1 Cor 1:30 “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”
The language of Scripture is so important isn’t it? Words have meaning, great meaning and that is why we study the language. We communicate with one another using words and the clearer we are the better the communication. The Lord has given us His Word, both in written form, the Scripture and in Christ Jesus who is the Word. I have been shown by a godly teacher that we should always use biblical language when we speak of biblical truths.
Justification and sanctification are both positional and complete in Christ for the believer. To sanctify something or someone is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. In our case we are set apart or sanctified by God, the Master Potter, for His intended purpose. It is a continuing work of the Spirit, not a progressive work and certainly not a work of our own. While it is true that believers grow in spiritual knowledge and maturity (‘growing in grace’) that growth is not defined as a progression (advancement) from a lesser degree of holiness to a greater degree of holiness.
Progression means to advance from one thing to another and so I believe that word causes confusion (it isn’t a biblical word). The word continue however is used consistently in the Word of God. Jesus tells us to continue in His Word (John 8:31) and to continue in His love (John 15:9). Paul instructed and warned so that we would continue in the truth of the Gospel (Gal 2:5) and we are exhorted to continue in the faith, grounded and settled (Col 1:23). We are to continue in prayer (Col 4:2) in the things we have learned (1 Ti 3:14) and we are to let brotherly love continue (Heb 13:1)
Continue means to abide and Jesus tells us to abide in Him (John 15:4) and that when He was gone He would send the comforter who would abide with us forever (John 14:16). These are all works of the Spirit and we can take great comfort of His working in us because the Scripture attests to that working:
Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”
To trust in the working of the Spirit is confidence that God will not let me ‘work out my own salvation with fear and trembling’ in my own strength for “it is God who works in you to will and to do for his own good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13) To trust in the working of the Spirit is to have confidence that we are a people created unto good works which the Lord has prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
I think that part of the difference in thought is that there are those who say “we must do” and I believe that ‘we will do’. The must do speaks to my flesh and becomes law, the will do speaks to the spirit and is grace. The must do speaks to my flesh and becomes about me, the will do speaks to the spirit and becomes about Him. We truly can rest in the working of the Holy Spirit in us and in the face of the Scripture that tells us that “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” Galatians 2:20
“Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord”, for what the Lord requires, He provides.
Grace and Peace!