If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. – (GALATIANS 5:25)
Progressive sanctification is not a partnership with the Spirit in the sense that we each—the believer and the Holy Spirit— do our respective tasks. Rather, we work as He enables us to work. His work lies behind all our work and makes our work possible.
The Holy Spirit can and does work within us apart from any conscious response on our part. We see this in the initial act of sanctification when He creates within us a new heart and a new disposition toward God and His will. He’s not dependent on us to do this.
But we’re dependent on Him to do our work; we cannot do anything apart from Him. In the process of sanctification there are certain things only the Spirit can do, and certain things He has given us to do. For example, only He can create in our hearts the desire to obey God, but He does not obey for us. We must do that, but we can do so only as He enables us.
So we must depend on the Spirit to do within us what only He can do. And we must equally depend on Him to enable us to do what He has given us to do. Whether His work or our work, we’re dependent on Him.
We aren’t just dependent on Him; we’re desperately dependent. Because we so often equate Christlike character with ordinary morality, we fail to realize how impossible it is for us to attain any degree of conformity to Christ by ourselves. But if we take seriously the many Christlike character traits we’re to put on, we see how impossible it is to grow in Christlikeness apart from the sanctifying influence and power of the Spirit.