Loading
00:00
LESSON 19

Justification Part 2 and Sanctification Part 1

David Hocking Photo David Hocking
(%)

All of the ideas and principles conveyed by the instructor in this course are not necessarily held by the Blue Letter Bible ministry.


We want to take just another look at justification before we whip over to sanctification. There’s a sense in which justification and sanctification are speaking of the same truth, just from a different side. And that might seem a little strange to you. But in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 where the apostle Paul lists some very gross things that were in the lives of the Corinthians telling them in verses 9-11 [1Cr 6:9-11],

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, not idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed [now listen to this] but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

So in Paul’s writings, he seems to connect being forgiven, cleansed, justified, and sanctified as all referring to the conversion of the individual. And we’ll be talking about that shortly. But in both cases of justification and sanctification there is a position that we have in Christ and there is a matter of practice. We all know that in Christ we have been declared righteous. We are not made righteous until the second coming of Christ. But all during our life that doesn’t mean that we do righteous things. There’s a sense in which he who is righteous must do righteousness according to 1 John. There is a practice of righteousness as surely as there is a position of righteousness—righteousness meaning the same thing as justification. We’re declared righteous. That’s our position, but then we’re supposed to manifest that righteousness in our life. And how that’s done is the subject that we’ll really get into in sanctification.

Now, when we talked about our position in Christ, we were at Romans chapter 5. And I want to just whip back there if you will in your Bibles and notice the provisions that we have in Him. There are three basic provisions of justification. There’re a lot more that we could add to this list, but three basic or foundational ones. Romans 5:1-11, let’s read the first eleven verses, if you’ll follow along—a great argument of justification.

Three Basic Provisions of Justification

1. Peace with God

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2. Access into Grace

“By whom we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

3. Salvation from Wrath

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

[Romans 5:1-11]

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

That word atonement is the same word translated reconciled. You can say the reconciliation as some modern translations give it.

What he is saying is there are things that we have that have been accomplished because we have been declared righteous in Christ. And these form the foundational meaning of justification. If somebody asks you, “What does it mean for you that you have been justified before God?” It means you have peace with God. This is a very important issue because we were enemies, alienated. Paul wrote about this both in Colossians (cf. Col 1:21) and Ephesians (cf. Eph 4:18). We were alienated from God. We don’t have the life of God. We’re enemies of God. Our sins have separated between us and our God that He will not hear (cf. Isaiah 59:1-2).

To say that we have peace with God is a major statement of justification. In other words, whatever was wrong between us and God has been solved and resolved. It’s all over. The war is won. We now have victory through our Lord Jesus Christ and that is a precious fact that we have peace with God. As some of you know, this doesn’t necessarily imply that we have the peace of God ruling and reigning in our hearts. Positionally peace has been made. Like two warring nations in a war, they sit down and sign a peace agreement. Now it may or may not be real peace, of course, but that’s what it’s talking about when it says peace with God.

Go over to Philippians chapter 4. In addition to the issue of peace with God which is a matter of our position in Christ. Being declared righteous gives us that. There’s the matter of the peace of God. A peace that God puts into the heart of the believer based on something he does, Philippians 4:6-7.

6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7 And the peace of God, [Now, you already have peace with God. but the peace of God…] which passeth all understanding, [Sometimes you won’t be able to understand why you’re so much at peace when everything is falling apart around you.] the peace of God that passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds… [It’s in the area of our hearts and minds that we’re most greatly troubled.] It will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Now when he says, “be careful for nothing” or “be anxious about nothing” or “don’t worry about anything.” The particular Greek word translated ‘be careful’ is a word meaning ‘to divide.’ And it comes to mean ‘to be distracted,” the word, merismos. You remember in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, that we “don’t need to worry about what we should put on or what we should eat? We’re to look at the birds and the flowers. And don’t worry about tomorrow cause sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (cf. Matthew 6:25-31). He uses the exact same word. Don’t worry about anything! Literally it means don’t be distracted. Don’t get your mind off the Lord who has promised to meet all your needs and get it onto your circumstances because they often will trouble you to the point that you don’t know up from down.

So, the whole point of how God will bring His peace in to you is by not being distracted or divided in your thoughts away from the Lord and the fact that He is in charge. Everything is going to turn out. Don’t be troubled. Don’t be anxious. It’s all going to work out.

