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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

The meaning of ἁγιασμός in the NT is in conflict with its etymological form. The word (as also the verb ἁγιάζω) etymologically suggests a process, a gradual advance in moral attainment, an ethical emphasis. In the NT generally, however, the word expresses a state, a position of religious attainment, a religious emphasis. To ‘sanctify’ is to ‘make holy,’ and the word ‘holy’ essentially implies a certain relationship to God (see articles Saint, Holiness). Perfection of moral character is a derivative but necessary result of holiness, and not, strictly speaking, holiness itself. The ‘saint’ develops a certain type of character in accordance with certain inward moral demands that are essential to the preservation of the ‘holy’ relation to God. In the NT this God is the God and Father of Jesus Christ. ἅγιος being ‘that which belongs to God,’ ‘sanctify’ means ‘to make to belong to God,’ ‘to dedicate’ to God. The precise kind of relationship between God and the object ‘sanctified’ is determined by the nature and situation of the object. Thus in Hebrews, where the religious problem is focused in the question of providing a valid worship for those debarred from the Temple services, the ‘people’ are ‘sanctified’ through the blood of Christ, and thereby enabled to become a ‘worshipping’ people, standing in the relation of ‘worshippers’ to God, inasmuch as the sacrifice of Jesus was offered ‘outside the gate,’ i.e. outside the sacred enclosure of the Holy City ( Hebrews 13:12). On the other hand, the barrier to the holy relationship may be a moral one, as in  1 Corinthians 6:9-11. It is the removal of this barrier of guilt, or alienation from God, through the death of Jesus, that is emphasized in the striking words, καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἧτε ἀλλὰ ἀπελούσασθε, ἀλλὰ ἡγιάσθητε, ἀλλὰ ἐδικαιώθητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν. ἀπελούσασθε refers to Christian baptism, as implying penitence and faith on the part of the worshipper. The conjunction of ἡγιάσθητε and ἐδικαιώθητε, and above all the order in which they are mentioned, show that in Christian experience no real distinction in time can be drawn between justification and sanctification (cf.  Hebrews 10:10, where ἡγιασμένοι clearly has affinity with Pauline justification). When the NT-St. Paul in particular-speaks of justification and sanctification, it really speaks of justified and sanctified men and women, and has little concern with the theological abstraction. Justification and sanctification are both ‘works of God’s free grace’ (Shorter Catechism, 1648). In both, God is the determining agent. The man who is ‘justified’ knows that God is not an enemy, but a friend. The ‘sanctified’ man knows also that he is now in a new relationship to God as son or child, and that in answer to the pardoning grace in justification a certain subjective attitude on his part must bring forth fruit in moral life. He must walk worthily of his vocation or standing before God. A good analogy with sanctification is patriotism, which is a social and political condition of individual life, in whose creation the individual has, strictly speaking, no part; which also carries with it certain practical duties that can be refused only at the cost of disloyalty to the State. Thus we are called on to ‘render unto God the things that are God’s,’ as to ‘Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’ In other words, just as we are born members of a certain family, and citizens of a particular State, so as Christians we are ‘born again’ in Christian baptism into an obedience to the rule or Kingdom of God, and a responsibility for all the corresponding social duties that ought to be maintained as between man and man. The Christian is ‘a new creation in Christ’ ( 2 Corinthians 5:17). He lives in a new world, where there stands out sharply a distinction between things permanent and things transient, things seen and things unseen; where a new moral valuation is at work; where the humblest and most despised individual claims a new, loving interest as one for whom Christ died. In the experience of ‘conversion’ or ‘regeneration,’ symbolized in Christian baptism, lies the root-idea of sanctification. The ‘saint’ belongs to God, and therefore thinks of things and men as God thinks of them. The determining agent in sanctification everywhere, both in experience and in the conduct that follows from it, is God, as revealed in the Cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is quite true that, as we shall see later, sanctification is not incompatible with moral effort and daily renewal; indeed it implies them ( 2 Corinthians 4:10,  Colossians 3:9 f.,  Ephesians 4:22 ff.). Yet in the act of sanctification, God has already exerted all His power, and the development of the Christian character is but the development of power already present in the individual ‘saint.’ God gives man a part in His own holiness, taking him out of the sphere of ungodliness, ‘the authority of darkness,’ and translating him into the sphere of His own purity, ‘the kingdom of the son of his love’ ( Colossians 1:13).

