Sanctification is a Biblically oriented word but has become an emotive term among acknowledging Christians. As defined by Fanning (2009, p. 04), “sanctification is an act, process or experience of consecration and purification by which a person is made holy and acceptable to God through the supernatural works of the Holy Spirit.” In this sense, it is defined to involve the departure from the contaminations and affluence of the world and abandonment of sins. Therefore, it translates to a comprehensive process by which the accepted are converted in the spirit. The acceptability is by Christ who is always with us and connects us with the father, and sanctification denotes Christ within ourselves by the spirit.
According to Phillips (2001, p.05), “sanctification is an action of the Holy Ghost that makes holy the believer by instilling in him the Christian graces and the destruction of sinful affections.” Owing to this definition, sanctification can be translated as the works of free grace of God, in which the believers are made new. The renewal is done on God’s image, thus making the believer able to refrain from sins and live a righteous life.
Biblically, sanctification is linked to some other words such as holy and saint. Therefore, the concept has the notion of being transformed to holiness or righteousness. In the book of Thessalonica, chapter four verse three, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.” Jesus Christ the icon of righteousness and holiness sanctified Himself to set an example, “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” He also died on the cross for the sake of the human being’s sins, for them to get sanctified. In the Old Testament, when something was presumed to be holy and sanctified, it was set apart. Example of some sanctified things are; the Sabbath day, lamb of sacrifice, firstborns, first fruits, and altars.
According to Turner (2013, p.02), “sanctification is the process of putting off the old ways of life and putting on new ways of life through salvation.” The definition presents two ways of life of a person namely; the old and the new. Therefore, believers are challenged to strive day in day out to become less of their old spiritual appearance. The meaning thereof is that the more we shun our old ways, and the more we put on new things spiritually, the more sanctified we appear on the presence of God.
The literal meaning of sanctification is simply the act of setting apart or separating. In this perspective, sanctification of a believer is comprised of three aspects. The first aspect is that through sanctification, their souls have been set apart by God by the way of salvation. The second aspect is that their grace grows gradually thus becoming more separated on a daily basis as they produce to the Holy Spirit. The yielding is achieved through righteousness and occasional reading of the holy word for guidance. The third aspect is that the believers’ bodies will be separated fully by God when He will come for His believers and give them new bodies.
These words may be of offense to some people because of the way they are abused by radical Christian assemblies which are well known for being emotional than for deeply understanding the bible. This situation notwithstanding, the term in general denotes the way in which Christians can overcome sinful ways of their lives so as to become righteous. Owing to all of the different perspectives of definition above, one can conclude that sanctification is works of the most high, in which through the death of Jesus Christ, He sets apart the believers for divine custody, adoration and service.
The sanctification is purely based on salvation a word that defines the summation of believers’ spiritual lives. Salvation is the means of being delivered from the sinful life through Christ. For sanctification to take place and be successfully achieved, one must achieve salvation first. The concept salvation is multidimensional and is made up of three elementary concepts. The first concept is the past; the second is the present and the third is the future. To this end, the three concepts denotes the insinuation that believers have been saved from the past life, they are being saved, and they will be saved in perpetuity.
Christians have been saved from the blame and consequence of sin the instant they were filled with God’s grace and believed in Christ. The salvation is through the death of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. The present aspect of salvation denotes the perfect position the Christians are, having being saved. Despite being saved, they continually sin in their daily lives. Therefore, there is the need for deliverance from daily sinful nature. The deliverance is from the daily experience of the power of sins. The aspect of future salvation asserts that there comes a day in the next life when the true Christians will be totally delivered from sins. During these future days, Christians will experience total freedom from sins. There will be no more sins, nor conflicts and inward struggles, no more suffering, tears, and grief.
