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Is Sanctification completed when we become born again?
Psalm 4:3. “But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The LORD will hear when I call to Him.”
2 Corinthians 6:17. “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”
Sanctification comes from the verb ‘sanctify’. Sanctify originates from the Greek word hagizao, which means ‘to be separate’ or ‘set apart’.
In the bible, sanctification generally relates to the sovereign act of God where He ‘sets apart’ a person, place or thing in order that His purpose may be accomplished.
As examples, in the book of Exodus 29:43, God sanctifies a place of worship. “And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory.”
Even a day can be sanctified, as seen in Genesis 2:3, where the seventh day is ‘set apart’ as a holy day of rest. “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work and which God had created and made.”
Similarly, when a person is sanctified, they are set apart by God for a specific divine purpose. The very moment we are saved in Christ, we are also immediately sanctified and begin the process of being conformed to the image of Christ. From that moment, we are meant to carry out His divine purpose.
What is sanctification? What does it mean to be “set apart” practically?
Sanctification is an inward spiritual process where God brings about holiness and change in the life of a Christian by means of the Holy Spirit. When we accept Jesus Christ into our lives, the Holy Spirit enters our life to start a transformation process (progressive sanctification). He convicts us on areas that need to be changed, helping us to grow in holiness. We begin to view the world, people, and personal differences from a more biblical perspective. Our choices begin to be motivated by love and truth and not selfishness. The transformation process may be painful, but it is always motivated by God’s love for us. God promised in His word that he won’t give us more than we are able to handle (1 Corinthians 10:13)
We will never be sinless in this life. In 1 John 1:8, it is stated “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Though the sanctification process is personal for each individual, the end goal is to prevent sin and produce spiritual growth.
Sanctification is not about trying to be sinless in order to earn the favor of God. Rather, sanctification is for our own benefit. God commanded us to pursue sanctification so that through it, we may be blessed.
Justification: Is it different than Sanctification?
What is Justification?
Heb 10:14, “for by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified”
Justification is another word for Salvation. Jesus gave his life on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. His blood washed away our sins and freed us from an eternity of suffering and condemnation. We are saved because of what He did for us. We can do nothing to earn salvation, it is the gift given to every child of God. Thus, justification is to be worthy of salvation.
Sanctification occurs as a result of salvation.
At the moment of conversion, the Holy Spirit enters our life. We are no longer held hostage by death, but are free to live the life God desires for us.
Is our sanctification complete?
Sanctification does not stop with salvation, but rather it is an initial process that continues and progresses in our Christian life. Unlike the things and places that are sanctified by God in the Bible, people have the capacity to fall back into sin. Even though we have been saved, we continue to behave in ways that are contrary to the faith and so are always in battle between our old sin-lead nature and spirit-lead nature. In Galatians 5:17, Paul describes this struggle, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Like Paul, our heart’s desire is to please and obey God but our flesh is weak, making sin difficult to resist. Yet, it is in our continual struggle with sin and obedience to God that sanctification does its work.
Sanctification is a Christian responsibility:
Sanctification is one of the most challenging aspects of the Christian walk. Out natural tendency is to embrace sin, yet God in His divine wisdom has chosen to give us the responsibility of working out our own sanctification. 2 Timothy 2:21, “Therefore if any one cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”
Sanctification: Practical steps.
Prayer is the most important thing in our continual sanctification.
When we are suffering or facing temptation, our mind and body are weak. Satan knows this and tries to take advantage of the situation. When we pray, we are in spiritual union with God. Not only will prayer comfort us in our hardship, but it will also give us the strength to overcome sin. Through prayer, we are also more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, we need to feed on God’s Word. The bible is not merely a history book, but its content has the power to transform our mind, convict, and bring light into the darkness that is within our hearts. It is the instrument that God produced to develop in us knowledge, faith, and personal holiness; all of which are essential elements of sanctification. In Hebrews 4:12, we see that, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Believers are also sanctified in worship.
True fervent worship is what God desires from His people. When our worship is genuine, it transforms our hearts and brings us into close union with God. John 4:23 states, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship him.”
Conclusion: Sanctification – key to spiritual growth:
Sanctification is both a matter of position and progression. We are sanctified because Jesus Christ has saved us and yet sanctification continues to work within to transform us unto the likeness of Christ. Sanctification is the responsibility of every believer in Christ. When we choose to pursue sanctification in our life, positive growth occurs. The pursuit of it involves the surrender of the body and the will to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It takes time and is a working progress that cannot be hurried. Like a new born baby that gradually matures unto adulthood, so is the work of Sanctification in the life of a new believer. The work of sanctification will ultimately be completed in every believer’s life when Jesus Christ returns. This is the hope of every Christian.
1 Thessalonians 5:23. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”