“And such were some of you. 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….And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…” – 1 Corinthians 1:30; 6:1.
God’s saving grace in Christ is much bigger and more comprehensive than one can possibly imagine. God’s grace not only rescues but also renovates. It not only reconciles, but it also renews. It not only delivers, but it also matures, and it not only justifies, but it also sanctifies. Justification leads to sanctification. But what is sanctification and how does it matter to believers today?
The Christian life begins with reconciliation. If we truly repent of past sins, God forgives us for Jesus’ sake. This is a wonderful experience, but we soon discover that we are still tempted to sin and that we must fight to overcome it. By the power of the Holy Spirit and through faithfulness in this battle, we can indeed come to a life of victory over all conscious sin—that is, the thoughts, attitudes, and actions we know in the moment of temptation are wrong.
Sanctification is another term for holiness, and we certainly don’t become holy overnight. Actually, something drastic has to happen for us to change from being the way we are by nature into being holy, as He is holy. “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”(1 Peter 1:15-16) A radical transformation is needed, and it involves a lifelong process of transforming an individual to be more Christlike. This process is called sanctification. Sanctification is accomplished through being “set apart” from the unholy things of this world—the things that are directly counter to who Jesus is and His goal for our lives.
One reason sanctification is important is that it represents who we are and who we are striving to be. That is the work that God began in us. Second, when Christ begins a work in you, He is going to carry it forward to completion. God has made you a new creation. Sanctification provides evidence and testimony of God’s work in us.
The Scriptures make it clear that sanctification is vital for a Christian’s growth and development life. There is little doubt that God wants us to be passive bystanders in the sanctification process. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 “As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first[a] to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth. He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Sanctification is the path that God calls you to walk. Most Christians have memorized Romans 6:23 over their lives: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But we seldom pay attention to Romans 6:22 which says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”
- What does it mean to be sanctified?
- What is God demonstrating to us in sanctification?
- Is God’s goal in sanctification just to make us better than we currently are?