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Sanctification (Part I)

We have been discussing the doctrine of salvation, and today we begin our conversation on sanctification.

This is a vital part of the Christian life.

We mentioned last time that true, saving faith will always result in a life that is increasingly conforming into the image of Jesus. It is a person who is completely devoted to follow Jesus in all of his teachings.

There are many who think you merely need to say a prayer, or raise a hand in a service, or conform to certain behaviors of a church culture. And when they do this, they think it is evidence they have been truly saved. Others are content to simply say they believe in Jesus, and nothing ever changes in their life.

True Christianity necessitates true sanctification, and true sanctification is laid out for us in many ways throughout the Bible.

So that is what we plan to talk about today.



Old Testament:


“The meaning ‘to separate’ is favored by many scholars, but the fact that qdsh rarely, if ever, occurs in a secular sense, makes any positive conclusion in this regard difficult because of the limited evidence on which to base philological comparison.

In the Qal the verb qadash is used most frequently to describe the state of consecration affected by Levitical ritual. In Ex. 29:21 certain articles used in the Levitical service were consecrated to God and were thus recognized as belonging to the realm of the sacred. Transmission of the state of holiness to anything that touched a person or object that was consecrated does not necessarily imply that a transferable divine energy exists in the ‘holy.’ Rather, it seems that the person or object entered the state of holiness in the sense of becoming subject to cultic restrictions, as were other holy persons or objects, in order to avoid diffusion of the sacred and the profane.” (TWOT)

It is applied in many ways (Girdlestone).

- The camp of Israel (Deut. 23:14).

- The hill of Zion (Ps. 2:6).

- The ground where Moses saw God (Ex. 3:5).

- To the city of Jerusalem (Nem 11:1).

- To heaven (Ps. 20:6).

- To the tabernacle (Ex. 29:43).

- To the altar (Ex. 39:36).

- The Sabbath (Gen. 2:6).

- The firstborn (Ex. 13:2).

- The people (Deut. 7:6).

- The man of God (2 Kings 4:9).

These, and many others, all have one point common -- they have a relation or contact with God.


“The basic meaning is to separate. When the word occurs in the Niphal with the preposition min, it has the meaning of ‘keep oneself away from.’ The verb is used in the sense of separation in Lev. 22:2, where Aaron and his sons were commanded through Moses to keep away from the holy offerings that were presented to the Lord. These were portions of the sacrifices which were set aside for the use of the priests. But they could not use them as long as they were ritually unclean. The word is used in the same construction in the sense of separating from idols (Ezek. 14:7). It bears the meaning ‘abstain from’ when used with min in the Hiphil in Num 6:3 where it occurs in connection with the Nazirite vow of abstinence. The idea of separation is inherent in the use of the word without min in Lev. 15:31 where the Isrealites were to be separated from uncleanness incurred as a result of certain physical discharges.

When the word occurs with the proposition le in either the Niphal or Hiphil it connotes ‘separation to.’ It is used in this way of consecration to YHWH on the part of the Nazirites, and of the consecration of the Israelites to Baal.” (TWOT)


“This verb, used only in the Niphal and hiphil, has the basic connotation ‘to be separated’ or ‘to separate,’ ‘to divide.’... The word occurs several times in contexts in which Israel's separation from foreigners is set forth. This was an idea of the post exilic community reflecting their desire to preserve the ethinic integrity of the nation. In Lev. 20:24 the word is used similarly except that it was God who separated Israel from the nations to a place of privilege As a result Israel is to make a distinction (badal) between clean and unclean animals… The concept of separation inherent in badal was used to describe God’s special activity in setting apart Aaron to the consecration of the holy things, and the setting apart of the Levites. Israel was set apart to be God’s heritage” (TWOT).

New Testament:

"Hagios" word group.

In the adjectival form it can refer to the holiness of God, Christ, Holy Spirit, the church, and the Christian life.

In the verbal form it is used in various ways as well (Matt. 23:17; 1 Tim. 4:5; 1 Cor. 7:14).

In the noun form it is used:

- To speak of separation unto God (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2).

- To speak of a lifestyle that is consistent with one who has been separated unto God (Rom. 6:19; 1 Thess. 4:3; 1 Tim. 2:15).


This is a rare word that only occurs eight times. It speaks of ‘as a disposition that acts out of regard for the moral law of God” (Friberg).

(Eph. 4:24)

"Eusebeia" εὐσέβεια

(1) speaks of a particular manner of life characterized by reverence toward God and respect for the beliefs and practices related to him (e.g., religion, piety); (2) speaks of a behavior directed dutifully toward God (e.g., devotion, godliness).

(Acts 3:12; 1 Tim. 2:2)

- The basis for sanctification.

- The is found in the intrinsic nature of God Himself.

Ex. 15:11 - “Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?”

Isa. 6:3 - “And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory."

The natural conclusion, then, is that it is only fitting that God’s people live in holiness.

Lev. 11:44 - “For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth.”

Ps. 93:5 - “Your testimonies are fully confirmed; Holiness befits Your house, O LORD, forevermore.”

A basic theology of sanctification:

- The process -

Initial sanctification:

This is the act in which we are set apart out of this world and into the realm of the Lord. We are set apart unto God’s purposes. Some will call this “positional/punctiliar sanctification.”

1 Cor. 6:11; Col. 3:12; Heb. 10:10.

Progressive sanctification:

This is the continual process of the Spirit in the lives of believers where we are being made into the image of the Son. It is a process of increasing holiness in both life and heart. In other words it is the process of becoming what you already are.

John 17:17; Heb. 2:11.

Ultimate sanctification:

This is that point in time when either we die and are immediately transported into God’s presence, or when Christ returns. Either way, we are changed and made fully holy and sanctified. It is an eschatological sanctification and simply refers to glorification.

Eph. 5:25; Phil. 1:6.

The use of the indicative and imperative in sanctification.

This is a common event in the bible where it declares what has been done. But then on the basis of that truth, it then tells us what is to be done.

Example: John 15:1-4.

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

The imperative is in v. 4, but it is on the basis of the indicatives in vss. 1-3.

Jesus is not saying that you should work hard to bear fruit, or otherwise the Father will need to prune; rather, it is an indicative.

The point is that those who are truly in the vine will bear fruit. This is a fact.

The command is in v. 4, and the command is not to bear fruit, but “to abide.”

For if you abide, then you will bear fruit. Again, this is a fact.

When we mix up the indicative and the imperative we get into trouble. If you make the imperative come first, you enter legalism. However, if you only have the indicative, and never move the imperative, you have licentiousness, and cheap grace.

Both the indicative and imperative must work together.


So in light of that, next time we will explore some concepts related to sanctification.

For instance, we will talk about how fear and faith work together.

We will talk about some theological tensions (e.g., old man vs new man, or old nature vs. new nature). How do these two realities work together in this now/not yet state that every  Christian finds themself in? In one sense, we have been set apart as fully holy, yet we are not yet fully holy.

We’ll also talk about assurance and the concept of eternal security (along with the doctrine of perseverance).


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