For the sake of convenience, the NT doctrine of sanctification may be treated under two aspects: (1) sanctification as a correlate of justification; (2) sanctification and the Christian ethic. It is to be noted that these are but two aspects of the doctrine. Essentially, and especially in the minds of the NT writers, they are the same. Neither the question of a non-ethical religion nor that of a non-religious ethic would have entered into the minds of NT writers, save to be set aside. Reconciliation to God and love to men, which constitute the perfected experience of sanctification, in the two directions of religion and practical conduct, are both regarded as issuing from the same source, viz. the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, and the human response to it of faith which worketh by love (διʼ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη,  Galatians 5:6). Sanctification on the human side is faith at work.

1. Sanctification as a correlate of justification. -Faith is a judgment of the whole personality that God means what He said and did in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is justification in the Pauline sense. Faith is also unswerving daily fidelity to such a judgment, to believe that God equally means us to become what we are when He raised Jesus from the dead. This ‘is the will of God, even your sanctification’ ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3). Justified by faith, we have peace with God. Our life is to be lived in the sphere of this gracious act of God; we are reconciled to God through the death of His Son, and, being reconciled, are saved by the life of Christ ( Romans 5:11). Too much stress cannot be laid on the fact that in the NT doctrines both of justification and of sanctification the relationship is between living persons, and not between moral forces that germinate in a dead past. The Christian message is a gospel from a living Christ to living men. It requires to be daily uttered, and daily received.

The experience of guilt enters into the conception both of sanctification and of justification. Justification includes the idea of the willingness of God to remove it, and of its actual removal in an objective sense. It is the faith that God has, at infinite cost to Himself, taken back His erring child to His heart. There is always, however, a certain barrier to a complete response to this gracious act of God. Justification must be experienced not only as a sense of sonship, but as an actual force at work in our lives. As such, it is sanctification. The sense of guilt is the result not only of a judgment of God, but of an answering judgment of man. Guilt may be a barrier not only to the faith that God can justify us, but also to the faith that He can effect any change in us. In the OT all sin was ultimately regarded as an offence against God ( Psalms 51:4), even when it meant only failure to comply with national custom, which was practically religion, associated as it was with Divine sanction. With the enrichment of the moral sense, the increasing moralization of the idea of God, and the growth of individual responsibility which culminated in the teaching of Jesus, guilt became in the NT that condition of heart and life produced by offences, conscious or unconscious, against the love of God. It is a burden which must be removed, a barrier to be broken down, if sanctification is to be realized in the individual experience, and man is to be at peace with God. All the NT writers are agreed in this, that they attribute the removal of guilt to the atoning death of Jesus, who is our ‘sanctification’ ( 1 Corinthians 1:30). They are agreed that the agent in sanctification is the Holy Spirit, but present certain differences in their application and statement of the doctrine.

