Summary: The doctrine of sanctification is one of the most misunderstood teachings recorded in the New Testament. This is due, in large part, to the fact that it deals with consecration and holiness.
SCRIPTURE: I Thessalonians 4:3
The doctrine of sanctification is one of the most misunderstood teachings recorded in the New Testament. This is due, in large part, to the fact that it deals with consecration and holiness.
If regeneration has to do with our nature, justification with our standing, and adoption with our position, then sanctification has to do with our character and conduct. In justification we are declared righteous in order that through sanctification we may become righteous. Justification is what God does for us; sanctification, what God does in us. Justification puts us into a right relationship with God; sanctification exhibits the fruit of that relationship - that is, a life separated from a sinful world and dedicated unto God.
Sanctification is a biblical doctrine. The word is found in its various forms at least four hundred times in the Old ’Testament, to say nothing of the many references to it in the New Testament.
THE MEANING OF SANCTIFICATION
The words "sanctify," "saint," "hallow," and "holy’ all come from the same Greek root hagizo or hagiazo (ha-geed-zo). In the New Testament sense, the word means "to place in a relation to God answering to His holiness."
In the Old ’Testament, the root word is kadash (ka-dash) which means "to cut or separate." In either case, sanctification has to do with separation, and this separation is subsequent to, or because of, something else. The sanctified person or thing has been chosen first and then separated. Therefore, sanctification, or being set apart, is subsequent to regeneration.
Two thoughts are prominent in a definition of sanctification:
separation from evil, and dedication unto God.
Separation From Evil
It is evident from scriptures that sanctification necessitates a turning away from all that is sinful and defiling to both soul and body. Note:
Sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the lord God . . . and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. . . And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the lord, to cleanse it and brought out all the uncleanness… Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the lord (2 Chronicles 29:5, 16-18).
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Titus 2:12).
But as he who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (1 Peter 1:15).
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).
The life of separation, wrought by the experience of sanctification, challenges the believer to forsake the patterns of the world and to follow the pattern of holiness with Jesus Christ as the model.
Paul had a word for the Galatians and us when he wrote:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).
He spoke of his past life and old habits:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Ephesians 2:3-5).
This separation expresses itself in outward cleansing and inward holiness. Sanctification, as a condition of the heart, affects every facet of the Christian’s life. It is the heart of the Christian faith, the theme of the Holy Scriptures, and the purpose of God for His people.
It is possible to profess sanctification by subscribing to legalistic and ceremonial codes without possessing sanctification of the heart. True sanctification will affect the entire nature of man, while Pharisaism merely affects the overt expressions of that nature. One theologian stated this:
"Pharisaism and holiness are not the same. Holiness is purity of the heart and nature. Pharisaism is an outward system of legalism. Holiness flows out of a pure heart of love that is full of forgiveness. Pharisaism flows out of a heart of law that is ready to measure, criticize, condemn, judge, and punish." Dedication Unto God
Note this passage of scripture: