When we read the New Testament, we quickly come across an apparent contradiction. We are already declared to be holy or set apart as his possession; “a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9) At the same time we are told that we are not yet holy, and admonished to become holy in all that we do? (1 Peter 1:15) So which is it? We can reconcile this apparent contradiction by realising that sanctification (the process of becoming holy) has two dimensions: “positional and conditional sanctification)”.
Positional sanctification speaks of our position before God as those who are in Christ. Through Christ’s work on our behalf, God has pronounced us as holy. We belong to God & that is rock solid unalterable reality, that is based in the finished work of Christ extended to us by a gracious heavenly father. This status is not affected by our day to day attitudes, conduct or feelings. Our relationship with the Father has a solid footing.
Conditional sanctification: This is a matter that relates to our present spiritual condition and level of Christian maturity. This conditional sanctification speaks of the way in which the Spirit works in us to help us to bring into reality in our lives those positional realities that God has already declared over us in Christ. This kind of sanctification is fluctuating, variable subjective and changing. It rises and falls on our obedience and disobedience. But if our lives are on track we will observe genuine observable maturing over time, we will be becoming more Christlike.
So know who you are in Christ, and grow up into your identity in Christ.
Grace and peace from Marcus
(These words taken from Stanley Grenz’s Created for Community)