Sanctification is a word that we do not hear a great deal in the church anymore. The word has become one of those “Churchy Terms” to many people and thus has no place in the post-modern church culture. The truth is, sanctification is more than that, and just as important to the survival of a Christian as salvation in that it’s only through sanctification we can grow and mature the way that Christ intends.
So what does it mean to be sanctified? Well first of all, we have to understand that sanctification takes some effort on our part. Salvation is a complete act of God’s grace towards us. In order for us to be saved the Spirit must draw us and when we respond, it is Jesus that forgives us of all our sins and transforms us from the spiritually dead to the living. We do not draw ourselves nor do we forgive ourselves but it is through Jesus, and Him alone, that we are saved. But then what happens after we are saved? In many places that seems to be the end of it; we get saved and ok you are on your way to heaven. The only problem with that is throughout the Bible we are told to press forward, we are told to take up our cross and to follow Jesus. All of these commands are commands to take action. To do something and not just sit back and wait for heaven to come. So what does that have to do with sanctification? You see sanctification is a partnership in running my life that is between God and me, and by the way, God is the major partner in this partnership. He is the head and I am the tail in this deal. Becoming sanctified takes some effort on my part as I work and through God’s power my life is changed. I have to lay things down in order for God to fill me up with something that is greater for my life. There are a few things that we need to know about sanctification.
1. Sanctification means to be Set apart
In Exodus 40, we find where God tells Moses to set aside all the things, and people that will be used and work in the tabernacle, to sanctify them for the use of God. The word comes from the Greek word Hagiazo, which means to set aside for the purpose of making holy. Separating a person from moral or ritual defilement and thus making them holy. Just as God had set the Levites aside so that they could be the priest over his people, being sanctified means that we are to be set aside from this world. We are to strive to become more like Jesus and less like this world that we live in. We as Christians should be different than those that are unbelievers. In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter declares “But ye are a chosen generation; a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”. There should be something different about God’s people. We should be unusual to the world that we live in, they should see something in us that is not in them and that something is Jesus. As Christians we have to make a choice to separate ourselves, and when we do that then God comes into us and makes that happen.
2. Sanctification only comes when we become Vulnerable
One of the problems that we have in our society today is that we all want to be strong or at least look as if we are strong. Like the old ad that use to say “never let them see you sweat”. But being sanctified means that we become vulnerable. Paul said in Galatians 2 that we “have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me.” That sounds pretty vulnerable to me. The truth of the matter is, in order to achieve true intimacy, you have to be willing to become vulnerable. You will never achieve the closeness that you seek in any relationship until first you are willing to open up and become vulnerable and willing to change. Sanctification is me opening up all the doors in my life and saying to Jesus come in and change anything that keeps me from having a true relationship with you. Sanctification means allowing God into every part of your life, past, present, and future. It means become vulnerable to Christ.
3. Sanctification is Cleaning Externally and Purifying Internally
The internal part of my life is what God does. Sanctification is not about wearing certain type of clothes, or cutting your hair a certain way, these are all man made things. We all ways want to start on the outside which is what people see, but true change begins on the inside and that comes when we open up and allow God to change us through the power of Jesus. But here is the partnership, God can change me but I have to willing to help in the external cleaning. So many times we want God to do all the work but there is a part we have to play if we are going to be like Jesus. We have to keep ourselves from what we watch, what we listen to, the company we keep, and the attitude that we have. God will give us the power to overcome but we have to make the choice to use that power when the need arises. That is sanctification. Using what God gives you to live a more holy life. The thing is that if you are married you do not get in the bed with your spouse filthy from the day of hard work and expect their to be intimacy. No. You go and take a shower and bathe off and get clean and then come to bed. The same is true with God, how can we come to Him and expect Him to bless us when we are filthy from the world. We have to cleanse ourselves through His Word and by His Spirit. That takes effort, that takes sacrifice, and that takes determination. You cannot be wall that God wants you to be when there are things in your life that are holding you back. Give them up, become clean and enter into the presence of God.
If you would like to know more about sanctification, go to our website at southdecaturchurch.com or check out our podcast. We are doing an entire series on this topic called “Check Salvation”.