(1) The Epistle to the Hebrews.-We may take the writer of this Epistle first, as his forms of thought have a closer connexion with the OT than either the Pauline or the Johannine. In Hebrews the ideas of purification, sanctification, and perfection (τελείωσις) are in close affinity to one another. Through the death of Christ the worshipper has the individual experiences of forgiveness, freedom from guilt, purification of conscience. Thus the ‘new and living way’ to God is open, and the believer’s will is bound to serve the living God ( Hebrews 10:22). While St. Paul develops his doctrine of sanctification in opposition on the one hand to antinomian teaching, and on the other to Jewish legalism, the doctrine of Hebrews is rather developed in opposition to a ritualistic spirit of dependence on the ancient rites of cleansing from sin. His readers have difficulty in emancipating themselves, in their condition of excommunication, from the local and ceremonial associations of the ancient worship which mingled with their former religious habits. It is the business of this writer to exhibit the ineffectiveness of the ancient sacrifices to take away sin. His God is ‘a consuming fire’ ( Hebrews 12:29); the word of God is ‘sharper than any two-edged sword,’ penetrating to the inmost recesses of the human conscience ( Hebrews 4:12). Such a far-reaching and comprehensive burden of guilt can be removed only through a perfect sacrifice, the sacrifice of Him who is both priest and victim. His death is the new and living way. He is the great High Priest who alone has passed ‘through the heavens,’ the tractless regions that intervene between man and God. He and His worshippers are united, through their faith, in the bond of perfect human sympathy. He sanctifies them, and presents them to God. The sanctifier and the sanctified are sons of the one Father ( Hebrews 2:11). The sacrifice of Jesus, therefore, in virtue of this essential unity, realized in the Incarnation, is effective for the purification of the human conscience, and in making men fit to stand in the presence of the Holy God. How the sacrifice of Jesus is thus effective does not enter into the mind of the writer. He simply applies the principle, accepted and experienced in the case of the OT sacrifices, to the death of Christ. For him, as for St. Paul, Jesus is alive in this particular relationship, in the midst of His Church, leader of their praise, prototype of their faith, united to them by ties of flesh and blood. According to the demands of the Old Covenant, the relationship with God implied in ‘holiness’ was restored by the blood of bulls and goats, but the demands of the New Covenant are infinitely more exacting. The sphere in which the new relationship of sanctity is realized is no longer the earthly tabernacle or temple, but a sphere in which the worship is spiritual, and the relationship real. The OT worship took place amid the ‘patterns’ of heavenly things. The NT worshipper is introduced to the ‘heavenly things themselves’ ( Hebrews 9:23 ff.). The Incarnate Son, by His eternal sacrifice, has lifted humanity into the very presence of God Himself; and in the white light of that environment, with all its moral demands, the Christian life must be lived. The thought is nearly akin to  John 4:24. We must pursue this holiness or sanctification (ἁγιασμός), without which no man shall see the Lord ( Hebrews 12:14). These words indicate the direct passage of the writer’s thought from the religious to the ethical, which will be dealt with later.

(2) The Pauline writings.-The doctrine of sanctification in St. Paul represents a somewhat earlier stage in apostolic thought. Both in St. Paul and in Hebrews the death of Jesus is that which establishes the new relationship between God and man ( Ephesians 2:13-14). The unsanctified man is in a state of enmity towards God, and sanctification means peace with God. The mind of St. Paul always tends to isolate the Cross as an act of redemption. Both Hebrews and St. Paul teach that God sent His pre-existent Son in the flesh ( Romans 8:3,  Hebrews 10:5), but in St. Paul the Incarnation took place in order that on the Cross a curse might be pronounced upon sin. In both, Jesus is our representative, but in St. Paul He is regarded as dying the death that we deserved to die. Sin exhausted its power in His crucifixion, and was set aside as a beaten enemy in the supreme demonstration of the power of God in the resurrection of Jesus. God ‘highly exalted’ Him, and raised Him to His right hand. The epithet ‘Lord’ (κύριος) is Paul’s most characteristic description of the Risen Jesus. It carries with it the notion of authority rather than of sympathy, although the latter is by no means absent. The barrier of guilt is constituted for Paul by inability to keep the law of God, understood as a moral demand quite as penetrating and comprehensive as in Hebrews. This moral inability presupposes a certain ‘law’ warring in his members against the ‘law’ of God. If we substitute ‘authority’ for ‘law’ in St. Paul, much of the difficulty constituted by his apparently ambiguous use of the term νόμος disappears. Through the death of Jesus Paul is delivered from the ‘authority’ of sin, which is broken, and is made subject to the ‘constraint’ or ‘authority’ of the love of God manifested in Jesus Christ, the Κύριος. The acceptance by faith of this ‘authority’ of Jesus Christ, in response to His grace and love, is the condition of being ‘in Christ,’ which is the characteristic Pauline phrase for the state of sanctification. It is a relationship to God of ‘sonship,’ of perfect freedom. ‘The authority of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the authority of sin and of death’ ( Romans 8:2). The Spirit that sanctifies is shed abroad in our hearts, and we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ This authority that so speaks in Jesus Christ is the authority and the power of the Creator. Even Nature shall yet be on our side.  Romans 8:19 ff is not mere poetry. It is the utterance of a heart that looks out on a world both of men and of things that is in its misery far from God, and can yet see in it all the birth-pangs of a new creation ( Romans 8:20-21). Amid the worst that men or things can accomplish, it is impossible to annul God’s loving choice of the believer in Christ Jesus ( Romans 8:35-39).