For the sanctification to occur, the three persons of the trinity must be involved. God, the father, sanctifies Christians by giving them the truth. His holy word is the truth, the way and the salvation. Therefore, His presence is a condition for sanctification. God, the son, gave Christians the hope of sanctification through His death on the cross. He commands them to follow His teachings to the letter because the teachings themselves are the salvation. He also claims to be the light, the way, and the truth and no one can go to his father without passing through Him. The passing through him is not literal, but it is only doing according to His teachings that one can obtain the Sanctification and approval by the most high. The Holy Spirit is a helper in the process of sanctification. Since sanctification is obtained through salvation and the journey to salvation is full of vagaries, there is a need to have a helper and a comforter. The Holy Spirit chips in at this capacity to help the Christians in maneuvering through their journey of salvation and sanctity. The Holy Spirit is also used by God the father to ascertain His presence. He manifests Himself to sanctified Christians through the Holy Spirit.
There are several means through which a person acquires salvation. These agents work hand in hand to ensure that a Christian achieves sanctification. The first means is through the spirit in the divine trinity. The father offers ultimate sanctification evident from the book of first Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 23. The son involves Himself in preliminary sanctification evident from Ephesians chapter 5 verse 26. The spirit offers preliminary sanctification and continues to support the individual in the journey to eternal sanctity.
Evident from the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit offers resolutions to contamination stemming from the wicked human spirit. At the time of confession of David, there is involvement of the spirit of the Lord. He helps David in seeking for forgiveness, the restoration process, and sanctification. David could not have experienced the purification without the assistance of the Holy Spirit of God. Similarly, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ promises His disciple a helper who is the Holy Spirit. He consoles them and gives them strength in their salvation journey towards obtainment of the eternal sanctity.
The second means is through the Holy Scripture. The Holy Scripture denotes the word of God that is always alive. It is an agent of sanctification both preliminarily and progressively. According to John chapter 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word id truth.” The body requires food for growth and development just as the soul requires spiritual growth and development in grace. The food for the soul is the word of God, and it is, therefore, vital that the soul gets nourished occasionally. Similarly, just as the body requires to be cleansed occasionally, so is the soul through the word of God. Hence, reading, understanding and doing in accordance with the word is a means of obtaining sanctity.
The third through acknowledging Jesus Christ in the lives of Christians. In the gospel, Jesus Christ acknowledges Himself as the way, the truth and the only link to God the father, the giver of the eternal sanctity. As the Christians walk more with the Christ and glorify Him, the more sanctified they become. He is, therefore, a means to sanctification of Christians. The fourth means is through chastisement in which God sets Christians apart more by His chastening hands. To this effect, He sends them through fire as described in Hebrews 12: 10 as a way of trying and strengthening their faith in eternal sanctification.
The fifth means is through the church that is an aid in acquiring sanctity by constantly reminding Christians of what is expected of them. A Christian who, attends the services loyally becomes further set apart to the God’s side. The sixth means is through Christian friends whom one shares a common goal of achieving eternal sanctity with. A Christian, who walks and associates with the right people will be more set apart unto God than when they associate with those of little belief or faith. The seventh most important means are through God the Father. In the Holy Scripture, in the book of Hebrews 13: 12, He is referred to as God of peace who sanctifies the Christians wholly. Communion with the Father helps Christians in becoming further set apart towards God.
The last means is through the prayers. Prayers keep Christians close to God always. It is a way of connecting with God whenever in need, and God’s intervention is required. Through prayers, Christians pray grace for themselves and others. Prayers be done either in private or in public in accordance with the situation that is confronting the Christians.
Sanctification is not an instantaneous act, but it’s a gradual process. This process is made up of 3 significant stages namely; the past, the present, and the future. The first stage takes place at the commencement of the Christian life. It is the preliminary moral change, a shift from the power and affection for sins. At this point, believers can proudly proclaim to be dead in terms of sins but alive in God. Once sanctification begins, Christians are no longer slaves of sinful life and dominion. Reorientation of desires occurs, and they develop an affinity for righteousness. Paul terms the situation as becoming a slave of righteousness.
The second stage under sanctification takes place within the whole lifetime of Christians. As the Christians grow in faith and grace, they gradually attain a Jesus-like character. The gradual growth occurs in the process of every day’s spiritual replenishment. Saint Paul continually became sanctified as he attended others spiritually. Saint Paul himself claimed that he had not reached the perfection stage, but he was still pressing on to accomplish all the things that Christ anticipated for him.
