7. The Progressive Sanctification of Believers
Through the Work of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity, coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father and the Son, possessor of all the divine perfections, and worthy of all worship (MaL 28:19; Acts 5:3–4; 28:25–26; 1 Cor 12:4–6; 2 Cor 13:14; Heb 9:14). The Spirit’s work begun in regeneration is continued in the progressive sanctification of the believer, whereby the Spirit supernaturally conforms the soul of man to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; Phil 2:13; 1 Thess 5:23). The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ by revealing His glory to His saints through the ordinary means of grace, the spiritual sight of which glory transforms them into Christ’s likeness (John 16:14; 2 Cor 3:18; 4:17–18; Heb 11:1, 24–27; 12:2; 1 John 3:2). As a result of the work of the Spirit in the heart, the believer mortifies sin and bears the fruit of the Spirit’s sanctifying work in righteous thoughts, affections, words, and deeds (Rom 8:12– 17; Gal 5:16–25; Eph 4:22–24; Col 3:8–17).
Through the Ministry of the Word
The Holy Spirit illumines the mind of every believer to understand and apply the Scripture which He inspired (Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 2:6–13; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20–21; 1 John 2:27). Because the Word of God infallibly reveals the glory of God, the Holy Spirit employs the Scriptures as a means of grace to sanctify His people (Exod 33:18; 34:5–7; 1 Sam 3:21; Pss 19:7–11; 119:11; John 17:17; Acts 20:32; 2 Tim 3:16–17; 1 Pet 2:2).
Through Other Means of Grace
While the Holy Spirit is the immediate cause of the holiness of the saints, He effects the internal, supernatural transformation of sanctification through the use of means which the believer must appropriate (Phil 2:12–13). In addition to the Word of God (John 17:17), the Spirit employs the following means to sanctify the believer: prayer (Heb 4:16), fellowship in the body of Christ (Heb 3:12–13), corporate worship (Heb 10:24–25), the observance of the ordinances (MaL 28:19–20; 1 Cor 11:25–26), providence biblically interpreted (Rom 8:28–29; Jas 1:2–4), and faith-filled obedience (John 15:10; cf. 14:21).