Series Title: What It Is And What It Is Not
Sanctification: What It Is And What It Is Not
I was so thankful the day you revealed Your truth to me about sanctification. Help me to share this truth now from a place of humility and not pride – for I will need to speak plainly.
What Sanctification Is Not
Before we can discuss what sanctification is, we need to understand what it is not. Traditionally sanctification has been defined as “to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate; to purify or free from sin.”
Sanctification does involve the above definition, but at best the above definition is incomplete and at worst it is deceptive.
If sanctification means to make holy, purify from sin or set apart then what in the world did Jesus mean when He said:
“…for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” Joh 17:19
Wasn’t Jesus sinless? Wasn’t He already pure? Wasn’t He already set apart unto God? You see the above verse makes no sense when defined in the traditionally manor. And this is not the only verse where we find such confusion. How about:
1 Peter 3:15 KJ2000 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts … “
How does man sanctify God? Do we not already hold a special place in our hearts for God? Or do we think in our hearts that God is some kind of sinner that we need to make Him holy in our hearts? Once again the traditionally definition makes no sense.
After Moses and Aaron disrespected God at the waters of Meribah the Lord said:
Numbers 20:12 KJ2000 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron, Because you believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
It was through this passage of scripture that God began opening my eyes of understanding about sanctification. The phrase “… in the eyes of the children of Israel…” jumped off the page.
When we disobey God we reflect on Him – we show disrespect and cause those who are watching our lives to view God Himself in a more negative light – we fail to sanctify Him in the eyes of those who are watching. As God began speaking to me about sanctification I came to understand that sanctification is dealing with God’s honor and how our lives reflect on Him.
What Sanctification Is
Jeremiah 50:20 NIrV A new day is coming,” announces the LORD. “At that time people will search for Israel’s guilt. But they will not find any. They will search for Judah’s sins. But they will not find any. That is because I will forgive the people I have spared.
While we understand that Israel was taken into captivity because of their sin and disobedience, the nations believed it was because the God of Israel was weak.
To sanctify the Lord God is the opposite of that; it is to allow God to be in such an elevated place in your heart that anyone who observes your life can see the miraculous change. There is such a difference in the way you live that anyone watching is amazed that God could do such a thing. You are living a sanctified life when people look for sin in your life and yet can not find any. (But that does not mean God can not find any sin in your life – but rather humans can not find any sin in your life – even when they search for it)
Sanctification also conveys ownership and how the thing or person owned by God reflects on His reputation. The idea of sanctification is dealing with the Christian witness of His people.
When giving instruction about prayer Jesus said in:
Matthew 6:9 KJ2000 After this manner therefore pray: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Hallowed is defined as:
Consecrated to a sacred use, or to religious exercises; treated as sacred; reverenced.
The idea is we are to pray that God’s name will be reverenced and respected by everyone. The King James translators did a good job translating the meaning of this verse – well “sort of”… smile…
While the translators did convey the true meaning, the Greek word hagiazo was not usually translated “hallowed”.
This Greek word appears 29 times in the New Testament; translated once “holy” and twice “hallowed” each and every remaining 26 times in the New Testament this Greek word is translated either sanctified (16 times), sanctify (6 times), or sanctifieth (4 times).
A more technically correct translation would be “… Our Father who is in heaven, sanctified be your name.”
Once again we see how sanctification is dealing with God’s honor and His fame.
More often than not, sanctification is dealing with how the ungodly world looks at your life and NOT how God looks at your life.
Let us revisit 1 Peter 3:15 where it said:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…”
Now let’s read the remaining portion of the verse:
“…and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”
Again we have the idea of sanctification affecting what other people think concerning God and our lives. That is one of the many ways we sanctify the Lord God in our hearts – by being ready to give an answer to those who are watching and asking questions.
When Jesus said;
“…for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” (John 17:19)
…he was saying my obedience to the cross will bring glory and honor to the Father which in turn will empower those who follow me to also bring glory and honor to God.
Christians have a difficult time understanding they can NOT improve upon how God looks at their lives. When He sees you He is not looking at your righteousness but rather at the blood of Christ.
Most of us have some sort of imagination of what “The Perfect” Christian looks like and how the perfect Christian behaves. Imagine if you will, that by some miracle, when you wake up tomorrow – you become that perfect person you always wanted. Now let me ask, do you really think God would love you more tomorrow than He does right now?
While our experience with God is always in flux – up and down with our always moving faith, His relationship TOWARDS US is always the same. It is impossible for God to love you more than He does RIGHT NOW.
So when God looks at our sanctification He is not looking at how that affects Him or our relationship with Him, but rather how our lives are, or are not, representing Him to the world.
“To Be Sanctified” Illustrated
Acts 4:14-16 KJ2000 14 And beholding the man who was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle has been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
There are times when God’s presence, power and love are so obvious that even unbelievers and those who oppose Christ cannot deny it. This is the meaning of “to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts” or “to be sanctified“.
- If you sanctify yourself it means you have cleaned up your life to the point the people around you will notice.
- If God sanctifies you He crowns you with His Spirit to the point those around you notice something different, some may even comment about a glow about you as God has placed His glory on you which testifies you belong to Him. When they look at your life they have to admit that; “Only God could do this!” That is when you are living a sanctified life.
Matthew 5:14-16 HCSB “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
When the Bible speaks of our holiness, I believe it is taking into account the above concept – that our holiness incorporates the idea of how other people view our lives and if our life reflects God in a powerful way then we are considered “blameless” and living a holy life. And yet in God’s own eyes we may still have struggles with sin, but the world can not see those struggles because they are hid with Christ in God.
I will be editing the following table of examples of men who were considered “blameless” and yet had sin in their lives
|Men who were considered “blameless”||Their Sin|
|Noah Gen 6:9; Gen 7:1||Noah’s Sin Gen 9:20-23|