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The Doctrine of Sanctification

At the moment we make peace with God, we are born again and we are sanctified. The word sanctified means to be set apart for a purpose. In the Bible it has the meaning of a separation from the world, and of being set apart for God's service.

Sanctification is both progressive and positional. When we first believe, make peace with God and are born again, Christ is at that instant made to us our sanctification, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Next, we have the Holy Spirit sanctifying the believer by freeing him from the carnal nature, and putting to death the old nature of the believer as the believer yields to Him, Romans 8:2, Romans 8:11-13, Hebrews 12:14, Romans 8:29, Ephesians 5:27.

When we first believe and trust Christ for salvation, we are instantly sanctified. It is at that time that the believer is set apart from sin, and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them. After that, when God looks at the believer He sees the perfect life of His Son, Jesus Christ. Because of that, the believer need not fear that they will lose their standing before God, because it is this union in Christ that brought it about, they are baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. That union can never be broken. (1 Corinthians 1:30; 6:11; Hebrews 2:11; 10:14)

Sanctification is also a progressive work. The believer's present life is to become more like Christ day by day. We will not be perfect until Christ comes and we receive our new incorruptible bodies. It is not only the work of Christ for the believer that sets him/her apart for God, but the work of God in the believer, which progressively changes him/her into the image of Christ and perfects the believer in the likeness of Christ. By the work of God's free grace, we are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness. Sin will not be totally eradicated until the appearing of Christ, but as we mature in Christ, we will become increasingly more like Christ. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5; 2:12; 1 Peter 2:24

The triune God is involved in sanctification. God the Father sanctifies the believer in that He imputes the holiness of Christ to Him, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Hebrews 13:20-21

Next we have Christ sanctifying the believer by laying down His life for him/her, Hebrews 13:12.

It is the Holy Spirit that regenerates a new believer, and inwardly the new believer is positionally perfect in God. However, the believer must work out their salvation so that others can see it. (1 Peter 1:2; Philippians 2:12-13; Ephesians 5:26; 2 Corinthians 3:18) This continuous sanctification by the work of the Holy Spirit is applicable only as we walk in the Spirit. As we yield our life to God, we can experience deliverance from the power of sin, through the power of the Holy Spirit. As we yield ourselves to God, and walk in the Spirit daily, we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and our ultimate goal of being conformed to the image of Christ in holiness and perfection, will be realized in the future. (Hebrews 12:14; Romans 8:2; Ephesians 5:27)

A believer grows into sanctification; he progressively becomes more like the image of Christ. This is our present state of sanctification, 2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Peter 3:18.

When will we be complete in our sanctification? Sanctification will be complete in the future, at Christ's second coming, or, the rapture, when He comes back for His church, 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13.

The believer still has a battle with the flesh which he will sometimes lose. Then God, by Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit gives out chastisement, John 17:17, 1Thessalonians 4:3-4, Hebrews 12:10.

Sanctification is not a second blessing. There are some who use 2 Corinthians 1:15 to say there is a second blessing. However, Paul is speaking of wanting to give the Church a second benefit, not a second blessing. 2 Corinthians was written to people already sanctified, 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 6:11.

We are sanctified when we are born again. We are set apart for the purpose of God. Sanctification is a progressive process as we increasingly become like the image of Christ. This occurs as we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and walk in the Spirit. In the future, at the coming of Christ, we will be conformed to the image of Christ. As we look back over this information we should now realize three things, that sanctification has 3 tenses, past, present and future.
Past tense in that the believer was saved from guilt and the penalty of sin, Ephesians 2:5-8; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 5:9
Present tense in that the believer is being saved from the power of sin in his daily life, Romans 6:14; Philippians 2:12-13.
Future tense in that the believer will be saved from the presence of sin, 1 Peter 1:4-5; 1 Corinthians 15:52-53.


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