The third stage which is final in the sanctification process is that which will take place in the future. When Christian believers die, their spirits go to rest with the Christ. Christians must make themselves clean and be perfect just like Jesus Christ did. The perfection is a must because nothing unclean will go to heaven. The person’s sanctification that involves the body, the soul, and the spirit will be complete eventually when Jesus Christ returns. As such, the true believers who are sanctified in the two initial stages will obtain glorified bodies.
Sanctification is associated with a variety of fruits and other results. The first result is the assurance of the love of God. God Himself compares us to His son Jesus Christ and wants us to obtain perfection just like Jesus did. Those who will obtain perfection in terms of being wholly sanctified will receive God’s love. According to the bible, those who does God’s will makes Him happy and He calls them His own. For God to call someone His own, they must live in accordance with his will. When they do, they are assured of the eternal sanctity and God’s love.
The second result is tranquility of conscience. When one starts the sanctification process and live in accordance with the will of God, they automatically receive tranquility of conscience. Apostle Paul urges Christians always to be happy if when they are being persecuted. An individual cannot obtain tranquility of conscience if they are not sanctified. In the absence of sanctification, individuals always fight back their persecutors. The third result is endurance to persecutions and all the vagaries of the world. Sanctified Christians do not give up, but they endure until the end. Such Christians do so with determination so as to achieve the final stage of sanctification that is eternal sanctification.
The fourth fruit is joyfulness in the Holy Spirit. When Christians obtain sanctity, they obtain joy in Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit to this extent is a comforter and a giver of strength. The Holy Spirit cannot respond to comfort or strengthen a Christian, who has not obtained sanctity. When one believes, the Holy Spirit will always respond to their prayers and give them joy in life. The fifth result is increased grace. Those who have sanctity are fully filled with the grace of the highest. They are thus able to undertake their daily life activities with ease and are full of dignity. The deeds of such Christians are pleasant and are always polite. They do not easily become upset and always treat people with fairness.
Christians have several ways of being assured of sanctification. The first fundamental way of assurance is through scriptural faith. The focus of biblical faith rests upon the written word of God. This is the reason Apostle Paul proclaims that the word of God is “word of faith.” When a Christian believes, the word of God perpetually works wonders in that Christian. With short of faith, it is hard for a Christian to please God who is the giver of the eternal sanctity. Those who seek God are urged to faith in Him and believe that He is a rewarder. A good example of a demonstration of faith from the Old Testament is how Abraham obeyed God. He was rewarded abundantly and he is the father is all generations. Therefore, Christians have the assurance of sanctification so long as they have faith in God just like the word of faith tells directs.
The second fundamental way of assurance of sanctification on Christians is the presence of the Holy Spirit through witness. In scriptures, God provides the Spirit as the witness to assert the assurance of saving His seekers. Similarly, there is an assurance of sanctification evident from witness of the Spirit as asserted in the Holy Scriptures. A good example of such an extract from the Bible is from the book of Roman.
Romans 8:15-16 says, “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
The presence of variation of people’s perceptions on the Spirit means that some people may have doubts on Scriptural assurance. Therefore, having faith in the word of God should be the Christians’ primary grounds of assurance. Reliance on direct witness of Spirit as the assurance of sanctification may be prone doubts especially when one does not directly feel the witness of the Spirit. Apostle Paul clearly stipulates that those who are righteous live with faith, but do not rely on feelings. The only permanently abiding assurance of sanctification is belief in the word of God.
In conclusion, sanctification is a long process that requires ultimate devotion from a Christian. Sanctification is purely based on salvation a word that defines the summation of believers’ spiritual lives. It is the means of being delivered from the sinful life through Christ. There are several means through which sanctity is obtained. Some of these means are; through prayers, through the Holy Scriptures and spiritual believe. The concept of sanctification greatly depends on the believing in the word of God and reliance on the witness of the Spirit. The assurance of the eternal sanctity is so direct in the witness of the Spirit than believing in scriptural writing.
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