If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Buchanan uses this verse to argue for the inevitability of new conduct in those who are brought to life by the Spirit, [Buchanan, The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit, 240–241.] without denying the fact of the “constant conflict with indwelling sin in their lives.” [Buchanan, The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit, 245.] The reality of indwelling sin in the life of believers, their positional sanctification in Christ and by the Spirit, and the impossibility of perfection in this life are important factors that define the gradual sanctification those believers are involved in. But what does this gradual sanctification mean in more concrete terms? It can be called transformation or renewal, where these words reflect the sense of a process with “an aim of elimination of all sin and complete conformation to the image of God’s own Son, to be holy as the Lord is holy.” [Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 143.]
The New Testament explains this process in language related to family that is closely tied to the Trinity. God the Father is the one who sanctifies Christians, so that they may belong to His family. He has sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ their older Brother (cf. Rom. 8:29), who through His work, reconciles them to God. The Father and the Son have sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in them so that they may follow Christ’s footsteps and become like Him. This triune nature of God’s involvement in the sanctification of believers is clearly expressed in 1 Peter 1:2, as the apostle states that they are God’s elect “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” In this text, “the Spirit’s sanctifying role as the link between God’s election, obedience, and the cleansing provided through Christ” [Payne, Already Sanctified, 131.] is evident. To make it short, the Holy Spirit who indwells believers is the agent of their transformation to the likeness of Christ so that God’s eternal plan may be fulfilled.
The Spirit and Renewal, Part 2: The Mode & Dynamics of Progressive Sanctification
By SHERIF FAHIM
PURITAN REFORMED JOURNAL
Volume 14, Number 2 • July 2022
William VanDoodewaard and Joel R. Beeke, Editors