Progressive sanctification means we are continually being transformed by the Holy Spirit into the likeness of Jesus Christ. The Spirit and the sinful, forgiven human are in a partnership. There is responsibility by the forgiven sinner to participate in his sanctification. "Kill the old man" as Paul would say. On the other hand, we cannot accomplish this without the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit. We can't change ourselves for the good, only He can. But we do bear responsibility. How does this dual union work?
We present our bodies to God for Him to send the Spirit to sanctify. (Romans 6:13; 12:1). We surrender to the Spirit's work. However we also listen to our consciences, choosing right over wrong. We wash ourselves in the word, actively absorbing His statutes. Like Joseph, we choose to flee immorality. As Philippians 2:2 says, we work out our sanctification in fear and trembling.
In the transformation process of sanctification, we go back to the verse at the top. We are transformed into His likeness. I think of the old married couples who wind up looking like each other. Though Jesus our Groom is not being transformed into the Bride's likeness, we are being transformed into His.
Anyway, the old married couples looking alike ... that is really true. It's not just perception. Popular Science asked,
|American Gothic, Grant Wood, 1930|
"Through the years, couples' wrinkles form in the same places because of a lifetime of shared emotions, he wrote in the journal Motivation and Emotion".
Why do old couples look alike?
"...[T]he study also offered some answers on why couples may look alike. To start, consider that life experiences can end up being reflected physically. Someone who is happy and smiles more will develop the facial muscles and wrinkles related to smiling. The years of experience of an old couple's marriage, happy or otherwise, would then be reflected in their faces."
Just think, if two people in a marriage share enough experiences over time, their experience shows on their faces and they end up looking like each other. If that happens on this sinful earth, through mere biology, what will we look like as we continually submit to the Spirit? What power the word has to transform us! What power the Spirit has to metamorphose us into His likeness! How glorious that he adopts us and transforms us into His image.
"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." (Romans 8:29)