When I was a kid I was often confused at many of the big words I would hear during church. Atonement, justification, purification, blasphemy, glorification…..they all served to confuse me more than enlighten me.
The one that confused me the most was probably the word sanctification. I knew it sounded important and people talked about it in glowing terms, but I couldn’t put the word and the meaning together until I was probably in my teens. I knew it had something to do with being made holy, but I was never really told how that was supposed to happen. Sanctification is a process word, so what was the process?
Finally, I was given an explanation from one of my guides in life who told me “Sanctification is the work of Christ in you, the sign that you are no longer independent, but completely dependent on Him.” That made sense to me. Now I knew that sanctification was about Christ working within me to prepare me for what He has in store for me. I knew that it required me to end my battle with him for the territory of my soul.
2 Timothy 2:21 helps explain the process when it says, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” Sanctification is about ridding oneself of the dishonorable things that separate us from God so that we might be formed in His image as holy and honorable and useful.
The process of sanctification can be compared to an iceberg, which is almost 90% under water. As the sun shines on the iceberg, the exposed part melts, moving the lower part upward.
In the same way, we are usually aware of only a small part of our sinfulness and need, which is all we can deal with at any one time. However, as the light of God’s work in our lives changes us in the areas we know about, we become aware of new areas needing the work of God.
The process of sanctification or of being made holy is a constant process throughout one’s life of submission and realization. As our defenses are done away with, the process of change from sinner to saint takes place. We slowly transfer from sentenced to saved, from sacrilegious to sacred.
Throughout the lives of the willing, the Holy Spirit works in their hearts to sanctify them in truth which can only be found in the Word of God. John 17:17 says as much saying, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.”
But only the willing can be open to this kind of change. Only one who is inclined can be sanctified because it requires one to surrender the old Adam for the new. In Galatians 2:20, Paul explained his own process to the churches in and around Galatia. He explained it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Paul made the most famous transformation in Scripture. At one time he was driven by the law as a persecutor of Christians and then, by God’s grace, he was transformed into their champion. Once blinded by the process of tradition and commandment that led him to seek out those who followed Christ for destruction, he became one made holy through submission to the same Christ he had once renounced. From persecutor to protector.
God hopes to work that same transformation in you. His greatest wish is to make you holy as He is holy. But that can only happen if you are willing to let Him work in you the blessing of sanctification. To be made holy means to separate yourself from worldliness. It’s a long process but God loves you enough to help you as long as it takes. In the end, He offers you the very greatest of rewards.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Are you ready to be made into a new creation, one who is constantly being shaped into holiness? It will take commitment and discipline as you learn to be completely dependent on Christ. It certainly won’t happen overnight, but little by little that ice burg will be exposed and all that will be left is the glory.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for guiding us into holiness. Give us determination during the process of sanctification and help us in our journey from worldliness to sacredness. Amen.