Martin Luther gave the following analogy: When we are justified, it is as though a doctor has just administered a sure and certain remedy for a fatal disease. Though the patient may still endure a temporary struggle with the residual effects of his illness, the outcome is no longer in doubt. The physician pronounces the patient cured even though a rehabilitation process must still be carried out.
So it is with our justification. In Christ, God pronounces us just by the imputation of the merits of His Son. Along with that declaration, God administers something to us; He gives us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit begins immediately to work within us to bring us to holy living.
The New Testament contains a ringing paradox with respect to sanctification. The Bible says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for God is at work within you both to will and to do” (Phil. 2:12b–13a). Notice that there are two agents working here. We are called to work and God promises to work as well. We call this activity synergism. It is a cooperative effort between God and man.
Are you cooperating with God in the process of sanctification or are you depending on Him to do it all?
Passages for Further Study
2 Corinthians 6:2