What does the Bible say?
Sanctification is another very important phase of redemption. It means – ‘to set apart, consecrate, to make holy, to make free from sin, to purify, to make productive of spiritual blessing.’ Two thoughts are prominent in its definition: (1) – separation from evil; (2) – dedication to God and His service.
It is first mentioned in Genesis 2:3 when God sanctified the seventh day of the week, setting it apart as holy, a Sabbath day of rest. The Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ. Mt. 11:28, “Come unto me…and I will give you rest.”
We will view sanctification as instantaneous, progressive, and complete.
INSTANTANEOUS SANCTIFICATION takes place the very moment we believe and receive Jesus Christ. We are separated from sin and separated unto God. In Jesus’ prayer to His Father in John 17, He prayed, that the Father would sanctify all those who will believe in Him (Jesus). The Father answered that prayer, I Cor. 6:11 – “And such were some of you (unrighteous); but ye are washed…ye are sanctified…ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” By the simple act of faith in Christ, the believer is at once put into a state of sanctification. In that state of sanctification, the believer is to grow until he reaches the fulness of the measure of the stature of Christ (Eph. 4:13).
PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION: It is God’s will that we “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” - II Pet. 3:18. In this progressive growth, we are exhorted to “increase and abound” - I Thess. 3:12. “Furthermore, then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” I Thess:4:1 and also verse 10. Can we accomplish this in ourselves? NO. II Cor. 3:18 informs us that as we behold the glory of the Lord in His Word, we are being changed into His image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Transformed from one degree of glory to another by the Spirit. There is such a thing as “perfecting holiness,” II Cor. 7:1 “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” For this reason God gave pastors and teachers to the church, for the perfecting of the saints (read Eph. 4: 11-15). Holiness grows little by little, degree by degree. Like the Apostle Paul we want to know Him in the power of His resurrection and fellowship of his sufferings. We want to follow after that we may apprehend that for which we have been apprehended of Christ Jesus. Let us reach forth, and press on. As many as would be perfect, be thus minded and if in any thing ye be other wise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you (Phil. 3:10-15).
COMPLETE AND FINAL SANCTIFICATION: I Thess. 5:23, “The very God of peace sanctity you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body he preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Perfect in every respect (mature) whether it refers to the church as a whole or to the individual. This blessing of entire sanctification if to take place when Christ comes. I Thess. 3:13, “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” It is when we shall see Him that we shall be like Him – I Jn. 3:2.
What means or agencies make us like Christ? The Trinity is involved:
God the Father, “the God of peace (Himself) sanctify you wholly…faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it” – I Thess 5:23-24. Trust Him to accomplish that for us, for we cannot purify ourselves, but as we yield to God, the purity will come. Jesus prayer to His Father as the One who sanctifies said, “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth” – Jn. 17:17.
Jesus Christ, the Son of course is involved. Heb. 10:10 & 14, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Eph. 5:25-27 – Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That He might present it to Himself, a glorious church without any blemish. Also read I Cor. 1:30 and Heb. 13:12.
The Holy Spirit sanctifies: I Pet. 1:2 – The Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit. II Thess. 2:13 – “God hath chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” The Holy Spirit seals and confirms the work of grace in the believer by producing the fruit of righteousness in them. The Holy Spirit is the executive of the Godhead. It is His work to war against the lust of the flesh and enable us to overcome – Gal. 5:16-25. The Apostle Paul told of his struggle in Romans 7 and his victory in chapter 8 where the Holy Spirit is mentioned 16 times.
So what is our part? I Cor. 1:30, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,.” He is such only as we appropriate Him by faith. Daily taking of His faith, patience, and love for the need of the moment. The degree of our sanctification is the proportion of our laying hold of Jesus Christ in all the riches of His grace. The study of His Word and obedience to it means growth in purity. John. 15:3, “Now ye are clean through the word.” The Word awakens our conscience to sin and reveals the character of Christ by His example, and offers the influence and power of the Holy Spirit. We come to know God and His will for us through His Word. Heb. 12:14 exhorts us to “follow after” (pursue) sanctification. May we deliberately separate ourselves for all uncleanness and continually trust God to accomplish His purposes. By single acts of surrender, sanctification is being accomplished.
E. J. D.