When I was a young Christian, we had testimony time in church. People would stand up and give a testimony of how God moved in their lives during the week or perhaps in their lives. I often would hear the phrase, they were “saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost”. For a long time I did not understand the term “sanctified”. I finally did a study on sanctification and received clarity from the Lord.
The word sanctify means to be set apart for sacred use; consecrate. It also means to make holy; purify. Sanctified means made or declared or believed to be holy. Some synonyms are cleanse, purge, purify.
Sanctification is a definite work of Grace just like salvation, baptism and the infilling of the Holy Spirit but sanctification is also a progressive work of Grace.
Sanctification: A Definitive Work of Grace
1 Corinthians 6:9, 11 says,
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? … And that is what some of you were. 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.
First we come to the Lord by the drawing of the Spirit. We repent of our sins and ask the Lord into our hearts to cleanse us and wash us free from our sins. We set that in place by baptism in water. Then the scripture says: you were sanctified. What it means is that you are called to be set apart, no longer following your own desires but following Christ. Your body is now the temple of the Holy Ghost, a sacred place. You are to walk holy and differently than you did before.
When I was first saved after I asked Jesus into my heart and forgive me of my sins, I struggled to be a Christian. I wanted to live according to the Word of God. I wanted to leave my old life behind but I kept messing up and doing wrong things. It was like I had one foot in God’s realm and one foot in the world or in the realm of sin. I wanted to do right but kept going back to the old life. This went on for months and I carried a lot of guilt. Then one day, tragedy struck. I was twenty years old and living at home. My beautiful Christian mother was struck down with a brain aneurysm and died within in a few hours. She was only 38 years old. On the way home from the hospital I said, “Lord, I want to go to heaven to be with you and with my mother.” I made a declaration and commitment to God. At that moment, I totally surrendered my life to the Lord, His ways, His Word, His plan for me. After that, it seemed as though my eyes were opened. I no longer struggled or wanted my old life. I wanted to be a born again Christian woman. My heart was totally God’s. Sin no longer reigned in my life but King Jesus reigned with righteousness and holiness.
Romans 6:6-8 says, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
Sanctification as a definitive work of Grace is surrender to God and His plan for our lives. I quit fighting God and surrendered. My old life died with Jesus on the cross, I was no longer a slave to sin. Once I yielded everything to the Lord, I was living with Him, wholly consecrated to the work and life of the Lord. It was easy to make right decisions. I am not saying that I never made a mistake but it no longer ruled me. God has ownership of me.
Many people do not have such a decisive event in their lives that they can point to and say, “Yes, that the moment when I received sanctification.” Often it is when a person gets born-again or maybe in the weeks or months following but it is a work of Grace, a time of surrender to the complete ownership of ourselves to God.
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:10
Sanctification as a Progressive Work—
Sanctification is also a progressive work. First, we surrender to God and we are made holy under His cleansing blood, His life and His purpose for our lives—the definitive Sanctification. We no longer struggle against His plans for us, His design for our lives. Next, we allow God to continue to perfect us, to grow closer to Him that we might be in the place where we develop godly virtues.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:1
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (NIV)
We need a daily purification from all that surrounds us to be able to grow as a Christian. How do we do that? We need to study our Bibles daily, seek Christian companions, be involved in our local church, daily prayer and most of all be obedient to God, His Word, and let the Holy Spirit do a work in us. As we daily surrender ourselves to Him, then we grow in grace and knowledge of the truth. Colossians 3: 2, 10 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. And put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (NIV)
Become mature overcomers in Christ. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
“As we continually yield ourselves to Christ, surrendering ourselves by faith to His nature and His words, we literally build the impenetrable stronghold of His presence around us. The way into the fortress of the Almighty is simple. Victory begins with the name of Jesus on our lips. It is consummated by the nature of Jesus in our hearts.” ~Francis Frangipane
If you are struggling in your Christian walk, just surrender your life, your everything to God. Eternal life is worth it!
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. Romans 6:22 (NIV)