Now in 1 Peter 5:7 it says, “Casting all your care upon Him [many of you know that] for He careth for you.” There are two different words for care in that verse. When he says, “casting all your care,” it’s the same word here in Philippians 4:6. Anxiety we might say or the distractions of life that get our eyes off of the Lord. The chorus says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Life is all about is keeping your eyes on the Lord. It’s so easy to get your eyes off of the Lord.

There’re a lot of guys who read one Psalm and one Proverb each day, that I have challenged to do so around the country and we’re on our fifth and final month in the Book of Psalms and today was Psalm 121 and also Proverbs 1. But in Psalm 121:1-2 it said this morning, I thought it was so beautiful, “I lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” In other words, the point of it is not the hills aren’t going to help you. The hills are a reminder that God made them. And God’s in charge and if He created the universe He can handle your deal. So your problem is no biggie on His list at all. “My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”

So you see, our problem is getting our eyes off of the Lord. There’s the fundamental issue. Why? Because we are justified, we have peace with God. Why isn’t the peace of God often in us? You see Christians that are nervous and stressful and filled with anxiety, worrying about this and that. What’s the problem here? The real core problem is not the circumstances of your life. That’s what we always say. “Well, if you only knew what I’ve got to do. Hey, I’m working three jobs, trying to go to school—all this stuff, I mean, and people pressuring me.”

No, no, no. That isn’t the issue. The issue is getting your eyes off the Lord. When you get your eyes off the Lord and you look only at the circumstances, you know what’s going to happen. You’re going to be troubled, filled with anxiety. Even panic can set in because things are turning out like you thought. “Cast all your anxiety on Him,” the Bible says. Why? “For He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). And here He changes the word. God doesn’t ever have anxiety.

Now we’re talking about a word that really has compassion in it. See, because you are distracted, don’t think God is ready to hit you over the head for being so. You know, you say, “Man, I’ve got my eyes on the circumstances. I’m all bent out of shape.” Isn’t it nice, God doesn’t say, “Well, for that I’m not talking to you for a week.” Hey, thank the Lord that He always cares for you and for me. He knows that you’re having trouble. He knows that the circumstances in your life, your relationship with people are now dominating you, confusing you and messing you up. And He says, “Hey, just unload over here. I’ll take care of it.”

It’s beautiful what He says in Hebrews 4:16. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” When he said “come boldly,” there’re a lot of usages of that. But one interesting one I found, was the Greek word was used to throw up everything—let go of it! Do you understand that God doesn’t want you to talk to Him and say give Him two or three little things you think maybe He can handle and then you keep some inside. No, no, no. God wants you, as it were, to throw up everything. “Come boldly to the throne of grace, you’ll find mercy and grace to help.” You give it all to the Lord. Lay it all at His feet. Let go of it. Stop hanging on! And the peace of God will keep, or put a garrison literally, a fortress around your heart and mind. It will be a protection—God’s wonderful peace. “Let the peace of God dwell in you,” the Bible says, (Colossians 3:15).

So apparently we have a responsibility to let it happen. And it’s easy to get off the Lord and get on to your circumstances. What I’m trying to say to you is that isn’t it interesting you can say out of one side of your mouth, “I have peace with God.” And you all do, who have truly come to know the Lord. But it’s another thing to say, that you’re experiencing the result of that in your personal life. So there is a difference between position and practice.

Another provision that we have is access into this grace in which we stand. Notice he uses the word, ‘we have.’ Romans 5:1, “We have peace with God.” Verse 2 [Rom 5:2], “We have this access into the grace in which we stand.” Now a standing emphasizes our position. You are in grace, surrounded by grace, the recipient of grace; you worship the God of all grace. But it’s something different to avail yourself of it. As I just quoted from Hebrews 4:16, we’re come to the throne of what? Grace. We have access unto the throne room of God because we have been declared righteous. Otherwise you couldn’t come. There’s no way that you could come to a holy God with all your sin were it not for the justification of our Lord. He declared you righteous. Now, you can come as Hebrews says “with boldness.”

A new and living way He has consecrated through the veil of His flesh and He says, “Let us draw near. “If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us” (James 4:8). What does that mean? He’s already here. It’s got to mean what Brother Lawrence said in the Middle Ages when he wrote a beautiful book, Practicing the Presence of Christ. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. In other words, the presence of the Lord, His wonderful peace, His grace that gives us much more than we deserve, becomes a reality in you now because you are practicing your position in Christ.

