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In my opinion, positional holiness and progressive holiness are two of the three phases of the Christian's sanctification -- or the process of achieving the perfect holiness that God requires. Positional holiness occurs at the time of initial salvation, when God imputes the perfect righteousness of Christ to the saved individual on the basis of that individual's faith in Christ's sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection as the full atonement for the individual's sin. This places the individual in a new position in relation to God (that is, saved rather than lost), and results in the individual being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, the individual also still retains his prior sin nature, which causes him to fall short of perfection in his actual thoughts, words, and deeds (and will continue to do so throughout this life, although this never provides the individual with an excuse for yielding to that nature). Progressive holiness then occurs throughout the individual's subsequent life as a result of willfully and consciously submitting his sin nature more and more to the inner presence of the Holy Spirit, and approaching ever closer to Christ's perfection (which, again, however, will not be fully achieved until ultimate sanctification or glorification in God's presence, of which the Holy Spirit was given to the Christian by God as a guarantee or pledge, as noted by Paul in Ephesians 1:14).
We are positionally holy and set free from every sin by the finished work on the cross. We know that we still sin (1 John 1:7) Progressive holiness is the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one’s life. It is the same as growing in the Lord (2 Peter 3:18) or spiritual maturity. God started the work of making us like Christ, and He is continuing it (Philippians 1:6). God granted us justification, a once-for-all, positional holiness in Christ. Now, God guides us to maturity, a practical, progressive holiness. In the future, God will give us glorification, a permanent, ultimate holiness.
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