(3) The Johannine writings.-Much of the relevant matter in this connexion falls more properly to be treated under the articleHoly Spirit. Here, however, it may be pointed out that the Johannine conception of sanctification has a strong affinity with the thought of Hebrews. In  John 10:36 Jesus in His earthly life is said to be sanctified by the Father, i.e. set apart for the holy purpose of the redemption of men, and in  John 17:19 Jesus sanctifies Himself in death for the sake of His disciples, who are also ‘sanctified in the truth’ by virtue of their abiding ‘in Him.’ As in Hebrews, the unity of Jesus and His disciples (not His immediate followers only) is a corollary of the Incarnation, but the bond is not conceived of in terms of human sympathy so much as in a certain semi-physical sense, due no doubt to the atmosphere of Hellenistic thought that surrounds the Johannine writings. The self-sanctification or consecration of Jesus, however, in  John 17:19 is the same as in  Hebrews 10:10. He is both Priest and Victim. In the OT when God ‘sanctifies’ Himself or His ‘great name’ ( Ezekiel 36:23) it is equivalent to a display of His saving power on behalf of Israel as against their enemies. In Johannine thought the Cross is the supreme manifestation not only of Divine love, but of Divine power ( John 12:31-32). The Risen and Crucified Jesus ‘draws all men unto himself.’ This is really the same as to ‘sanctify’ them. In accordance also with Johannine thought, sometimes the Spirit, the alter ego of Jesus, sometimes the Glorified Jesus, is the sanctifying agent. In experience both are the same; Jesus is our Life. Believers abide in Him. They carry within them a χρίσμα ( 1 John 2:20) or σπέρμα ( 1 John 3:9). What in St. Paul is called ‘adoption’ corresponds in St. John to ‘sanctification’ ( 1 John 3:1). The work of the Spirit is to beget ‘sons (τέκνα) of God.’

2. Sanctification and the Christian ethic. -It is extremely important that the NT teaching on the previous aspect of sanctification should be emphasized, in order that the inalienable connexion between the Christian religion and Christian morality should be preserved. In other words, the NT teaches everywhere that what a man believes has an all-determining effect on what he is and what he does. Every act of faith is in the NT an ethical force. The passages which contain ethical precepts (including the Sermon on the Mount) cannot be understood apart from the doctrinal teaching. All is ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν. ‘This is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith’ ( 1 John 5:4).

Is there, then, such a thing as progressive sanctification? Strictly speaking, the word ἁγιασμός, as we have seen, contains no such idea. It expresses a state of holiness, not a process of becoming holy. Any other interpretation would negative the NT idea of holiness itself. The primitive idea of holiness, indeed, still persists. The NT has deepened and moralized it, but has rejected decisively one aspect of it, viz. that there can be degrees or grades of holiness from the Divine point of view. The savage may take liberties with a certain tree or other natural object, and finds to his cost that he has unwittingly violated a holy place. He has interfered with the property of the god, and is taught by the consequences that a certain attitude and conduct are necessary if he is to continue to live in safety and security. The god has decreed, ‘Certain things are mine,’ and there are degrees by which one thing, place, or person is holier than another, with corresponding grades of penalties. In the NT things and places are seldom called holy except in a traditional sense. Only persons are holy, and no man has the right to say to another, ‘Stand thou on one side, for I am holier than thou.’ An equal degree of guilt belongs to every violation of what is God’s. ‘If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy … which temple ye are’ ( 1 Corinthians 3:17). On the one hand, through the influence of the prophets, first the nation and then the individual (as in Jeremiah) are regarded as ‘holy’ in the eyes of Jahweh, who, unlike other gods, has more than a mere proprietary interest in ‘His own.’ On the other hand, through the influence of the priestly caste, Jahweh’s service became more and more a matter of correct ritual and observance of certain rules, and the result is a Holy God afar off whose name dare not be mentioned, and who lives in a state of moral neutrality. The incarnation of Jesus Christ realized in perfection the prophetic teaching, and for ever made men aware that God is the Father, whose holiness is also love, and who reasserts His claim on each individual soul by an act of redemption. ‘We are bought with a price.’ NT ‘holiness’ is therefore a state of belonging to God, which depends not on a mere Divine fiat, but upon an act of salvation at the greatest possible cost to the Father. What God has once hallowed is always holy. We are holy by Divine choice, and there can be no degrees either in the Divine offer or in the human acceptance of salvation.

