Sanctification: What Is It And What Does The Bible Say
Sanctification separates us from everyone else.
The universal meaning of sanctification is the state of proper functioning. To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. For example, a pen is sanctified when used to write, and eyeglasses are sanctified when used to improve sight. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. Therefore, human beings are sanctified when they live according to Gods design and purpose.
The Greek word translated sanctification, hagiasmos, means holiness. To sanctify, therefore, means to make holy. In one sense, only God is holy. He is separate, distinct, and no human being or thing shares the holiness of Gods essential nature. There is one God. Still, Scripture speaks about holy things.
Moreover, God calls human beings holy, as sacred as righteous. Another word for a holy person is saint, meaning a sanctified one. The opposite of sanctified is profane.
What Is Sanctification In The Lives Of Christians
Sanctification is a theological term for basically Christian living, it’s called progressive sanctification. But if you step back and look at how the Bible uses the term, it’s a little different actually. The New Testament, when it talks about sanctification, it just means being set apart. And that happens when a person becomes a Christian, God sets that person apart. The older translations call that being a saint. So I’m Saint Andrew, Saint Andrew because I’m set apart, I’m a holy one of God because He saved me from my sins.
Now, throughout the Christian life, you think of it as that past event, the Christian life, and the future. That past tense, I am saved, I am sanctified. Right now I am being saved, I am being sanctified. And future tense, I will be saved, I will be sanctified, that’s glorification. So usually the term sanctification is talking about that middle progressive sanctification of gradual growth. And there are several major views on this, different models of sanctification. There’s a Wesleyan view that says basically a Christian can live in a state of perfection, Christian perfection, not divine perfection, not angelic perfection, Christian perfection, where basically they live free from known sin.
Reaction To The Reformed View
Hoekema takes an in-depth look at Col. 3:9-11, Eph. 4:22-26, and Rom. 6:6 and concludes that “the person who is in Christ is no longer an old man or old self, but is now a new self” This statement is accurate with regard to our position in Christ, but less than accurate when describing our day-to-day experience. To be sure, Rom. 6:6 teaches that the old man was crucified. I would also agree that the putting off of the old self is described as a past event in Col. 3:9-10. Paul is clear that at conversion, Christians are freed from the life they used to live under the rule of sin. In this positional sense, the old self has truly passed away.
Having said this, there are numerous passages that suggest that our old lifestyle is not easily put off and needs to be resisted. Paul urges his audience in Romans 6:11, for example, to consider themselves “to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” In Colossians 3:10, Paul says the new self is going through an ongoing process of renewal. This theme is repeated in Ephesians 4:23 where Paul urges: “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Verse 23, which Hoekema describes as an ongoing process, comes in the middle of a discussion about putting off the old self and putting on the new. If verse 23 describes a process, should we read verses 22 and 24 any differently? The plain sense of Ephesians 4:20-24 implies that Christians must regularly lay aside the habits associated with the old self and put those associated with the new.
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The Process Of Sanctification
So how does a Christian reach for sanctification? Some, like Pentecostals, believe sanctification happens instantaneously alongside justification and the Christian is immediately set apart from sin. Most believe it is a process that takes the entirety of our lives. The Bible speaks frequently about Gods sanctifying work in the Christians life, but what does the process look like? John MacArthur highlights three key steps in the sanctification process :
The Reality Of Sanctification
“God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” Our initial salvation is wrought by faith on our part and the sanctifying work of the Spirit in response to our faith, cleansing us from all uncleanness.
“And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Yeshua and the Spirit of our God.”
- 1 Corinthians 6:11
There has been a cleansing, a work of setting the believer apart from all that constituted his past life, making him righteous or justified with Yahweh God.There are three aspects of the work of the Spirit here, they are – the washing of regeneration, the work of separation/sanctification and the justification of the believer.Paul says to them, “You are sanctified”. It was accomplished at conversion.
In writing to the assembly at Corinth, he says, “To them that are sanctified in Yeshua the Messiah, called to be saints” 1 Corinthians 1: 2They were sanctified. but they are called to be saints, to go on to maturity and be perfected in holiness.
In chapter three of this same letter, Paul says to them that they are carnal because they had envy, strife and divisions among themselves They were sanctified by the work of the Spirit, yet they lacked the outworking of it in their lives. They were not continuing on in maintaining a state of sanctification.
- 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 7: 1
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How Do You Use Sanctified In A Sentence
The Holy Bible is holy because it is based on Christ and is sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Blood was shed on them as a result of sacrifices and burnt offerings, thus they were sanctified. As a result of the prayers of the believers, the Church is sanctified. It is also possible that they may be sanctified by the truth as well.
Sanctification Is A Community Project
Though sanctification is personal, it is also deeply corporate. Christians are called into a body, a group of other believers, in order to experience the work of the Spirit in our lives together. Christ died for a people. Apart from the body of Christ, sanctification is impossible. This is the way God designed the Christian life.
There is no such thing as a growing Christian apart from an active life in the body of Christ. This is so because a clear evidence of sanctification is that we are thinking of Christ and others more than ourselves. When we are not overly preoccupied with ourselves then we can rest assured that our sanctification is progressing. Our sanctification is intimately bound up in our love for and service to others. Those who are in Christ are forgiven sinners, sufferers who find shelter from lifes storms, and saints in process. And, we are in this together.
