Sanctification is often thought of as a lifetime process of changing and growing into the righteousness of Jesus. And that's true. The goal is to reach the maturity of the full stature that is Christ's. At the same time and also true, is the fact that we've already obtained such perfection. Contradictory? No. One statement is subjective; the other objective.
We Christians are innocent in the eyes of God, for Jesus' righteousness has been imputed (credited) to us. As such, when God looks at us still sinners He sees Jesus. It's as though we never sinned. However, we know that in and of ourselves our sin nature still remains.
This is where sanctification comes in, because God, of course, isn't going to leave us in the sinful stage in which we come to Him. By His sanctifying grace we are enabled to grow. That growth begins when we accept Jesus. At that point we become a new baby, a new creature. In other words, we become a member of a new race of beings. We become the only humans with two natureshuman and divine; just like Jesus.
Sanctification is the partaking of God's grace, of His divine nature. And to the extent or degree that we partake of His nature, that same degree of His righteousness is imparted to us. The more we surrender to the divine nature, the more the human sinful nature is lessened. Of course, the idea is to crucify it altogether. This is the lifetime process spoken of earlier.
That process, however, is subjective. It is what we incrementally, or by leaps and bounds, experience. In this manner, perfection in and of ourselves is only reached when Jesus returns and we receive our glorified bodies.
God already sees us as complete. This is so because of the divine nature in us; that being the nature of Jesus Himself. By the whole of Jesus being in us, we are rendered perfect; no matter the stage of spiritual growth we are subjectively experiencing. The totality of Jesus' perfect holy qualities are imparted to us; not gradually, but instantly when we first become converted.
I cite Hebrew 10: 14 for proof "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." Those sanctified, meaning set aside for holy use, are the believing ones in Jesus.
This, we being perfect, objectively is an accomplished fact.
More than anything, sanctification means we in Christ; Christ in us. He is our sanctification (1Cor. 1:30).
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