This condition, therefore, of absolute holiness demands on our part both faith and conduct. A certain ‘walk’ is demanded of us, if we are to maintain and affirm the new friendship with God. ‘Our citizenship is in heaven’ ( Philippians 3:20), or, as Moffatt translates it, ‘we are a colony of heaven’ (The NT: a New Translation3, London, 1914), with all the obligations of loyalty and sacrifice that the mother-country lays upon us. In the NT the mother-country is just the Father’s heart and the Father’s presence. Our moral progress is not a growth into holiness out of a state of comparative unholiness. That would be to negative the Christian gospel. Rather it is a growth in holiness. The act that makes us holy is done once and for all.

On the ethical side, sanctification reveals itself chiefly as the basis of moral freedom. Freedom, creativeness, originality are the marks of the moral teaching of Jesus, and they are the marks of all true imitatio Christi. The Japanese artist, Yoshio Markino, has the following sentences: ‘Don’t imitate my articleDon’t watch my hand or brush. Only feel what I am feeling. Communicate your spirits to the nature and find out everything yourselves. Judge your art with your own eyes, and judge your music with your ears’ (When I was a Child, London, 1912, p. 253). The expression is at times quaint, but the words are not only true in art, but supremely true of Christian ethics. Growth in holiness in the NT sense is to be free from all merely legal compulsion and to know only one constraint, the love of Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:14 ff.). We live no longer unto ourselves, or under the Law, but unto Him who for our sakes died and rose again. We have not even yet fully realized the extraordinary daring of the conception of Christian freedom developed by St. Paul, largely as the result of his own experience of a legalistic morality. There is not a word in the recorded teaching of Jesus that can be construed into the position that the Mosaic Law was temporary. Yet this may be said to be the pivot of St. Paul’s whole position. The liberty where-with Christ has made us free is not only a religious but an ethical liberty, not merely the removal of guilt but the setting free of the will. Only one who knew what sanctification is could have been bold enough to preach it. It is neither more nor less than the doctrine that all legal statutes are out of place in the Christian life. Our norm is neither the teaching nor the example of Jesus by themselves, but the experience of His work, and of His risen life. We have as much right to examine the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount under the illumination of the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier as any of the ethical passages in St. Paul or St. John. The extent of our obedience to them is determined not by the statutory form of the precepts themselves, but by communion with the living mind of Him who uttered them. Nor is this illumination a mere isolated inner light. It springs from the communion of ‘saints,’ a word always used in the plural in the NT (see articleSaint). Christ in us, and dwelling in His Church by His Holy Spirit, has a right to be His own commentator and interpreter. To the sanctified man, who understands that the God who will not let him go is Love and Holiness and Justice, either precepts or principles by themselves, no matter from what source, are as flowers broken off at the root. ‘Precepts wither if they are alone,’ says even Seneca (Ep. xcv. 59).

This is dangerous doctrine, but all great doctrines are dangerous. Freewill, by the teaching of Scripture itself, was a very dangerous experiment. It is not surprising that St. Paul’s principle of freedom should not only have occasioned abuse, but also excited grave doubts in the minds of those who were morally in earnest. The existence of abuse is suggested in the question, ‘Shall we sin that grace may abound?’; but, in the fact that the question is a quotation, it is equally suggested that he had to develop his doctrine of sanctification, as he does in Romans 6, also in opposition to those who were seriously concerned about the interests of morality. It is impossible to escape the feeling that the return of the Galatians to the observance of days, months, seasons, years, and to the moral precepts involved in it, was really for safety, and as a result of moral earnestness. They might have said, equally with Festus, ‘Paul, thou art mad.’

