Sanctification is one doctrine that we tend to shy away from. We love to talk about the doctrine of redemption, justification, propitiation, and glorification. When these doctrines are preached we respond with shouts of ‘amen’ and ‘glory to God.’ However, when it comes to sanctification it is met with silence. The apostle Paul prays that we would be sanctified wholly and that we would be preserved blameless. To be sanctified wholly is to be sanctified completely. It is not just a spiritual thing. It affects our entire body and soul. Paul desired that we would be completely sanctified, that every part of us would be sanctified. As we are sanctified, then we become blameless and we are presented to God as a holy vessel, worthy of His presence.
The definition of sanctification. To be sanctified means to be ‘set apart’. In the Christian life, sanctification refers to the process of being made holy. It has to do with the whole Christian experience. The New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1833 says, “We believe that Sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of his holiness; that it is a progressive work; that it is begun in regeneration; and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer and Comforter, in the continual use of the appointed means—especially the Word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer.” Regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit that takes place the moment we believe on the Lord Jesus by faith. Regeneration is what we refer to as being ‘born-again.’ It is the entrance into a new life in Christ. Sanctification begins at the moment of regeneration and continues until the moment of glorification when are completely changed at the return of Christ. The Baptist Faith and Message states, “Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.” To put the definition of sanctification in layman’s terms: Sanctification is the process through which God makes us holy.
The need for sanctification. God created man in His image. Originally, man was perfect and without sin. However, when Adam fell in the Garden of Eden, sin entered into the world. From that point on, every person that is ever conceived has a sin nature. Since God is a holy and righteous God, He cannot have anything to do with sin. Therefore, sin separates us from God. The good news is that God loved us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son. Jesus came to this earth and paid the ultimate price of sin for us on the cross of Calvary. All those who place their faith in the Lord Jesus and believe on Him are redeemed and justified. We are set free from the penalty of sin and given an eternal home in heaven. However, though our sins have been atoned for, we still have a sin nature. We still have a tendency toward sin. This is where sanctification comes in. It is the process through which God is working in us that we would not only be declared as righteous, but that we would be righteous.
Sanctification is the great need of the hour for the church today. We have allowed too much of the world in our lives. We have flirted with sin too long. We wonder why we do not see a mighty move of God. We wonder why we do not see the power of God displayed in our lives and in the church. We wonder why God does not do great things through us. Let me tell you something: God cannot bless a mess. When there is sin in our lives, when there is sin in the church, God cannot and will not use us. He cannot use a dirty vessel. We must be made clean in order to be used of God. When the divorce rate is just as high or higher amongst Christians as it is in the world, something is wrong. When people who claim to be Christians, yet they are living in a blatant immoral lifestyle something is wrong. When there is Christians who think its ok to drink alcohol and do drugs, then something is wrong. When we fill our closets with material things and not give anything to help the poor, something is wrong. When we come to church on Sunday and then go to work on Monday cussing like a sailor, something is wrong. When we don’t read our Bible, something is wrong. When we don’t pray, something is wrong. When we are not faithful to being actively involved in the local church, something is wrong. When someone in the church is living in unrepentant sin and we just look the other way, something is wrong. When we allow sin to run rampant in the church and we just sweep it under the rug, something is wrong. Look at Ephesians 5:1-21. My friend, we are called to be holy as He is holy. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit and not filled with the world. We desperately need God to sanctify us.
The pain of sanctification. Read Hebrews 4:12-13. Sanctification is a painful thing. It is God doing surgery on our lives. He cuts out the sin and replaces it with His love and grace. Sanctification requires change. As we are sanctified, we will stop doing what we are doing and we will repent of our sin and start doing what God has designed and purposed for us to do. Read Romans 6:1-6. Now that we have been regenerated. Now that we have been saved. We have not right to continue in sin. Look at Romans 6:10-14. Jesus died in order to take away our sin. As a Christian, you are to be dead to sin. As a Christian, you do not have to keep on sinning. Sin has no control over you. The power of God lives within you. Stop yielding yourself to sin and yield yourself to God. Stop opening yourself up to sin and open yourself up to the Word of God. You say, Pastor, I can’t stop. Yes you can. No one is making you sin. You sin according to your own choosing. Just stop it, in the name of Jesus! Nothing good ever comes from sin. It will destroy you and it will destroy the church. When sin in the church is not dealt with and we just sweep things under the rug and look the other way, the church’s influence in the community will diminish and instead of being a church we will just be another country club. Sanctification hurts. But, it is worth it all. Allow God to perform spiritual surgery on your life and remove the sin and fill you with His Spirit.
The results of sanctification. As sanctification occurs it brings tremendous results. There are several results of sanctification. (1) A holy life. Sanctification changes the way you live. The sin you have grown accustomed to will become distasteful. Your attitude will change. Your worldview will change. Your behavior will change. (2) A revived church. When real sanctification occurs, the church is revived. The key to revival is repentance. When we confess our sins, and repent of our sins, then God will move in a mighty way. His power will flow through the church and miracles will happen. (3) A changed world. When we as Christians get right with God, then the world around us will be changed. As God does a work in us, He will do a work through us. The greatest evangelism program of the church is discipleship. The more we grow in our faith, the more we are sanctified the greater witnesses we will become. So, as the church is sanctified, souls will be saved.
Look at 2 Chronicles 7:14. Are you sick and tired of the evil that is in our world? Are you tired of the way our nation has gone? Let me tell you something: it is not the politicians fault, it is not the schools fault, it is not Hollywood’s fault; it is our fault. Our nation has fallen away from God because the church has fallen into the world. Instead of becoming more like Jesus, we have become more like the world. What is the answer? We must pray and we must turn from our wicked ways. God sanctifies us as we consecrate ourselves to Him. The problem is that we have consecrated ourselves to the world. We have ignored the Word of God and we have made excuses for our sin and we have allowed ourselves to be filled with the world. In order for God to sanctify us. In order for God to make us clean. In order for God to do a work in us. We must humble ourselves before Him, confessing our sins, rid ourselves of worldliness, and allow Him to change us.
 Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Sanctification. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1898). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.