To be sanctified is
Synonyms for sanctified
are holy, consecrated,
The Bible speaks of things being “sanctified,” such as Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:23) and gifts to the temple (Matthew 23:17); days, such as the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8); names, such as God’s (Matthew 6:9); and people, such as the Israelites (Leviticus 20:7–8) and Christians (Ephesians 5:26).
For a thing to be sanctified
means it is
Sinai was set apart from all other mountains for the
giving of the Law.
The temple in Jerusalem was set apart from all other locations for the worship of the one true God: “I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there” (2 Chronicles 7:16).
Things that are sanctified are
reserved for God’s purposes
and should not be used for mundane tasks.
The night Babylon fell, King Belshazzar “gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets . . . from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them” (Daniel 5:2). It was one of Belshazzar’s final acts, for he was killed that night by the invading Persians. God’s name is “hallowed” (Luke 11:2) and any flippant or disrespectful use of His name is profane.
Jesus spoke of Himself as being sanctified in John 17:19; in other words, He is holy and “set apart” from sin. His followers are to be similarly set apart from sin and for God’s use (see 1 Peter 1:16).
People who are sanctified are born again
and therefore part of God’s family (Hebrews 2:11). They are reserved for God’s use. They know “the sanctifying work of the Spirit” in their lives (1 Peter 1:2). They abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3). They understand they have been “called to be his holy people” (1 Corinthians 1:2).
To be sanctified means that God has been at work in our lives. Under the Old Testament Law, the blood of a sacrifice was required to set things apart unto God: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood” (Hebrews 9:22). Blood was sprinkled on tabernacle furniture, on priestly clothing, and on people. Nothing was considered sanctified until it had come in contact with the blood. This was a picture of the spiritual application of Christ’s blood for our salvation—we are “sprinkled with his blood” (1 Peter 1:2). Just as the temple of old was sanctified for God’s use, our bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit, are set apart for God’s holy purposes (1 Corinthians 6:19).
To be sanctified means that God’s Word has had an effect on us.
It is “through the word”
cleanses us and makes us holy
(Ephesians 5:26; John 17:17).
God invites us sinners to come to Him “just as we are” and receive His mercy and forgiveness. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit begins His amazing work of transforming us into the image and likeness of Christ. To be sanctified means that God loves us too much to let us stay the same.
The apostle’s prayer is for all believers, everywhere: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Jesus had a lot to say about sanctification in John 17. In verse 16 the Lord says, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it,” and this is before His request: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (verse 17). In Christian theology, sanctification is a state of separation unto God; all believers enter into this state when they are born of God: “You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30, ESV). The sanctification mentioned in this verse is a once-for-ever separation of believers unto God. It is a work God performs, an integral part of our salvation and our connection with Christ (Hebrews 10:10). Theologians sometimes refer to this state of holiness before God as “positional” sanctification; it is related to justification.
While we are positionally holy (“set free from every sin” by the blood of Christ, Acts 13:39), we know that we still sin (1 John 1:10). That’s why the Bible also refers to sanctification as a practical experience of our separation unto God. “Progressive” or “experiential” sanctification, as it is sometimes called, is the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one’s life. It is the same as growing in the Lord (2 Peter 3:18) or spiritual maturity. God started the work of making us like Christ, and He is continuing it (Philippians 1:6). This type of sanctification is to be pursued by the believer earnestly (1 Peter 1:15; Hebrews 12:14) and is effected by the application of the Word (John 17:17). Progressive sanctification has in view the setting apart of believers for the purpose for which they are sent into the world: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:18–19). That Jesus set Himself apart for God’s purpose is both the basis and the condition of our being set apart (see John 10:36). We are sanctified and sent because Jesus was. Our Lord’s sanctification is the pattern of and power for our own. The sending and the sanctifying are inseparable. On this account we are called “saints” (hagioi in the Greek), or “sanctified ones.” Prior to salvation, our behavior bore witness to our standing in the world in separation from God, but now our behavior should bear witness to our standing before God in separation from the world. Little by little, every day, “those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14, ESV) are becoming more like Christ.
There is a third sense in which the word sanctification is used in Scripture—a “complete” or “ultimate” sanctification. This is the same as glorification. Paul prays in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “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” (ESV). Paul speaks of Christ as “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) and links the glorious appearing of Christ to our personal glorification: “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). This glorified state will be our ultimate separation from sin, a total sanctification in every regard. “We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
To summarize, “sanctification” is a translation of the Greek word hagiasmos, meaning “holiness” or “a separation.” In the past, God granted us justification, a once-for-all, positional holiness in Christ. In the present, God guides us to maturity, a practical, progressive holiness. In the future, God will give us glorification, a permanent, ultimate holiness. These three phases of sanctification separate the believer from the penalty of sin (justification), the power of sin (maturity), and the presence of sin (glorification).