Category: Church and Discipleship, Word: SANCTIFICATION
February 19, 2016 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
For I am the Lord your God, so you must consecrate yourselves and be holy because I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44)
Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)
DEFINITION: Sanctification is the process or result of being made holy. Places, things, and persons set apart for God and His use are “sanctified.” God’s holiness includes moral perfection; thus, holy persons are becoming more Godlike or Christ-like in virtue and affections.
For many Christians, sanctification is an outdated word that conjures up uptight old ladies shaking their heads in disapproval of everything joyful or fun. While the word “sanctification” may not be capable of rehabilitation in English, the meaning behind the term is utterly important for Christian disciples. Sanctification simply means becoming Christ-like in character. And if someone is not becoming more Christ-like, it is problematic whether he or she has truly believed.
In the epistles, a frequent designation for all believers is “saints” or “holy ones” or “sanctified ones” (Rom. 1:7; Phil. 1:1). Sainthood is not limited to an upper tier of more pious believers; rather, all Christians are already set aside for God and are becoming more virtuous as they grow in godliness. Sanctification (spiritual growth) is the complement to regeneration (spiritual birth). At the new birth, God gives one a new heart that desires to know and love Him, longing for obedience to Him, and willingness for worship and prayer.
Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of regenerate persons enabling “both to will and to act for His good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). Consider the following “holy terms’ vocabulary of the New Testament:
- The adjective holy (as in Holy Spirit) is the Greek hagios (Jn. 14:26).
- The word saints is the Greek hagioi (Acts 9:32).
- The verb sanctify (or make holy) is the Greek hagiazo (Heb. 10:10).
- The noun sanctification (or holiness) is the Greek hagiosmos, occurring10 times (Rom. 6:19, 22; 1 Cor. 1:30; 1 Thess. 4:3,4,7; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Tim 2:15; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:2).
Sincere believers have often disagreed about the normal process of sanctification. Those from “holiness” traditions as well as those with Pentecostal or Charismatic beliefs emphasize a second work of grace after regeneration or a baptism by the Spirit empowering believers both to be holy and to do great acts of ministry. Others note that regeneration (birth) necessarily implies that sanctification (growth) will follow, and see a Christian’s life of discipleship as one of gradual maturing. The English Puritans famously described Christian growth as a constant interplay between “mortification” (saying no to temptations; “killing” one’s sinful “flesh”) and “vivification” (allowing the Holy Spirit’s life-giving power to work in one’s life). For these Christians in particular, the struggle against the flesh that Paul outlined in Romans 7:14-25 was a present reality, and sanctification would never be complete in this lifetime. Paul’s ultimate confidence was unmistakable, however. “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until [or, up to and including] the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).
REFLECTION: Would you be offended or pleased if someone called you holy? What if they called you Christ-like? Is there a difference? What does it mean that you are already a saint?
PRAYER: Holy Spirit of God, without Your sanctifying presence and power, I will never grow in godliness. Give me Your grace this day to become more like Jesus. Amen
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.