Tag Archives: Progressive holiness

Holiness: Instant and progressive

Holiness Complex Like A Puzzle - Pictured As Word Holiness On A Puzzle Pieces To Show That Holiness Can Be Difficult And Needs Cooperating Pieces That Fit Together, 3d Illustration

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Many Christians I’ve met don’t like to use the word, holiness, except if a person is from the Wesleyan tradition. See: ‘Renewing Holiness: The Wesleyan Holiness Connection’.

How should a Christian respond to this statement? ‘I don’t see holiness as something to be chased. It is something that is innately in-grafted into our being because we are first created from the source that is Holy’.[1]

This statement was made around a discussion of Hebrews 12:14, ‘Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord’ (NET).[2]

Are Christians to pursue holiness or ‘make every effort’ (NIV), ‘try your best’ (NIRV), or ‘strive for’ (ESV)?

Chase holiness as if hunting

The word used for ‘pursue’ in Heb 12:14 is diwkw and in the Greek it means ‘to put in rapid motion; to pursue; to follow, pursue the direction of’ (Strong’s). Leading NT Greek grammarian from the 20th century, Dr A T Robertson, indicates that diwkw means ‘a chase as if in a hunt’ (Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol 5, p. 437).

So, all Christians are to pursue / chase after peace with Christians and holiness.
What was stated about hagiasmos (holiness) being innate is correct for the Christian because this sanctification, which means separation, commences when believers are justified, born again (
1 Cor 1:2; 2 Thess 2:13-14).

However, it is an action word that indicates a process where we are separated to God initially, but pursuing sanctification is something we do our entire lives with the conduct we demonstrate in being Christians – growing to be more like Jesus. It will be complete when we are in the presence of the Lord at death.
By faith in Christ we are holy but need to pursue it for a lifetime as we become more holy before God.
Progressive sanctification is sound biblical teaching, but it begins at the moment of salvation and then needs to be pursued.


[1] Christianforums.net 2018. Are Christians called to be holy and perfect? PrayingMantisRcutiepie#61. Available at: https://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/are-christians-called-to-be-holy-and-perfect.75394/page-4#post-1452691 (Accessed 11 April 2018).

[2] This was my response at OzSpen#67.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 September 2021.