What is Sanctification?

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Our hearts should be thrilled to understand the true Bible doctrine of sanctification.

Paul says our past associations, before salvation, were with the world, the flesh and the Devil,

“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (The Devil), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation (manner of living) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh …” (Ephesians 2:2-3)

Basically, sanctification means “to be set apart.” We as the regenerated children of God are not just sanctified apart from the world, the flesh and the Devil, we also are sanctified unto God Our Father.

Sanctification is not a negative matter as most religion presents it with its “Don’t do this” and “Don’t do that.” Rather, true sanctification is the positive truth that… God wants us for Himself as a sacred possession, much as a bridegroom considers his bride his very own in a special, sacred way.

Bible sanctification is a twofold truth, first affecting both our standing before God and then affecting our spiritual state or condition.

  1. Our standing is that we are Sanctified!

In one sense, every true believer in Christ has already been sanctified, or consecrated to God, by the operation of the Holy Spirit the moment they first believed. Thus, we read:

“…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of (by) the Spirit…” (2 Thessalonians. 2: 13).

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of (by) the Spirit…” (2 Peter1:2).

This aspect of sanctification has nothing to do with our conduct. God did it. Sanctification begins with Him. Thus, Paul could write to even the careless fleshly Corinthian believers and say: “Ye are sanctified” (1 Cor. 6:11; cf. Acts 20:32; 26:18), i.e., “God has set you apart for Himself.”

Sanctification is based on the redemptive is a finished work of the cross on our behalf.

“We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10)

  1. Our spiritual state after salvation is that of becoming sanctified in our daily living.

But now God would have us appreciate this fact and conduct ourselves accordingly, consecrating ourselves ever more completely to Him. This then is practical, progressive sanctification.

“For this is the will of God, even (that is) your sanctification” (I Thes. 4:3).

Hence Paul’s benediction: “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly (completely)” (I Thes. 5:23), and his exhortation to Timothy to be “a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet [fit] for the Master’s use” (2 Timothy 2:21).

How can believers become more wholly sanctified to God in their practical experience?

This comes progressively by studying and meditating on His written “word.” Our Lord Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17), and our Apostle Paul declares that “Christ… loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word” (Eph. 5:25-26).

By Cornelius Stam as adapted by Arthur J Licursi