Is everybody following? It’s kind of a thin line isn’t it, as to which one we’re talking about? Sometimes you can get so much in the area of practice that you forget your position in Christ and you start doubting your relationship with God. So understand your position. Nothing’s going to change it. “Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ our Lord” (Romans 8:39). But understand that doesn’t mean that you’re enjoying or practicing the righteousness that you have in Christ.

Now another thing we have, we thank God for it, is salvation from wrath, according to Romans 5:9. You know, it’s easy to read that lightly without thinking too much. What do you suppose he’s talking about? Anyone want to venture a guess? Tribulation? Maybe. Punishment in hell. I think what he’s talking about is hell—“saved from wrath through Him by His blood.” Whether we’re in the Tribulation or not that’s a true statement of all who are in Christ.

When you think about being saved from wrath, isn’t it interesting that a lot of our communication of the gospel leaves that point out. He (Jesus) said, “Where the worm dies not, the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44) and “where there’s weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42). It’s a place of torment where people will be tormented forever and ever from the presence of the Lamb. The awfulness of it! And then to read about how wonderful justification is, let me tell you something, the position that you have in Christ is the guarantee that you will not be in hell. Thank God it’s not related to our performance, because our performance proves that we belong there. So praise the Lord!

And on the positive side, our place in heaven is assured. Why? Because we’ve been justified, even as chapter 19 of Revelation hits us in the wonderful Second Coming of Christ, it speaks of the marriage supper of the Lamb and it says that the fine linen clothed in white is the righteousness of the saints (cf. Revelation 19:3).

You remember in the Old Testament that the Messiah would come and clothe us in garments of righteousness, garments of joy, not of mourning; garments of praise, not of defeat (cf. Isaiah 61:10). And in Christ, you have been clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will never be any more righteous twenty years from now, than the day you come to Christ. Amen?

This brings us to the whole issue of sanctification, which to me flows off of justification.

To Sanctify ~ To Make Holy

HAGIAZO(verb) — to sanctify; make holy
HAGIASMOS(masculine noun) — sanctification; holiness
HAGION(neuter adjective) — holy structures set apart for God
HAGIOS(adjective) — holy; sanctified; chast; pure
HAGIOTES(feminine noun) — holiness (Hebrews 12:10)
HAGIOSUNE(feminine noun) — holiness; sanctity
HAGNEIA(feminine noun) — purity; chastity (1 Timothy 4:12)
HAGNISMOS(masculine noun) — consecration; purification (Acts 21:26)
HAGNIZO(verb) — to purify; make clean
HAGNOS(adjective) — chaste; pure; perfect; holy
HAGNOS(adverb) — purely; sincerely (Philippians 1:16)
HAGNOTES(feminine noun) — purity; sincerity (2 Corinthians 6:6)

Sanctification is the same thing as holiness. Sanctification has become among some denominations, a doctrine separated from holiness. Watch out. It’s the exact same word: to sanctify, to make holy, also translated to be chaste, to be pure, to be made clean, or translated sincerely even or sincerity, consecration, chastity. All of these things are sometimes misleading because if you lump them all together, they’re all the same root. They all refer to sanctification. They all refer to holiness. And as you notice some of them are used fairly often and some not so often. Look at the fourth one down, hagios, which is an adjective, holy or pure is used 223 times in the New Testament alone, but ninety—three times it’s used as an adjective for the Holy Spirit. The verb, to make holy or to sanctify is used twenty—nine times, the rest of them just here and there, some only once and some twice—not much more.

But this is a very important doctrine and I prepared myself a bit by picking up some denominational statements of faith. And you would be absolutely astounded. I would recommend you do that sometime. We have one group of people that almost has built their entire church on the subject—the Nazarenes. The doctrine of sanctification is fundamental to being a member of the Nazarene Church. And it’s very interesting how many churches in their definitions disagree with one another. And you certainly remember the test you took on justification, right? Well, I haven’t done so, but I could have given you one on sanctification exactly the same way. Why? Because the problem of justification that we saw, were people war between whether you are just declared righteous or whether you’re actually made righteous, is also in the issue of sanctification. Is your holiness, your sanctification, is that a position or is that something you achieve by reading the Bible more, praying more, being filled with the Spirit, speaking in tongues or whatever?

How is a person sanctified? And that is a fundamental issue; you are now dealing with one of the most critical doctrines in the Christian church today. They hear sermons that imply it all the time and they believe what they’re hearing is the truth. It’s motivational. You want to be holy, then you get on your knees before God. Well, I’m sorry that’s not the way to get holy, but it does sound good. Is everybody understanding me? This is a very serious doctrine as it relates to the Christian life. Sanctification or holiness, and once again like justification, there is a position that we have in the Lord.