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God’s Role And Man’s Role In Sanctification
To reach this goal, both man and God play a part. God set our sanctification in motion by electing us for conformity to Him and scripture indicates that all three persons of the trinity are involved. We read, for example, that the Father disciplines us and sanctifies us by the truth , the Son cleanses the church through the word , and the Holy Spirit is responsible for our washing, rebirth and renewal . The role, or roles, that each member of the Godhead plays in sanctification are not compartmentalized “sanctification ascribed to the triune God without any designation of persons.”
Sanctification is accomplished by God, but it still requires the cooperation of men and women. We must fight against sin, express gratitude toward God, and offer ourselves fully to him. We also should imitate the example of Christ .
The interplay between man’s role and God’s role in conforming us to Christ is seen clearly in passages like Philippians 2:12-13: ” work out your salvation in fear and trembling…. for it is God at who is at work in you to will and work for his good pleasure…” But Hoekema carefully points out that the relationship between our work and God’s work shouldn’t be thought of strictly in terms of cooperation. Instead, he follows John Murray who said, “God’s working in us is not suspended because we work, nor our working suspended because God works… the relation is that because God works we work.”
The Doctrine Of Sanctification
While the language of sanctification in theological terminology has focused on the progressive aspect of growing holiness in the Christian life, the Bible uses the term sanctification to point towards the status as consecrated and holy that we have in Christ through our union with him.
In theological language, the term sanctification has largely referred to something that we do, normally our growth in holiness. However, the Bible uses the term sanctification in a more definitive way, indicating the holy status that we have already through our union with Christ. This consecrated status forms the foundation from which we grow in holiness and godliness in our lives and relationships we strive to be what we are. However, because in theological discussion these categories have merged, theologians often call the status of holiness that we have in Christ definitive or positional sanctification, while our pursuits of Christian virtue and personal godliness are called progressive sanctification. The danger is that Christians often forget the definitive nature of sanctification and only focus on the progressive aspect of daily life.
To summarize, in New Testament usage, sanctification language is used to describe our consecrated status in Christ. Personal godliness is usually spoken of in other categories, whereas in theological discussion all this is usually just lumped together.
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Acts 2 Acts 8 Acts 19
In a few passages in Acts, we find believers receiving the Spirit well after they are converted. Doesn’t this imply that a post-conversion blessing of the Spirit is possible? I would say it’s unlikely for the following reasons:
Sanctification Takes Place In Two Parts
Sanctification is the cooperative work of God and Christians by which ongoing transformation into greater Christlikeness occurs. Such maturing transpires particularly through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God . Sanctification is not about perfection, but persistence. Fighting sin is a lifelong endeavor. The believer cooperates with the Holy Spirit working in them, their works being an expression of gratitude for their salvation. Sanctification, therefore, begins at the moment of conversion.
The Bible gives us two ways of understanding this doctrine. First, sanctification is definitive. This is Gods work of setting believers apart from non-believers. Even the newest believer who trusts in Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross is considered a saint . In this sense, Christians are sanctified in the present , dead to sin , crucified with Christ , and similar definitive statements. When we trust in Christ by faith we are set apart in Christ and considered to be saints based on the work of Christ for us.
Sanctification is also progressive. This active growth proceeds from the life we live by faith in Jesus Christ. Continuing to trust in the finished work of Christ, we grow in Christlikeness by cooperating with the Holy Spirit in seeking to live more faithfully in accordance with Gods word.
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Other Examples Of Gods Sanctification In Israel
God made it very clear that He wanted His people to be holy and obedient and not get involved with the pagan religions of the nations around them.
And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I am casting out before you for they commit all these things, and therefore I abhor them. But I have said to you, You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples .
Another way God wanted Israel to be separate was in what they ate: You shall therefore distinguish between clean animals and unclean, between unclean birds and clean, and you shall not make yourselves abominable by beast or by bird, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean . And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine .
God also was very clear that before priests could serve in His tabernacle, the priests and the tabernacle and furnishings had to be consecrated and sanctified : And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory. So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and His sons to minister to Me as priests. I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God .
What Does Sanctification Mean Biblically
The Biblical meaning and definition of the word Sanctification are: The process of separating ourselves from the profane things of this world, of consecrating and dedicating ourselves to God, and then of purifying ourselves from sin through repentance and renunciation to renew our soul and cleanse our spirit.
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What Is The Sanctification Process
Sanctification is that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost, received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement cleanseth from all sin whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but are washed from its pollution, saved from its power, and are enabled, through grace, to love God
What Does Sanctification Mean
Sanctification is the result of having the Holy Spirit indwelling in the believer. It can only happen after a sinner has repented of their sin and accepted the love and offer of forgiveness from Jesus Christ.
The definition of sanctify is, to make holy set apart as sacred consecrate to purify or free from sin to impart religious sanction to render legitimate or binding to entitle to reverence or respect to make productive of or conducive to spiritual blessing. In the Christian faith, this process of being made holy is the internal transformation of becoming more like Jesus.
As God incarnate, made human, Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, completely aligned with the will of the Father. All other people, by contrast, were born into sin, and do not know how to live perfectly in the will of God. Even believers, who have been saved from living under the condemnation and judgment brought on by sinful thoughts and actions, still face temptations, make mistakes, and struggle with the sinful part of their natures. To shape each individual to be less earthly and more heavenly, the Holy Spirit engages in a process of conviction and guidance. Over time, if the believer is willing to be molded, that process will change the person from the inside out.
The New Testament has a great deal to say about sanctification. These verses include, but are not limited to:
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