To understand sanctification, one must first consider man’s sin problem. When Adam was created, he was righteous, holy, and perfect. When he disobeyed God by eating of the forbidden fruit, he instantly fell from that state and received a fallen nature. Adam then had a two-fold sin problem from which he was unable to deliver himself – sin and a sinful nature. Since he is the father of the entire human race this sin problem has been passed down to everyone. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:12, 19).
After Adam sinned God promised a Savior, and in His time God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to Earth to die on the cross to be “…the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). By shedding His precious blood on the cross, all who come to Jesus can be forgiven of their committed sins and be ridden of the fallen nature. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). These are accomplished by two separate works of grace – justification and sanctification. One who is justified and sanctified is totally set free from sin. The Scripture states in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The forgiveness of our sins relates to the act of justification, experienced at the moment of salvation; whereas, the cleansing from all unrighteousness relates to sanctification.
Justification – A Prerequisite to Sanctification
Justification is both an act and a state. The act of justification is the first definite work of God’s grace where He instantly forgives or pardons a repentant sinner’s actual transgressions or sins by the blood of Christ. The individual stands before God freed from the consequences of guilt and judgment of sin. He is restored to divine favor and is declared to be righteous on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
The act of justification puts on into a state of justification where the born again believer has the grace to live without transgressions. With no remembrance of sin there is no need for continual repenting as he goes on to know the Lord more. to sin willfully after experiencing the regenerating power of God is to no longer be justified in His sight.
What is Sanctification?
Sanctification is the second definite work of grace whereby a believer is instantly cleansed and made holy with the blood of Christ by the Holy Ghost. Sanctification removes the desire to sin from a believer by removing the fallen or sinful nature, and it restores the individual to the state of holiness that Adam was in prior to the fall. Paul admonishes, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Justification deals with the act or guilt of sin, but sanctification takes care of the nature of sin. Justification is a judicial act in the mind of God; sanctification is a change wrought in the nature of man. Restoration to the favor of God occurs in justification; restoration to the image of God occurs in sanctification. Justification removes the guilt of sins committed; sanctification removes the inclination to sin in the future. Justification is imputed righteousness; sanctification is infused righteousness. Justification is an experience for sinners; sanctification is an experience for believers. Sanctification produces inside a person a changed nature which makes sin repulsive.
Although some would define sanctification as a suppression of the Adamic nature, or a continuing process of cleansing and consecration, the Bible makes it clear that the experience is definite and compete at once, and the progressive process of consecration and growing in grace comes after the individual has experienced the crucifixion and eradication of the Adamic nature. In Jude 1, the writer addresses “them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.” This quality is used a number of times in the New Testament and implies a work that is already completed.
Why Should a Person Seek to be Sanctified?
Until a person is sanctified he cannot reach the status God has for him, nor be what God wants him to be. The Spirit cannot exercise Himself in the life which is battleground between the divine nature and the Adamic nature. The Holy Ghost will not impose Himself upon the person who reserves a place in his heart for the depraved nature which is at enmity with God. Until this territory is cleansed of the evil nature and the Holy Spirit of God given that place, no individual can give himself complete and unreservedly into the hands of the Spirit. To be baptized in the Spirit means to be fully yielded to Him, and this is impossible if there is a part of one’s life still off limits to the unrestricted working of the Spirit.
Additionally, the Word of God admonishes, “But as he which hath called you holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15, 16). Furthermore, Hebrews 12:14 says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Holiness of life is a direct result of the experience of sanctification, and holiness is nothing more or nothing less than purity of heart and life that is reflected in the way a person conducts his daily life.
How Can a Person Be Sanctified?
Someone who has experienced the justification of God’s grace and has been born again is eligible to be sanctified. By an act of faith a person must put himself into the flow of the cleansing stream of the of the blood of Jesus Christ. The evidence of justification is peace with God, and the evidence of sanctification is great joy inside the heart.
Becoming sanctified is more than the act of verbally asking for God to sanctify a person’s life. Mere words are powerless if the heart is not engaged in the request to be sanctified. One must condition his heart for the instantaneous work God will perform. With the sinful nature working through the flesh influencing it to sin against God, it must be put to death in order for the divine nature to take its place. The heart, representing the inner being of man, is the part of man that God desires to be fully surrendered if a person is to be sanctified. A person should resign their heart and relinquish every right of it over to God while asking to be sanctified in all sincerity. It is at that point that God is faithful and just to sanctify a person wholly, and the “old man” or sin nature becomes crucified. The believer is now sanctified.
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