If, then, the Pauline doctrine of sanctification is developed in opposition both to the morally lax and to the morally earnest, it is of deep interest to note the lines of his answer. It is typical of the NT ethic generally. He deals with the subject more than once-Romans 6 is perhaps the fullest answer he gives.

(1) He refuses to think in terms of abstractions or mere forces. His opponents were talking of ‘sin’ and ‘grace’ as though they were impersonal principles. To him, ‘sin’ is a personal power, the arch-demon; ‘grace’ is the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He reminds them that they are baptized ‘into Christ Jesus’ ( Romans 6:3); with Him they died, and with Him they rise again. ‘If we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him’ ( Romans 6:8). ‘Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus’ ( Romans 6:11). In short, the ethical motive is an enriched and reinforced form of noblesse oblige. The noblesse is not only a state of ennoblement that carries with it duties, but One to whom we stand in deepest indebtedness for pardon and life, in whose fellowship we are raised to high rank and high responsibility. We sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. Sin against grace is now the sin of those who have been adopted into the family of God. Our motive is a sense not only of honour, but above all of gratitude. The old bad habit of obedience to sin persists, but not in that direction urges our loyalty. Sanctification means the growth of grateful loyalty to Christ. We die to sin, and live to Christ. Forgiveness is needed and sought for unwilling obedience to an evil power that has now no dominion or authority over us. And at this point we may glance at the attitude of St. Paul to the Law. At one moment he seems utterly to depreciate it, at another he says that the Law is good, and holy, and righteous. It is an illustration of his idea of progress in sanctification. Obedience to law is good for those to whom God says only ‘Thou shalt’ or ‘Thou shalt not’; for ‘law’ to St. Paul is not what we would understand by ‘natural’ or ‘spiritual order’ of things. He can speak of the law of sin and the law of death, as well as of the law of God. ‘Law’ is God speaking in an authoritative voice, and while his use of it is not confined to the Mosaic Law, yet he regards the Mosaic Law as the most definite embodiment of the Divine authority. For the Christian, for those that are ‘sanctified,’ the ‘law’ of sin and death is done away altogether, and obedience to the law of God is merged in a higher and nobler loyalty to the God and Father of Jesus Christ, and above all in a sense of supreme indebtedness. We are ‘servants’ of God, but our reward cannot be called ‘wages.’ It is a ‘free gift’ ( Romans 6:23). The progress is in the idea of God.

(2) St. Paul everywhere recognizes the need of strenuous moral effort on our part. In this regard, he is not alone among the NT writers. We find it equally in the Epistle to the Hebrews: ‘Follow (pursue) peace with all men, and holiness (ἁγιασμός), without which no man shall see the Lord’ ( Hebrews 12:14). ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’ ( Philippians 2:12). In what does the effort primarily consist? It is in what might be called a persistent daily reaffirmation of the act of consecration: ‘Present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification’ ( Romans 6:19). Here again we shall misunderstand the meaning of εἰς ἁγιασμόν unless we remember that St. Paul is not really expressing his thought in abstract nouns like ‘righteousness,’ ‘sanctification.’ These are really personifications, like ‘sin’ or ‘lawlessness.’ ‘Sanctification’ here is really the timeless act of God, which is gradually realized in time. There is a moment, as we shall see later, when we are ‘wholly’ sanctified, when God has been able to work His complete will in us, and to this end (εἰς ἁγιασμόν) we must co-operate by renewed acts of consecration. The ritualistic idea is still in the background. In the OT, as the idea of sacrifice became spiritualized, ‘the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ and in the NT God is satisfied with no less than a constant and persistent offering of the whole personality-the σῶμα including the life-principle. ‘Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service’ (λογικὴ λατρεία,  Romans 12:1; cf. R. Reitzenstein, Die hellenistischen Mysterienreligionen, Berlin, 1910, pp. 24, 91, 155).

