Sanctification is one of the spiritual pruning or refining process that every genuine Christian must go through.
Many times, the holy Bible makes mention of sanctification as being one of God's indispensable requirements from His people.
Joshua 3:5 KJVAnd Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.
Leviticus 11:44 KJVFor I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
2 Chronicles 29:5 KJVAnd said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.
Everyone who comes to God must be sanctified, first and foremost, for their own good; so that they don't miss Heaven or miss out on all that God has in store for them.
Meaning of Sanctification
To sanctify means to cleanse, purge, purify and make holy for God's acceptance and use.
Isaiah 52:11 KJVDepart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing ; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.
When the Lord saves us, He doesn't do that just to keep us waiting for the day of His return. He does that so as to make us co-labourers with Him in the vineyard—working alongside Him to bring more souls into the kingdom of God.
As co-labourers with Christ in His vineyard, we are God's vessels. We bear the vessels which the Holy Spirit fills and uses for God's good pleasure.
We must be sanctified, if we must become that vessel which meets God's quality standards for His effective use in the Kingdom.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18 KJVWherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
When it is said that one is "set apart", it means that they have been sanctified. The one who is sanctified or set apart is separated from sin and worldliness. They have completely given out themselves to be God's own possession, having nothing to do with the ways and works of darkness.
The Process of Sanctification
Sanctification is God's plan for His own, pre-planned even before the foundation of the earth. We were destined to be holy and blameless before Him.
Ephesians 1:3-4 KJVBlessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
This plan of God for our sanctification is activated and kick-started at our salvation. When we get saved, the Lord kick-starts His work of sanctification in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Our responsibility is to cooperate with Him while He executes this divine plan and brings it to completion in us.
1 Corinthians 3:9 KJVFor we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
We are co-labourers with the Lord in His vineyard and we are as well His building—God's project in progress.
Ephesians 4:13 KJVTill we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
At the culmination of God's sanctification in us, we will be made perfect and ready to spend eternity with Him.
Agents of Sanctification
These are tools (medium) with which God sanctifies and make us presentable before Him, and ready to render acceptable service to Him. They are as follows:
- The Blood
- The Spirit
- The Word
1. Sanctification by the blood of Jesus Christ
God begins His work of sanctification in us by washing away our sins at salvation. When we are saved we are forgiven. God sees us through the lenses of a new creature. Cleansed, justified. Our sins are no longer attributed to us, they have been blotted away by the blood of the Lamb.
Hebrews 9:22 ESVIndeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
1 John 1:7 KJVBut if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
The other agents are there to completely destroy and expel the habitual side of those sins from us, and prevent us from returning to them.
2. Sanctification by the Holy Spirit
The saved is baptized in the Holy Spirit at salvation or afterwards, not just so they can experience the euphoria of being "Anointed", but mainly for their sanctification. The Holy Spirit comes in to take over and carry on the work of sanctification from where the blood of Jesus dropped it.
The Holy Spirit comes in to breathe life upon and work alongside the Word of God, to bring to completion God's work of sanctification in us.
Romans 8:11 KJVBut if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
The Holy Spirit is there to transform and enable us walk in the newness of life which was implanted in us when we got saved.
By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are able to mortify the works of the flesh and are enabled to live above them.
Romans 8:11-13 KJVBut if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
The fire of the Holy Spirit comes in to purge us of every leftover dross and chaff, and light in us the zeal for good works.
Matthew 3:11 KJVI indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
Our responsibility is to yield to the Holy Spirit, while He works out sanctification in us.
3. Sanctification By The Word
The word of God is a major cleansing agent in the hand of God, which He uses for the sanctification of His saints.
John 15:3 KJVNow ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
The purpose of the holy scriptures is to serve as a mirror, which when we behold our face in it, all manner of habit, behaviour and lifestyle that is not in line with that of Christ is revealed to us.
James 1:23-24 KJVFor if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
The word of God brings to our attention, the very things which we intentionally avoid and refuse to change about us, and challenges us to change them.
A true child of trembles at God's Word. That is our expected response to the Word of God.
Isaiah 66:5 KJVHear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word...
We cannot afford to be Christias who are convicted by the Word, yet they choose to be adamant and rebellious towards that conviction—refusing to amend their ways as the Holy Spirit clearly points out to them in the Word.
If we are that way, the Word of God cannot sanctify, transform and conform us to the image and likeness of Christ.
The entire Church, as Body of Christ, is sanctified by the Word of God. This is not something any genuine Christian should strive to avoid but submit to.
Ephesians 5:25-26 KJVHusbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.
Your Response To Sanctification
Our expected response to God's sanctifying process in us is cooperation. Rebellion against God produces stunted growth.
We have a part to play in our sanctification process, and some of such is clearly stated out and straight to the point, like in 1 Thessalonians 4:3:
1 Thessalonians 4:3 KJVFor this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.
Rebelling against the sanctification process is one of the major reasons why some have been saved for years, yet, there is neither improvement in their character nor lifestyle. No better relationship with Jesus. Ever learning and never growing; never ready for God's use.
John 15:1-2,4-6 KJVI am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Importance of Sanctification
The benefits of sanctification includes (but not limited to) the following:
1. Conforms You To The Image of Christ
Sanctification is vital to our transformation and conformation to the image and likeness of Christ. This is not an option, we must all get there.
2 Corinthians 3:18 KJVBut we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2. Aligns You With God
Sanctification gets us aligned with God and His will, for full-fledged manifestation of His plans and purpose upon our life.
3. Intimacy With God
Sanctification grants us greater and uncommon access to God. Let us not misunderstand God's mercy. No matter how merciful God is, He doesn't compromise holiness. God's mercy isn't a replacement for holiness, it is meant to make us more submitted and obedient to Him daily.
Psalm 24:3-4 KJVWho shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? or who shall stand in his holy place?  He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
Those who pay the price by submitting for sanctification always experience a closer walk with God, and not a man's opinion concerning this can take that away from them.
4. Ready For The Lord's Use
Sanctification is one of the ways through which God equips and makes us ready for His use.
2 Timothy 2:21 KJVIf a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
5. We Are Made Candidates of Heaven
Those who submit to God's sanctifying process will not become a castaway. But there is definitely danger in refusing to submit! That's the part many don't want to hear. But it has to be preached anyway.
John 15:6 KJVIf a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Final Words On Sanctification
The essence of sanctification is maturity in Christ. A mature Christian is one who has been processed, tested, proven, trusted and entrusted.
Everyone wants to be blessed. Everyone wants to be mightily used of God. These are also part of God's will for our lives, but God won't just let them out immediately after we get saved.
As much we desire great things from God, we should as well be willing to submit to His sanctification process. God is very principled. No one can jump classes in the school of the Holy Spirit, to walk in all that Heaven has in store for them.
Instead of rebellion, like the Psalmist, our prayer should go this way:
Psalm 51:7 KJV
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Amen.
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