A.W. PINK writes,
Like "salvation" itself—according to the use of the term is Scripture (see 2 Tim. 1:9, salvation in the past; Phil. 2:12, salvation in the present; Rom. 13:11, salvation in the future) and in the actual history of the redeemed—so sanctification must be considered under its three tenses. There is a very real sense in which all of God’s elect have already been sanctified: Jude 1; Hebrews 10:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:13. There is also a very real sense in which those of God’s people on earth are daily being sanctified: 2 Corinthians. 4:16; 7:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:23. And there is also a real sense in which the Christian’s (complete) sanctification is yetfuture: Romans 8:30; Hebrews 12:23; 1 John 3:2. Unless this threefold distinction be carefully borne in mind our thoughts are bound to be confused. Objectively, our sanctification is already an accomplished fact (1 Cor. 1:2), in which one saint shares equally with another. Subjectively, our sanctification is not complete in this life (Phil. 3:12) and varies considerably in different Christians, though the promise of Philippians 1:6 belongs alike to all of them.
Though our sanctification be complete in all its parts, yet it is not now perfect in its degrees. As the newborn babe possesses a soul and body, endowed with all their members, yet they are undeveloped and far from a state of maturity. So it is with the Christian, who (in comparison with the life to come) remains throughout this life but a "babe in Christ" (1 Pet. 2:2). We know but "in part" (1 Cor. 13:12), and we are sanctified but in part, for "there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed" (Josh. 13 :1). In the most gracious there remains a double principle: the flesh and the spirit, the old man and the new man. We are a mixture and a medley during our present state. There is a conflict between operating principles (sin and grace), so that every act is mixed: there is tin mixed with our silver and dross with our gold. Our best deeds are defiled, and therefore we continue to feed upon the Lamb with "bitter herbs" (Ex. 12:8).
Holiness in the heart discovers itself by godly sorrowings and godly aspirations. "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" (Matt. 5:4): "mourn" because of the swellings of pride, the workings of unbelief, the surging of discontent; "mourn" because of the feebleness of their faith, the coldness of their love, their lack of conformity to Christ. There is nothing which more plainly evidences a person to be sanctified than a broken and contrite heart—grieving over that which is contrary to holiness. Rightly did the Puritan John Owen say, "Evangelical repentance is that which carrieth the believing soul through all his failures, infirmities, and sins. He is not able to live one day without the constant exercise of it. It is as necessary unto the continuance of spiritual life as faith is. It is that continual, habitual, self-abasement which arises from a sense of the majesty and holiness of God, and the consciousness of our miserable failures." It is this which makes the real Christian so thankful for Romans 7, for he finds it corresponds exactly with his own inward experience.
The sanctified soul, then, is very far from being satisfied with the measure of experimental holiness which is yet his portion. He is painfully conscious of the feebleness of his graces, the leanness of his soul, and the defilements from his inward corruption. But, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matt. 5:6), or "they that are hungering and thirsting" as the Greek reads, being the participle of the present tense; intimating apresent disposition of the soul. Christ pronounces "blessed" (in contrast from those under "the curse") they who are hungering and thirsting after His righteousness imparted as well as imputed, who thirst after the righteousness of sanctification as well as the righteousness of justification—i.e., the Spirit infusing into the soul holy principles, supernatural graces, spiritual qualities, and then strengthening and developing the same. Such has been the experiences of the saints in all ages, "As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, 0 God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?" (Ps. 42:1, 2).