And we’ve got to take a look at that and see what God means. Now in order to develop this and kind of get away from all the denominational and preacher types who have said this and that, let’s just move all that aside and let’s come and do a strict study of the word sanctification on four basic points.

Sanctification: Four Basic Usages

1) Grammatical — to set apart; separate
2) General — to set apart for any special purpose (Hosea 4:14)
3) Religious — to set apart for God and His use (Genesis 2:3)
4) Moral — to set apart from sin (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)

Grammatical—and I want you to know this, the meaning of sanctification—there’s a grammatical meaning and it simply means “to set apart or to separate.” That’s all it means. This will help you, by the way, because things can be sanctified, meaning to set apart. They are separated for a particular reason: the tabernacle, the lamp stand, the bread, the table, the furniture, the altar, the garments, tools, sacrifices. They can all be sanctified and are so treated that way. Grammatically it means to be set apart. That’s important for you to understand. Because you can start thinking right now about the meaning of it and ask yourself, “To what extent are you and I separated from sin and its consequences?” That’s sanctification. To what extent are you separate? To what extent are we holy? God says, “Be ye holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). How does that happen? God says that He “Chose us before the foundation of the world that we would be holy and without blame” (Ephesians 1:4). How are we going to achieve that?

Now in addition to that we have what is called the general meaning of the term. This general meaning is what we usually apply to things; to set apart for any special purpose. It can even be negative. I gave you one real wild example in Hosea 4:14, where they are separated or sanctified or made holy with prostitutes! Being separated with prostitutes certainly does not fit our idea of sanctification. We think of it as exactly the opposite. But the point is that the usage of the word in a general way could be applied that way; that these people, instead of following the living Lord, separated themselves unto evil. And the same word that we would use for holy or separate is used. So that makes it a difficult subject. General meaning—meaning separated for any special purpose—it doesn’t even have to be divine.

Third, we have what we call the religious meaning of the word, which is to set apart for God and His use. Now this is important. Why? Well, how about the Sabbath day? It was sanctified by God. Read Exodus 31, which says, “The Sabbath is for the children of Israel.” But why did God set it apart? What’s the point of all that? That’s a big question. People get all bent out of shape over that teaching. I’m simply trying to tell you that it is a religious matter. Many times when you say ‘sanctify’ you are separating something for a religious purpose, namely for God and for His use.

Number four, we have the moral meaning of the word. And that always means to set apart from sin. And there’s where our debate comes in Christianity. Exactly to what extent are you and I separated from sin? Or to put it another way, to what extent do you and I by our activities or attitudes separate ourselves from sin? Did God separate you from sin and its consequences? Or are you separated by what you do or don’t do? Or is it both? And that’s where we are. This is just the meaning of the word.

So if I asked you, what is the basic meaning of the word? Your answer would be, “to set apart.” If I said, what’s the general usage?—could be for any purpose. What’s the religious usage? Set apart for God and His use. See, it’s very simple. What’s the moral use of the word? Set apart from sin. Okay? So, that I want you to know. I want you to understand because it’s going to affect so many things when you study the words holy, or sanctification, or purity in the Bible.

Now, and this is another thing that is not taught by all denominations, each Person of the Godhead is involved in your sanctification. It’s not just the Holy Spirit. In John 17:17, would you turn there please? This is what we call the high priestly prayer of Christ, the real Lord’s prayer. The other one was a prayer for His disciples to pray, but this was when He prayed to His heavenly Father. Many people have said, “When you come to chapter 17, you feel like taking your shoes off because the place where you’re standing is holy ground.” There’s a lot of truth to that. One has to be very careful how much he thinks he knows what Jesus is saying. If you’re talking about deity addressing deity we’d better really stick to what was actually said here. For us to try to say what it really means is kind of arrogant.

In John 17:17 however, Jesus is praying to His Father. How do we know that He’s praying to His Father? Verse 11! [Jhn 17:11] He addresses Him and look at the adjective in front of the word Father. What is it? Holy Father, the One who is set apart. Is He set apart for any purpose at all? Of course! Is He set apart for a religious purpose? Well, that means He’d have to sanctify Himself. God sanctifies Himself and says so, many, many times in the Old Testament. So now we have a more troubling doctrine to deal with. The Father literally sanctifies Himself. You say, “Well, then He must have sin.” No, that is just one of the usages of it. Is everybody still with us?

