Christian Way of Life, Sanctification

Tod Kennedy, August 15, 2010

To sanctify means to set apart for God’s service. Sanctification is the noun. Holy is the adjective. God sanctifies believers at the time of faith for salvation. This sets them apart for God’s service and blessing from that time on forever. God also works in believers to sanctify them—make them holy—for service to him and blessing for them during the Christian life. While the first is due to relationship with God in Christ, the second progresses through time and experience. Progressive sanctification depends upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit, God’s word, faith, and application of God’s word. Progressive sanctification has the goal of Christ-likeness in all parts of life and in all relationships—thinking, working, serving, playing, studying, worshipping, and so on and is important in personal, family, work, and church relationships. The third phase of sanctification is called final or ultimate sanctification and happens when believers go to be with the Lord. Central Scripture on progressive or Christian life sanctification include John 17:17-19, Romans 6:15-23, Romans 12:1-2, and 1 Peter 1:13-16. John 10:36 and 1 Peter 3:15 demonstrate the basic idea of sanctify.

  1. Introduction to sanctification in the Christian life (Romans 6:15-23, especially verse 22).
    • Progressive or experiential or Christian life sanctification is now possible because of Christ’s death and resurrection. His death and resurrection provide the believer’s positional sanctification in Christ (unchangeable identification and relationship with Christ). Positional sanctification never changes.
    • Sanctification works out in day to day life when we believers apply these truths in our living by making choices to believe God and serve righteousness instead of serving sin (Romans 6:15-23, especially 19 and 22). Recall Paul’s argument of Romans 6-8 and especially chapter 6 where he stresses three things: 1. know what happened when we believed in Jesus Christ and who we now are; 2. believe these truths—reckon or consider them true; and 3. apply these truths every day and in all situations. Sanctification in our day to day Christian life is the result (Romans 6:22). What does experiential sanctification have as its goal? Christ likeness is the best way to answer this question.
  2. Definition and comparison.
    • The condition in which a person is set apart and qualified for relationship and service to God.  Sanctification does not imply sinless perfection while alive on earth in time (Leviticus 27.14-16; Jeremiah 1.5; Romans 12.1; 1 Corinthians 1.2,30, 6.11; 2 Corinthians 1.2; Hebrews 12.14; 1 Peter 1:13-16; John 17:17).
    • Sanctification, spirituality, growth, and maturity are often confused. They are related but are different.  Sanctification emphasizes the set apart and prepared readiness at any point in time. It requires spirituality. Growth enhances it.  Spirituality emphasizes the activity of the Holy Spirit at any point in time. It is an absolute, not relative condition.  Growth emphasizes the process of spiritual development. Maturity emphasizes the stages of spiritual growth. Both growth and maturity are relative conditions.
    • Greek words include hagiazw (BAG 8, to make holy, sanctify, consecrate, John 17.17; 1 Thessalonians 5.23; 1 Corinthians 1.2),  hagios (dedicated to God, holy, sacred, pure  1 Peter 2.5,9; 1 Corinthians 1.2), hagiasmos (sanctification, holiness, consecration–process or mostly result–Romans 6.19,22; 2 Thessalonians 2.13), hagiotes (holiness, Hebrews 12.10), hagiosune (holiness, 2 Corinthians 7.1; 1 Thessalonians 3.13).
    • Hebrew words include qodesh (BDB 871, apartness, Leviticus 27.14; Ezra 8.28), qadash (to be set apart, consecrated, sacred, holy, Leviticus 27.14-17; Jeremiah 1.5).
  3. There are three categories of sanctification.
    • Position (Acts 26.18; 1 Corinthians 1.2, 30; 6.11; Ephesians 1.1; 2 Thessalonians 2.13; Hebrews 10.10; 1 Peter 1.2).
    • Progressive or experience (John 17.17; Romans 6.19, 22; 12.1; 2 Corinthians 7.1; 1 Thessalonians 4.3-7; 5.23; Hebrews 12.10, 14; 1 Peter 1.15).
    • Ultimate or final (Philippians 3.21; 1 John 3.1-2; Jude 24-25).
  4. Particulars about sanctification in the New Testament—verb hagiazo.
    • Sanctification by position or relationship with Christ.
      • All believers have positional sanctification in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:2 and 1 Corinthians 6:11).
      • Faith in Christ results in positional sanctification (Acts 26:18).
      • The death of Jesus Christ for sins sanctifies forever believers (Hebrews 10:10, 14, 29).
      • Jesus sanctifies those who accept him (Hebrew 13:12).
    • Sanctification in our Christian life experience.
      • God’s word sanctifies a believer in time (John 17:17).
      • The Holy Spirit sanctifies correct Christian service (Romans 15:16).
      • Paul prayed that God would sanctify believers during time (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
      • Separation from sin makes experiential sanctification possible (2 Timothy 2:21).
  5. Particulars about sanctification in the New Testament—noun hagiasmos.
    • Sanctification by position or relationship with Christ.
      • Jesus Christ is our sanctification—the person in whom we are sanctified and the reason why we are sanctified (1 Corinthians 1:30).
    • Sanctification in our Christian life experience.
      • Progressive or Christian life sanctification is now possible because of Christ’s death and resurrection. It is true day to day when we apply these truths in our living by making choices to believe God and serve righteousness instead of serving sin (Romans 6:15-23, especially 19 and 22).
      • Sanctification in the area of morality is God’s will for believers (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4, 7).
      • The Holy Spirit sets apart people so they may consider faith in Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Relate this to John 16:8-11 where Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will come and convict unbelievers of sin, righteousness, and judgment—core elements of the gospel
      • Progressive sanctification should be a goal of believers (Hebrews 12:14). Here it refers to experiential holiness in life. The author expresses a principle: “without it (sanctification) no one will see the Lord.” Since sin can never be in God’s presence, believers should also pursue sanctification throughout life. This verse is not saying that unless one pursues sanctification now, he cannot go to heaven and see the Lord. Holiness is required for fellowship in time and positional holiness is required to meet the Lord face to face.
  6. So what?
    • When a person believes in Jesus Christ for salvation God sets him apart by putting him into a positional relationship with Jesus Christ (in Christ). The believer now legally gains sanctification because he is viewed in Jesus Christ.  He is secure in eternal salvation and heaven bound. Because of this identify in Christ each believer possesses “all spiritual blessings” (Ephesians 1:3) for relationship with God, for the Christian life, and for eternity.
    • God wants us to live godly lives here and now. This comes about by the ministry of the Holy Spirit combined with God’s word, and the faith application of God’s word—Bible doctrine—in all areas of life. Simply put, progressive or experiential sanctification proceeds as spiritual growth proceeds. God has provided the provisions for spiritual growth and living. Where do we start? These provisions begin with the local church ministry and the Christian life basic techniques as summarized in our Umbrella teaching and application aid.
  7. Various views of sanctification. Five Views on Sanctification, Zondervan, 1987.
    • Wesleyan
    • Reformed
    • Pentecostal
    • Keswick
    • Augustinian-Dispensational