Human co-operation, then, in the work of sanctification is strongly emphasized, if ‘the fruits of the Spirit’ are to be brought forth in human character. It is no doubt to St. Paul that we first owe the idea that the Holy Spirit is the factor not only in the Christian as a member of the community (a saint among saints), but in the individual Christian in his daily thought and life. We are exhorted to ‘walk by the Spirit’ ( Galatians 5:16). It has often been shown that St. Paul rescued the conception of ‘spiritual gifts’ as confined to extraordinary manifestations such as took place at Pentecost, or are associated with ordinary meetings for worship in the Apostolic Church, and enabled these gifts to include the ethical requirements of daily life (1 Corinthians 12-14). 1 Corinthians 13 is not merely a song in praise of love; it is a landmark in the history of the Christian ethic. The Spirit is a gift not only of emotion, but of motion, and furnishes the driving power for the ministry which includes all other ministries, the ministry of love. It is, in Bengel’s phrase, ‘via maxime vialis,’ a way that all may tread, in which even men incapable by temperament of great emotional disturbance may walk secure (cf. Denney, The Way Everlasting, London, 1911, p. 152 ff.). ‘It shall be called The way of holiness; … the way-faring men, yea fools, shall not err therein’ ( Isaiah 35:8).

This ethical reference of the work of the Spirit is emphasized equally in nearly all the NT writers. We need mention only passages like  Hebrews 12:10, where suffering is regarded as a Divine discipline, and intended to issue in participation in the Divine holiness:  1 Peter 1:15 f., ‘Ye shall be holy; for I am holy’;  2 Peter 1:4 ff.; and especially v. 9, where ethical failure is said to be due to ‘short-sightedness,’ imperfect vision of the ‘cleansing from old sins.’ In  Revelation 22:11, ὁ ἅγιος ἁγιασθήτω ἔτι should probably be translated ‘Let the saint still act as a saint’ on the analogy of the preceding clauses.

(3) In the NT sanctification is not equivalent to moral perfection. ‘Holy and blameless’ (ἄμωμος) is an expression St. Paul uses elsewhere ( Ephesians 1:4;  Ephesians 5:27,  Colossians 1:22). He also speaks in  1 Thessalonians 5:23 of his readers being ‘sanctified wholly.’ It is evident that ‘blamelessness’ is not regarded as equivalent to holiness, and it is also noticeable that in the Thessalonians passage this condition of complete sanctification ensues at the Parousia (cf.  1 Thessalonians 3:13). No doubt the controversy as to ‘progressive sanctification’ would have seemed to St. Paul unreal. We fall into the habit, of necessity, of drawing distinctions which never occurred to the NT writers. It is easily seen that there was no real place for the idea of moral progress in our sense of the word, so long as the Parousia was regarded as imminent. There can be little doubt, however, that the end became for him less near as time went on, and the idea of sanctification became more and more associated with moral progress, as a fruit of the Spirit’s continuous working. The Risen Christ, whom one day he hopes to see face to face, manifests Himself more and more as a present spiritual power in the man himself. The mind removes Him to a farther distance, but the heart draws Him nearer. ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ ( Colossians 1:27) breathes the sense of moral imperfection, and at the same time the sense that ‘Christ … carries the man who clings to Him in faith through all the great crises which came to Him, on the path of His perfecting’ (H. A. A. Kennedy, Expositor’s Greek Testament, ‘Philippians,’ London, 1903, p. 455b. See also the exposition of  Philippians 3:8 ff by R. Rainy, Expositor’s Bible, ‘Philippians,’ 1893, pp. 199-256). More and more, as St. Paul’s experience deepens, the work of the Spirit in sanctification is identified with the work of the Risen Christ. The sense of present fellowship with Him becomes more real, and has its corresponding ethical effect. ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit’ ( 2 Corinthians 3:17-18). There are certain exegetical difficulties connected with this passage which cannot be dealt with here. The Authorized Versionrendering ‘beholding as in a mirror’ has been adopted, as best suiting the thought. ‘Glory’ is just that type of character and life which is fully manifested in Jesus, risen and reigning, and St. Paul’s present communion with the Saviour is the source of a daily moral progress. The thought is much the same as in  1 John 3:1-3. This cannot fairly, either in St. John or in St. Paul, be called mysticism. The ‘beholding’ is not immediate, but ‘as in a mirror,’ which, however obscure as an image, at least indicates a medium of communion, probably the Christian Church; and St. John speaks of a ‘hope’ which purifies, and of a moment yet to be realized when ‘we shall see him as he is.’ The Hellenic idea of metamorphosis is clearly present, but to what extent it colours St. Paul’s thought is disputable. The idea that the risen body of Jesus is a kind of semi-physical light substance which mingles with ours in this communion is certainly not present in Paul’s thought, notwithstanding that he may have robbed Hellenic mysticism of a word (μεταμορφούμεθα; cf. P. Kölbing, Die geistige Einwirkung der Person Jesu auf Paulus, Göttingen, 1906, p. 104 f.). The conception is, in any case, that progress is from within outwards ( Romans 12:2,  Ephesians 4:23), and the forces that prevent the influx of the new life are broken and overcome one by one ( Romans 8:13,  1 Thessalonians 3:10;  1 Thessalonians 4:1,  2 Corinthians 9:10; 2Co_10:15,  Philippians 1:9;  Philippians 1:25,  Colossians 1:10-11).