So Jesus prays to the Father and says, “Sanctify them….” Now, who’s the them? We’d better check it out. Verse 14-17 [Jhn 17:14-17]: “I have given them Thy word and the world hath hated them.” Well, now I know the ‘them’ is not the world. “…that Thou shouldst keep them from the evil [literally the evil one]. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Thy word. Thy word is truth.” Look at verse 19. “For their sakes, I sanctify Myself.” Even Jesus does it.

Now when He says sanctify them, He’s talking about believers, His disciples. “Set them apart through Thy truth. Thy word is truth.” One of the interesting things here, I’ve heard pastors use this to teach that as we study and read the Bible God continues to sanctify us. The interesting thing is the word sanctify in verse 17 [Jhn 17:17] is what we call aorist tense in Greek. A-O-R-I-S-T. It means a simple past tense, a point of time. It isn’t continuous at all. He didn’t say, “Father continue to sanctify them.” No! He said, “Father [boom] sanctify them through Thy truth. Thy word is truth.” Well, when did that happen?

Keep reading. Let’s go to Ephesians chapter 5 and notice the involvement of the Son of God. One of the ways to teach is to ask questions without answering. People in this generation say, “Hey, just don’t waste our time. Give me the answer!” Well, that doesn’t mean that you’re thinking it through, does it? Ephesians 5, we have a passage we usually hear at a wedding or when a pastor goes through Ephesians. We come to verse 25 [Eph 5:25], it says, “Husbands love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it.” Why? Why did He die for us? Why did He give His life for us? “That He might [what does it say?] sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.”

Now once again, I hear people say this (sanctification) is the continual cleansing of the believer. No, it’s not! Again it is aorist tense, a point of time. What is the point of time in the text? And the answer is “when He loved [past tense] the church,” and the explanation: “gave Himself for it.” It’s talking about the cross. When was the believer sanctified and cleansed with the washing of the water of the word? At the cross!

So you see, the passages that people keep using to prove to us a continuous idea, well, they’re just not the right passages.

Turn to Hebrews chapter 13. The Father sanctifies us. The Son sanctifies us. Hebrews 13:12 says, “Wherefore Jesus also that He might sanctify [aorist tense - point of time] the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate.” How are the people sanctified according to Hebrews 13:12? With His own blood!

Now also, the Spirit sanctifies us. Go over to 1 Peter 1:2. Peter is writing to those Jews who are dispersed abroad because of the persecution. He says, “You are elect or chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” That’s pretty similar to what Paul wrote. Now how are you chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father? Answer: “Through sanctification of the Spirit.” Wow!

How does God accomplish the fact that those whom He foreknew before the foundation of the world, whom He will choose to be saved, how does He accomplish it? Answer: through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. In other words, it is not your decision to receive Christ, but the work of the Holy Spirit in setting you apart. Apart for what? The obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, in other words, only the cross can achieve the salvation that God planned in the beginning of time. And the way it is done is by the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying you, setting you apart.

Isn’t that interesting? So, God the Father is involved. Jesus is involved. The Holy Spirit is involved in this whole thing we call sanctification, setting us apart.

What’s the method that is used by which we are sanctified? We already had it indicated, didn’t we in Hebrews 13:12? The blood. In 1 Corinthians 6:11 it says, “Such were some of you. But ye are washed, ye are sanctified [again past tense] ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the [what?] Spirit of our God.”

According to Hebrews 10:10-12, follow this carefully and you got to kind of keep thinking all the time: “By the which will.” Whose will are we talking about? Verse 9 [Hbr 10:9], Jesus said, “I come to do thy will, O God.” “By the which will [the will of Jesus Christ] we are sanctified [again, past tense] through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ [every other day].” Is that what it says? No, what does it say? “Once for all”—well now, wait a minute. If He died 1900 years ago ‘once for all’ and by that one act sanctified us, then when are we sanctified? Interesting question! Gee, I wonder what the answer is?

Keep reading. “Every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oft times the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; [verse 14 - Hbr 10:14] by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Perfected? Completed? Forever?—those who are sanctified—hmmm…the plot thickens.

In Hebrews 13 we read a moment ago, it says that “He sanctifies the people with His own blood.” You see, whether we answer the question of when at this point, let’s answer the question of what. By what are you and I sanctified? The Bible is pretty clear, “By the blood of the Lord Jesus.”

