How tragic if we were to trust Christ for salvation, but had to trust in ourselves for sanctification. We would have a religion that would teach that God only forgives sin committed up to the time when we accept Christ as our savior, but after that we would have a lifelong probation proving that we were saved, and would have to forfeit our justification and reconciliation with God when we sinned. If we did not repent of unknown sin in our lives we would forfeit our salvation. We would be in a constant need of a “second blessing” or a further work of grace to keep us saved. We would have to be saved over and over again. Our salvation would depend upon us rather than the perfect, all-sufficient atoning death of Jesus Christ.

The problem with a legalistic philosophy of Christian living is one of sinless perfection. There are no sinless Christians this side of heaven (1 John 1:8-2:1; Phil. 3:8-14).

We are totally dependent upon the grace of God for Christian living. The same grace that eternally saved us the day we believed on Christ as our Savior enables us to persevere in the Christian life for all eternity.

Everything we need to live in a manner pleasing to God is found in the perfect provision Christ has already made for us. We are eternally linked to Christ as the Head, the Vine, and the Life. There are no bounds, no limits to the enabling presence of Christ to the believer. The believer has everything in Christ. Therefore, the more we are occupied with Christ the more power we have for practical everyday deliverance from the power of sin and temptation.

The more I am occupied with Christ the more I know by experience the love of God shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit.

Occupation with Christ in the power of the presence of the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of righteousness in our life, devotion to the Lord and love for His Word.

God has not promised what He cannot produce in the believer’s daily life.

Sanctification in the Christian’s life is both absolute and progressive.

We have been set apart to God and are perfected forever in His sight by the one perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. We are accepted in the Beloved and eternally linked to Him.

All Christians are separated to God in Christ. With such a relationship with Him comes an awesome accountability to live responsibly. God has sanctified, set apart the Christian. He has reserved us for His holy purpose. Our sanctification is also a progressive work of divine grace upon the soul that is justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

By progressive sanctification we mean the Christian believer is gradually cleansed from the corruption of his nature, and is at length presented “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”

Sanctification in the Christian’s life is an act of God’s pure grace. Holiness and sanctification are equivalent terms in the Bible.

Hebrews 10:14 reads, “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” The Christian has been declared to be perfected forever. The sanctified believer is forever perfected, and therefore can never lost his sanctification.

Moreover, even those who have been sanctified by the Holy Spirit are exhorted to be holy (1 Pet. 3:15; Heb. 12:14; Phil. 3:13-16; John 17:19). “Be holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet, 1:1, 2, 15, 16). We, who have been sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, are exhorted to be holy. God expects us to live holy lives, but that does not imply that we have already arrived in our daily practice. Therefore, we are to be progressively sanctified through the Word of God.

The Bible does not teach that our old nature is eradicated. We will never be sinlessly perfect in this life, but we are nevertheless separated to God in Christ Jesus and therefore sanctified. It is from this work of grace that we have the resources to live a life pleasing unto the Lord today.

From this position of separation unto God we live our daily life seeking to be more and more conformed to the likeness of Christ. It is this divine life within us that enables us to live Christ every day.

The one perfect cleansing sacrifice of Christ at Calvary sets us absolutely apart in God’s sight forever.



Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006





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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.


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