Sanctification and Perfection
The Adventist understanding of sanctification and perfection is that by faith, we are in Christ, and He in us. Sanctification and perfection are the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but first and foremost they are about character and the maturity of one’s relationship with God and others, not behavior (although behavior is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in one’s life). Both are progressive and never end. We are to contemplate Jesus’ life and character because He is our example to follow, yet Jesus’ example will never completely be reproduced in our lives. The closer we get to Him, the more sinful we see ourselves. By faith and union with Christ, power to live a life of obedience is given to those who surrender their lives to God.
A biblical and balanced view of sanctification and perfection avoids some dangerous pitfalls. On the one hand, some think that Christian growth in grace and obedience to God and His will are optional, since justification forgives sins past, present, and future. This attitude can easily lead to a life lived without Christ. On the other hand, some think that obedience causes one’s salvation and that without it one will be eternally lost. Such an understanding is misleading, because it denies the lingering presence of sin in human nature and unconsciously attempts to add to Christ’s all-sufficient sacrifice. This attitude easily leads to legalism and perfectionism. Both pitfalls are to be avoided.
Christians should rest secure in the love of God and be assured of their acceptance, in Christ, by the Father. In Christ, we are justified, sanctified, and perfected. In Christ, and by faith, we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life to the glory of God.
Theology and Christian Philosophy
Fortin, Denis, "Sanctification and Perfection" (2020). Faculty Publications. 1338.
FAR Report 2020