Well, how are you justified?—“By the blood of the Lord Jesus.” How are you saved? By the blood…How are you reconciled? How are you regenerated?…by the blood of the Lord Jesus. According to John 17:17 and Ephesians 5:26, again which was a past act. He prayed to the Father in John 17 [Jhn 17:17] and says, “Sanctify them”—aorist tense, moment of time. “Sanctify them through the word, [the truth] the word is truth” (Ephesians 5:26). He died so that we’d be sanctified through the word.

Now what word are we talking about? Turn to 1 Peter chapter 1. You say, “Well, the way I got sanctified was by reading the genealogies.” That’s the word of God. 1 Peter 1:22. “Seeing ye have [what is that word?] purified your souls in obeying the truth.” How did you get saved? You obeyed the truth—“through the Spirit, who was working on you, unto unfeigned [or sincere, unhypocritical] love of the brethren.” You were saved to love others. “See that you love one another with a pure heart fervently.” In other words, don’t do it half-heartedly. It means to boil, to really be enthusiastic about it. We’re to love people fervently. How can I do that?

Well you’re “born again not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible by the word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). The genealogies? Let’s keep reading. “Which liveth and abideth for ever; for all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man is the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away. But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the [what is preached unto you?]—the gospel.” What is the word by which we’re sanctified, justified, redeemed, reconciled, etc.? It’s the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. What’s the gospel? 1 Corinthians 15, the gospel is that Christ died for our sins, was buried and the third day rose again and was seen by many people before He ascended into heaven. The gospel is also a part of the method by which you and I are sanctified.

Now, we’ve got something else. Turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Now remember we have talked about how the Godhead was involved. The Father sanctifies through the truth. The Son sanctifies through His blood. The Spirit sanctifies also so that we will obey God. He separates us so that we will respond to the gospel. Now the actual method that was used is the blood of Christ, which happened only once—if you’re Catholic it’s reenacted every week—but He died once and for all. That’s why I’m against the mass. I’m not against communion. I’m against the mass, the doctrine of the mass, where it (allegedly) becomes that actual body and blood of Christ. No, no, no. That was 1900 years ago.

I was sanctified by that blood, by the word of God, specifically the gospel. I’m also sanctified by the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you [set you apart] wholly; [in every way] I pray God and your whole [here it is, explaining what he means by in every way, wholly, completely] your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

24 Faithful is He that calleth you, who will also do it.

What guarantee do I have that I will remain holy and without blame clear until the Second Coming of Christ? And the guarantee is the faithfulness of God. He who called you, He will also do it. He’s going to do it. He’s going to see that it’s done. “He who began a good work in you, He will perform unto the Day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Turn to 1 John 3:1-3,

1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, [Second Coming] we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.

3 And every man that hath this hope in him [does what?] purifies himself, even as He is pure.

Now some say the He is pure means us. Not Jesus. In other words, you purify yourself, that’s your practice even as you are pure, meaning your position. Now, I don’t agree with that. I think the point is Jesus, every man that hath this hope in Him, literally upon Him; in other words, the hope of the Second Coming is resting on you. You purify yourself, even as the Lord is. The Lord becomes the standard by which you follow if you want to be Christ-like. Now God is not going to depend however on your performance to achieve it. His faithfulness is going to insure that you will be like the Lord. Because, “Faithful is He who called you, who will do it” (Our whole spirit, soul and body will be set apart.

In the Bible we have three kinds of sanctification for the believer and I could say four, but three as it relates to sin. The fourth one I could say is that we are sanctified, set apart to be used by God. 2 Timothy 2:19-22 tells us that. That’s another kind of usage, remember, in our four definitions of the meaning of the word. One of them is a religious use. And God sets some of us aside. So, there’s a sense in which there is a sanctification meaning, God setting you apart for His service. All the priests who were to minister in worship and represent the people were all sanctified, set apart from the people for that ministry—had no other employment but to do that.

Does God set apart people to do that today? Sure He does. He has gifted men that He has set apart to teach and equip the members of the body of Christ. So there is a view of that. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the issue of the moral sanctification and there are three ways to look at that. How you and I are set apart from sin.

