I am aware that there is a lot of controversy and division in the Body of Christ concerning our understanding on sanctification. I go as far as saying that, it is here where we become victims of bad doctrine. It is here where we see casualties. It is imperative that we get a good understanding of what sanctification is. Jesus provision is not an excuse for us to live any kind of way; that is not a legalistic statement, but a biblical one. In Galatians 5:13 Paul speaks about the liberty that we have in Jesus, but he also stated, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (NKJV)
We must understand that God has set us a part and that underneath the blood of Christ his Spirit is forming sanctification in our own hearts; one of the ultimate promises of the New Testament (Jeremiah 31:33). To better explain this concept of sanctification, we must look at three aspects: Sanctification must be seen in three fold: 1) Instantaneous sanctification, 2) progressive sanctification and 3) ultimate sanctification.
I believe that brother Harold S. Martin did a remarkable job in explaining sanctification, so I will use his direct words:
- Instantaneous sanctification-is the standing before God, which is assigned to individuals at the time when they accept Jesus Christ by faith. We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:13b that “God hath … chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit.” And from 1 Corinthians 6:11 we learn that “Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” The Christians at Corinth had lived very ungodly and pagan lives, but now they were new creatures in Christ Jesus.
- Progressive sanctification-is the life process of growing in holiness; it is pressing on in the upward way, and more and more being delivered from the power of sin. Thus sanctification speaks of following in the path of righteousness, choosing the more excellent way, and seeking the mind of Christ. We are told in 2 Peter 3:18a to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” That takes place when we are devoted to reading the holy Word of God, using the tools of Bible study, and exercising the spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation, and participation in the ordinances of God’s house. There is also an admonition in 2 Corinthians 7:1b which says, “Therefore … let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” The Apostle Paul spoke of pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God (Philippians 3:13-14). The New Testament does not suggest any short-cuts to sanctification. It simply encourages us to give ourselves to the old-fashioned and time-honored means of Bible reading, and meditation, and prayer, and worship, and self-discipline.
- Ultimate sanctification-is the final state, which will be attained only when we are fully and completely set apart to God in heaven. The wish of the writer in I Thessalonians 5:23 is expressed as follows: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in 1 John 3:2b, we read, “It doeth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
To be continued…