Friday, April 13, 2012


Sanctification is another foundational doctrine of Christianity. Simply put, it means to be separated and set apart from something for a specific purpose. A modern-day example would be your clothes for today: they were sanctified from the rest of your closet for you to wear.

If redemption and justification are legal terms, sanctification is a ceremonial term. Whenever it is used in the Old Testament, it is always referring to being set apart as holy or consecrated to God. For example, the seventh day was set apart from the other six to be a day of rest. Genesis 2:3 says that He sanctified it - “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

Both the tabernacle and the temple were sanctified. They were set apart by God for the people of Israel to gather and worship Him. Exodus 29:43 says this about the tabernacle, “And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory.” Then 2 Chronicles 7:16 says the same thing about the temple, “For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” Apparently then, God sets apart the places where He meets with us from any other place.

As believers, the Bible is clear that we have already been sanctified. 1 Corinthians 6:11 declares this; “But you were washed, but you were (past tense) sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” According to the first verse of Jude, it is God Himself that sanctified us. “To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.” Finally, we can see from Hebrews 10:10 what it took to sanctify us; “By that [God's] will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

So we were sanctified when we first believed.

But wait! If we have already been set apart, why then does Hebrews 10 go on to say, “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”? Doesn't that seem to suggest we haven't been sanctified yet? 1 Thessalonians 5:23 raises the same question; “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely.” So which is it, were we sanctified when we received salvation or are we still in the process of sanctification?

The answer is, both. When we were saved, we were sanctified from the world. Our faith in Jesus' sacrifice separates us from unbelievers. That is sanctification – past tense. But now that we have been sanctified from the world, we are required to separate ourselves for God's use. This is sanctification - present tense (or the process of sanctification). Everything God does is spiritual. That means if we want Him to use us, we have to separate ourselves from carnal things.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 gives us a little more insight on this process. “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. “

Can you see the individual's responsibility in this process? Believer's are required to cleanse themselves from sin and the dishonorable things of this world. Not every dishonorable thing is may simply be something that has no value in the light of eternity. It may be some silly thing that monopolizes your time and keeps you from God's Word. When you separate yourself from those things, you continue in your process of sanctification.

Actually, the more you give yourself to the Bible, the faster you move into sanctification – because it's God's Word that sanctifies you! John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” So it is the truth of God's Word that sets us apart for His use. Ephesians 5:26 agrees with this; “...that He might sanctify and cleanse [the church] with the washing of water by the word.” A life devoted to reading, studying, and obeying the Word of God will sanctify you. When you submit to the sanctification process, you'll begin to see more and more of what God wants to do through believers

Sanctification is a process. You started when you got saved – you were set apart from the world. Now it's your responsibility to set yourself apart for God's use. The promise for those who sanctify themselves is found in Joshua 3:5, “And Joshua said to the people, 'Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow Yahweh will do wonders among you.'

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