What Does Progressive Sanctification Look Like?

Mack: Nathan, what does progressive sanctification look like in a believer’s life?

Nathan: I think of the verse in Peter where he talks about growing in grace in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. You know, it is helpful to think about what growth is like. Growth in kids. Growth in plants. Growth is something that from day to day, you cannot see a dramatic amount of change, but over longer time periods there is a lot of change. And growth in our sanctification, similar to that we become increasingly conformed to the image of Christ. We have our minds renewed, as Romans 12 describes. We begin to think more like the Lord would have us to think. We respond to the Spirit and deal with the sin that comes up. Apply Romans 6 to sin issues in our lives over which the Lord promises that we should have victory that sin should not have dominion over us. We are increasingly dealing with matters of sin. Our life is increasingly brought under the control of the Holy Spirit. We come to live more like the example and teaching of our Lord in Scripture. As we do that, it is progressive sanctification.

Paul: Everything my brother said, I am totally in agreement on. There is one thing that I would like to add. That last year was kind of brought to my attention and it has really been helpful to me in sanctification. When I look at my life over the last 35 years, when I was younger I thought I would have been further along than I am right now. I really thought I would be more like Christ than I am. I thought my sanctification would have grown and continued in an extraordinary fashion. And I don’t see that. I do see that I’ve grown. I always want to make it so clear that I preach and I want to be sincere but you and I are exactly alike. There are no super saints. Remember what I said? There is only one hero in this story and it is Jesus Christ. But there is something in my life that has grown in the last 35 years tremendously. That is part of sanctification that I’ve almost never heard anyone mention. Part of sanctification is growing in our recognition of our need of him. When I first became a Christian, I said, “I needed him.” I had no clue what that meant. Over the years, because of my weakness, because of seeing I did not become all that I had hoped I would become. There is one thing that has grown in me, I’ve become so convinced that it is 100% Jesus Christ and his grace. Absolutely everything. That his atonement was sufficient. And I recognize that. And there is one statement that John Newton made in the Olney Hymn. He basically says, “I will have one boast, above all other Christians….” If you take all the other Christians in heaven, and I will have something boast about more than all of them, and I so identify with what he said. “That of all of God’s children I will have needed Him the most.” And I think that is an aspect of sanctification.