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The Doctrine of Sanctification

"Sanctification is the continuing work of God in the life of the Believer making him or her actually holy." - Erikson, 967. "Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives." - Grudem, 746.

Justification and Sanctification Compared.


· Legal change from guilt to innocence

· Once for all time at conversion

· Perfect in this life - manifested at Judgment

· Same degree in all Christians (all fully just'd)


· Moral change of behaviour and motives

· Continuous from conversion

· Progressive in this life - perfected at Judgment

· Differing degrees in Christians

Where Does the Word Come From?

1. Old Testament - to set apart to special (usually "godly") use; especially priests or items in temple

· Leviticus 21:6-8 "They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they offer the Lord's food offerings, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. You shall sanctify him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I, the Lord, who sanctify you, am holy."

2. New Testament - the word sanctify is the verb form of the word for "holy"; "to make holy" gives the idea; something that is "holy" is set apart from common use; it is the idea of becoming like God who is holy

· Revelation 4:8 "8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"

The Three Stages of Phases of Sanctification

The Bible speaks of sanctification in three ways and it is important you know which way it is being spoken of in which passage! These phases have been described as past, present and future sanctification; initial, progressive and ultimate sanctification; and terms like these.

I. Sanctification has a definite beginning the moment someone has been regenerated.

· Acts 20:32 "And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified."

· 1 Corinthians 6:11 "And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

II. Sanctification increases as we age in our Christian life.

Our task as Christians is "to grow more and more in sanctification, just as [we] previously grew more
and more in sin." - Grudem, 748

· Romans 6:6,7, 11-14 "We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for [weapons of] righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you.

· John 17:17-19 "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth."

· 1 Peter 1:13-16 "Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

· 2 Corinthians 3: 18 "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."

** Wait Just a Minute! **

Can I be fully sanctified in this life? If not, then is God commanding something unreasonable?

Didn't Jesus command us to "be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect?" Was He joking around?

III. Sanctification is never complete in this life.

Sanctification of our souls is complete at death.

· Sin stays with the Christian through life. The "hangover" of our fallenness: 1 John 1:8 "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

· Yet, at death our souls are instantly in heaven with "the spirits of the righteous [people] made perfect" (Hebrews 12:23).

· Our souls are fully sanctified in the presence of God since nothing unclean (not even mostly clean) can ever stand before Him (see Revelation 21:27).

Sanctification of our bodies takes place at the Lord's Return.

· Philippians 3:20-21 "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."

· At His coming, every Christian will be given their resurrection body that shall fully "bear the image of the man of heaven" (1 Corinthians 15:49).

The Means of Sanctification in This Life

God (especially the Holy Spirit) is the one who sanctifies us.

· 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it."

· Ephesians 5:25-27 "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish."

Christians are given many commands that they must obey in order to be sanctified - this obedience increases our sanctification.

· 1 Thessalonians 4:3 "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality."

· Romans 6:19 "I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification."

· Romans 6:22 "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life."

· Add to this the hundreds of ethical commands of the New Testament!

There are no "quick-fixes" to sanctification. We need to use the tools God has given us to be sanctified.

· They are Bible reading and meditation (Ps 1:2, Jn 17:17); Prayer (Ep 6:18); Worship (Ep 5:18-20); Fellowship (He 10:24-25); Self-control (Titus 1:8) and even Evangelizing (Mt 28:19-20).