This is a question that may seem simple on the surface but is in fact a little more complicated than first thought. It is not that the definition is hard to understand, but it is how it is applied to a person. Let us look at the clinical definition of the word “sanctification” within the Strong’s Concordance. In the Strong’s Concordance, sanctification is under the number “38” which means:
Sanctification <G38>; the state of purity, to make holy, sacred
from <G37> (hagiazo); properly purification, i.e. (the state) purity; concrete (by Hebrew) a purifier: – holiness, sanctification.
Sanctify <G37> from <G40> (hagios); to make holy, i.e. (ceremony) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate (to regard with respect, Online Dictionary): – hallow, be holy, sanctify.
Holy <G40> from hagos (an awful thing) [compare <G53> (hagnos), <H2282> (chag)]; sacred (physical pure, moral blameless or religious, ceremony consecrated): – (most) holy (one, thing), saint.
“Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary”
The definition is easy enough to understand because it simply means to be imputed (given) the holiness of God. When a person wants to experience sanctification personally is when things seem to become complicated.
Deut 28:9 (KJV) The Lord shall establish thee a holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways.
By following the commandments, one can experience holiness and sanctification. Many will be content to stop here and then start the obedience of the law to become a holy people. This is however, is not the way of God but the way of men. To truly know how a person can attain sanctification we must understand the true gospel which is Jesus Christ and him crucified.
I have heard the following question asked in the past, “Why was Paul, who was a scholar in the law of God, who was groomed to take over the chief elder of Israel, sent to the gentiles instead of the Jews in Jerusalem?”
In answering the above question of sanctification, we can gain the understanding of this question as well. Generally speaking, in Paul’s epistles he speaks about the law to these gentile believers who were not raised in the law of God. Why? Because these believers, after they were saved, were going into the law of God trying to attain the righteousness of God, to be obedient towards God, and further their growth in God. Therefore, it would take a scholar in the law of God who came out from under the carnal understanding of the law unto a spiritual understanding of the law to explain the error of what they were doing.
Romans 6:23 (KJV) For the wages of sin is death; …
The end result of sin is death. We have all sinned and have been condemned to death because the law of God has revealed all unrighteousness within us. Jesus Christ came and died to take upon himself the penalty of death.
John 3:15-18 (KJV) 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Sin is simply the broken law of God.
Romans 3:20 (KJV) …for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
The law of God entered into a person at salvation (the “New Covenant”) in order to bring sin to the surface.
Gal 5:19 (KJV) the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, etc.… are all symptoms of THE “sin nature” which is a result of the fall of Adam and the broken law. Changing habits, thinking positive thoughts, and speaking good things over our lives cannot overcome “the” sin; only the cross of Christ can address this broken law.
John 1:29 (KJV) The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
As believers we have to put our faith in the death of Christ as our substitute, and it is because we believe that he died for our sins that we have salvation.
How can understanding Christ’s death answer the question of sanctification?
Heb 10:10 (KJV) By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
You may be wondering how keeping the commandments of the Lord and the offering of the body of Christ be connected when it comes to our sanctification?
Rev 1:17-18 (KJV) 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
If the wages of sin is death and he is alive for evermore never to die again, then he will never fail to keep God’s righteous law perfectly. It is a matter of obedience of faith and not obedience of the law. Just as we placed our faith in him for our death as our substitute, we must also put our faith in him for our life as our representative who stands before God.
Heb 7:25-28 (KJV) Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; (This is the meaning of being sanctified)
27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated forevermore.
When we were born again we experienced such a transformation that words fail to explain the tangible affect it had upon our lives. We became a new creature in Christ which made us feel pure, clean, and holy. Our sanctification is in Christ, who lives forever more before a Holy God, living out the fullness of the law perfectly, and if I put my faith in His LIFE then I am imputed the perfect fulfillment of the law which is by faith. Christ won total victory at the cross and the resurrection is the result of that victory. When my eyes are solely upon the cross of Christ then within my life I will be victorious. If you believe in his death, then also believe in his life and you will experience the tangible affect that it has upon our everyday life as well. Everything God has for us can only come through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus.
The gospel: Jesus Christ died and was buried to be raised on the third day ascending into heaven itself so that we could have salvation, sanctification, justification, and glorification!
Romans 9:31-32 (KJV)
31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
Romans 3:27 (KJV)
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Romans 16:25-26 (KJV)
25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
Romans 7:23 (KJV)
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.