Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

Sanctification

Written by Rev. G. R. Procee
When the Lord calls sinners, He not only calls them to repentance and faith, but also to sanctification. The Lord calls sinners to walk in a new life with Him.
Our lives must be renewed. This renewal takes place in principle in regeneration, but is further worked out in a daily walk of sanctification. We can distinguish between regeneration in the narrowest sense as being the new life granted to a sinner and regeneration in a broader sense, i.e. the ongoing renewal of man. The latter is sanctification.

The blessed work of Christ is to cause sinners to become partakers of God's salvation. He merited the blessings of salvation and the grace of regeneration so that the Holy God through His Spirit could dwell in sinners. Christ purchased the blessing of justification, but the Lord Jesus also purchased the blessing of sanctification.

Some people have the idea that the Lord Jesus Christ merits and grants justification but that those who are justified are on their own when it concerns sanctification. It is as if the Lord said: I have given you justification and now you have to work out your own sanctification. They even consider that sanctification is a work performed in gratitude and offered to Christ.

But that idea is wrong. Sanctification is merited by Christ and it is worked by Christ. Man cannot subdue even one sin. Man can never work out his own sanctification. What is needed is that the Lord Jesus works sanctification through His Holy Spirit.

Justification and Sanctification
These two belong very closely together. Justification refers to the guilt of sin; sanctification refers to the pollution of sin. It refers to a life of dedication to the Lord. Not just punishment, the consequence of sin, has to be removed, but also sin itself. God's people are renewed after the image of Christ Jesus.

Personal justification works comfort in the soul. Sanctification is also most comforting. That is because man does not work sanctification, but it is a gift worked by the Holy Spirit and merited by Christ. With holy joy God's children may observe this work of sanctification in their lives. Although it will still be just a small beginning, they have joy because of what God is doing in their lives. We are so weak that we can never sanctify ourselves. We are completely dependent on the Holy Spirit. We would have no peace whatever if we would have to work out our sanctification in our own strength.

Sanctification in the Bible
The Hebrew word qadosh is derived from the word qad, which means to separate. A sanctified person or a saint is someone who is separated and set apart for the Lord and His service. This is not a negative or restricting activity; it is positive because such a person is set apart to be fully dedicated to the most High God. The word qadosh means to be separated from secular use and dedicated to the Lord.

Material things can also be dedicated or sanctified to the Lord, such as the holy anointing oil, the tabernacle, the utensils in the tabernacle, the mountain, and even the Sabbath. Persons can be dedicated to the Lord, such as the Levites, the priests, as well as places such as the Holy of holies in the temple. Even the ground on which Moses was standing in Exodus 3:5 is dedicated to the Lord and is sanctified. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

GodÕs children are called to be separated from the world and sin and to be dedicated to God. They are called to do God's will, also in relationship to their neighbour. For instance, in baptism God places a claim on His people to be dedicated to Him. Sanctification does not mean that one must separate and withdraw oneself from daily life, but it means that one must keep oneself undefiled from the world (Rom.6: 22, But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life).

Sanctification is the Work of the Triune God in Man
The Father elects to sanctification (Eph.1: 4, 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; Eph.2: 10, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them).

God's people are created unto good works. They are created to sanctification. They are to be holy, because God Himself is holy. We read about this in Leviticus 20:7, Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. Sublime holiness proceeds from God (Isa.6: 3, And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory).

God is holy because He is without any sin. He is pure and fully dedicated to Himself. He hates evil and He swears by his own holiness. He is a consuming fire because He is holy. Because He is holy, He will also save Israel by giving Israel a new heart and a new spirit. For this cause God the Father sent His Son.

Sanctification is also the work of the Son. Christ saves His people to sanctification (Gal.1: 4, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father; 1 Thess.3: 13, To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

Christ was pure and holy when He came to this earth. During His life He was perfectly sanctified to God. By His suffering and death He purchased forgiveness for His people. But He also earned the Holy Spirit as gift (Jn.17: 19, And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth).

Without Christ there would be no sanctification. His sacrifice was necessary, not only for the forgiveness of sins, but also for the renewal of their lives (1 Cor.1: 30, But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption).

Righteousness is imputed, but holiness is also imputed. God's people are not holy by nature. We are unable to work out our own holiness. We can never fight the devil and sin.

Sanctification is a gift of God. Only the salvation of Christ can save a sinner. What comfort this is for those who are wrestling with their sanctification before the throne of God and have to confess that they are unable and unfit for a holy walk. Their struggles often increase when it is realized that God does not consider partial holiness to be sufficient. God demands perfect holiness. In Christ, however, God's children have perfect holiness.

But sanctification is not only the work of the Father and of the Son, but also of the Holy Spirit. Calvin emphasized the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification. Those who are engrafted into Christ become a different plant and receive a different life. They become a new creation, a new plant in Christ and therefore bring forth fruits of righteousness and holiness.

Faith is not an idle matter. It works by love (Gal.5: 6, For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. By faith hearts are cleansed (Acts 15:9, And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith).

God's Spirit renews His people after the image of God. It is the aim of God's dealings with sinners that they become dedicated to Him and become holy. Sinners are not only to be delivered from the guilt of sin but also from the pollution and corruption of sin. We start to loathe ourselves because of indwelling sin and we hunger and thirst for righteousness within. The Spirit restores the image of God in man by the Holy Spirit and we start to see like Christ. Our unclean eyes start to see like the pure eyes of Christ. Then our unwilling feet become very willing. We desire to follow the Lamb whithersoever He leads us. This is the most blessed and special work of the Holy Spirit.

This is a very experiential matter. To live with a holy God, we need the meritorious work of the Son and the applicatory work of the Holy Spirit. We become less and less in our own eyes as we see more and more sin in our lives. We also learn to flee from sin and to fight against it.

The Holy Spirit also changes the sinner to the image of Christ. A sign of a healthy spiritual life is that GodÕs children become more and more Christ-like. In themselves they remain poor sinners (cf. Romans 7), but the triune God has started a good work in their lives. Because of the sanctifying work of GodÕs Spirit, they see more sin in their lives, yet they commit less sin.

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