There are three applications. They are very easy to follow. First of all is past. Past. When you become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are immediately set apart from the penalty of sin. The penalty of sin. So if I asked you, in past sanctification what are you set apart from? The answer: the penalty of sin. What is the penalty of sin? Death. He died for us once and for all. He destroyed the power of death. He sanctified all the children of God by it. You no longer have to worry. “Absent from the body, present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). The penalty of death, we’re not under any more. We’ve been set free. Death has no conquest over us whatsoever.

Number two is present sanctification. We are set apart from the power of sin to control us. Remember that when you come to Christ, “There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ” (cf. Romans 8:1). So you’ve already been set apart from the consequences of sin, if you mean penalty. But it may not mean that you’ve been set apart from the power of sin to control you, which we’re going to have to talk about. We haven’t talked about it yet.

The third kind of sanctification is future sanctification when you are set apart from the very presence of sin. Here’s just a real easy outline to remember.

1) Past sanctification - you are separated from the penalty of sin.

2) Present sanctification - separated from the power of sin.

3) Future sanctification - separated from the presence of sin.

Now does the Bible teach that you and I can sanctify ourselves? The answer is yes, it does. But it has nothing to do with past sanctification. And that’s where Christians get messed up. Let’s establish, first of all, remember God sanctified Himself. Can we sanctify ourselves? Yes. Turn to 2 Corinthians 7:1. At the end of chapter six that precedes this verse, we’re talking about the fact that we don’t have any fellowship unbelievers with believers, light with darkness. And we’re to come out from among them and “be ye” what?—separate,” (2 Corinthians 6:17), which is sanctification! Can we sanctify ourselves in terms of fellowship with unbelievers? Yes. You separate yourself from those who are not walking with God or don’t have any agreement.

Now the interesting thing is the application in 2 Corinthians 7:1. Remember there’s no chapter division in the original text. And this verse ends the paragraph. The paragraph ends at 7:1. A new paragraph starts at 2 Corinthians 7:2. Now it says, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves.” The Greek uses middle voice which means you do it in and of yourself. You say, “You can’t cleanse yourself.” Yes, you can. Does that deal with positional matters? No. You can’t cleanse yourself positionally. All sin was paid for by the blood of Christ. Well, do we cleanse ourselves practically? Yes, we do. Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, [meaning your attitudes] perfecting [What in the fear of God? What does it say? Perfecting what?] holiness. It’s the same word ‘sanctification.’

You and I can perfect or complete or bring to pass a measure of holiness in our life by doing what? — by cleansing ourselves from the filthiness of the flesh and of our bad attitudes.

Now is there any passage that would clearly teach what this means? Yes, there is. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 says, “To the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God even our Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” There’s your future sanctification— “Unblameable, totally without sin, in absolute holiness and sanctification at the Second Coming of Christ.”

Turn to 1 Thessalonians 4, begin at verse 1 [1Th 4:1-3].

1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us how you ought to walk and to please God, so you would abound more and more.

2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

3 For this is the will of God even your [what?] sanctification, [holiness. But look at the next statement.] that you should abstain from fornication: [sexual immorality].

So I ask you again, can you cleanse yourself from the filthiness of the flesh? You sure can, by staying away from sexual sin! In other words, there’s a past sanctification that deals with the penalty of sin. But there is a present sanctification that deals with the power of sin to control you. Now what happens when you get involved with fornication is that sexual sin begins to control your life. You become a slave to it. Now does that mean you’re not sanctified in the Lord Jesus? No. But it does mean that you haven’t experienced present sanctification. You’ve got the power of sin now controlling you.

We’ve got to find out what you do about that. How do you handle that? How do you deal with that? Well, it’s easy to say, stop it! And that is a very valid, wise response to anybody who’s involved in sexual immorality. You want to get the victory then stop it. But as you and I both know we’ve got to go to the root of the problem and figure out why this is happening and how you can have victory inside as well as outside. Because we know that people can stop doing it, but not stop fantasizing about it. We have to bring every thought into captivity to Christ, don’t we? (2 Corinthians 10:5). How do you do that? That’s a fundamental issue.

So there is a difference between position and practice.

Let’s pray.

Father, thank You for Your love. Thank You for Your grace and mercy that has called us unto yourself and thank You Lord that we are justified and sanctified in the Lord Jesus by Your precious Holy Spirit and Your wonderful word and the blood of Jesus that was shed for us. Father, we know that You want to use us in this life. Help us to understand sanctification in the light of it. That we might be Your kind of people who can be mightily used by You. I know You want to use us more than we want to be. Help us to see what the real problem is, in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.