Literature.-Besides the works mentioned in the art see Literature under Saint; J. Denney, Expositor’s Greek Testament, ‘Romans,’ London, 1900 (esp. chs. 6-8); Sanday-Headlam, International Critical Commentary, ‘Romans’5, Edinburgh, 1902; J. A. Beet, Holiness, London, 1880; see also J. Vernon Bartlet, article‘Sanctification,’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols), and the Literature there appended.

R. H. Strachan.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2]

The generic meaning of sanctification is "the state of proper functioning." To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. A pen is "sanctified" when used to write. Eyeglasses are "sanctified" when used to improve sight. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A human being is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God's design and purpose.

The Greek word translated "sanctification" ( hagiasmos [   Isaiah 6:3 ). God is separate, distinct, other. No human being or thing shares the holiness of God's essential nature. There is one God. Yet Scripture speaks about holy things. Moreover, God calls human beings to be holy—as holy as he is holy ( Leviticus 11:44;  Matthew 5:48;  1 Peter 1:15-16 ). Another word for a holy person is "saint" ( hagios [   Leviticus 10:10 ).

From time to time human beings are commanded to sanctify themselves. For example, God commanded the nation of Israel, "consecrate to me every firstborn male" ( Exodus 13:2 ). God said through Peter, "in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord" ( 1 Peter 3:15 ). One sanctifies Christ by responding to unbelievers meaningfully, out of a good conscience and faithful life. God calls his own to set themselves apart for that which he has set them apart. Sanctify, therefore, becomes a synonym for "trust and obey" ( Isaiah 29:23 ). Another name for this action is "consecration." To fail to sanctify God has serious consequences ( Numbers 20:12 ).

Human beings ultimately cannot sanctify themselves. The Triune God sanctifies. The Father sanctifies ( 1 Corinthians 1:30 ) by the Spirit ( 2 Thessalonians 2:13;  1 Peter 1:2 ) and in the name of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 6:11 ). Yet Christian faith is not merely passive. Paul calls for active trust and obedience when he says, "Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" ( 2 Corinthians 7:1 ). No one may presume on God's grace in sanctification. Peter reminds believers to be diligent in making their calling and election sure ( 2 Peter 1:10 ).

A person or thing can be sanctified in two waysaccording to God's creative purpose or according to God's redemptive design. All sanctified in the first sense are used by God in the second sense. Not all God uses in the second sense are sanctified in the first sense.

Sanctification According to God's Creative Design . God created the universe and human beings perfect (i.e., sanctified). Everything and everyone functioned flawlessly until Adam and Eve believed Satan's lie. The fall plunged the human race and the universe into a state of dysfunction ( Genesis 3:14-19 ). Neither was so distorted by the fall so as to obliterate God's original purpose and design completely. Fallen human beings still bear God's image ( James 3:9-10 ). Fallen creation still witnesses to God's existence and attributes ( Psalm 19:1-6;  Romans 1:20 ). Yet both, depending on the analogy employed, are skewed, broken, fallen, dysfunctional, "unsanctified."

The imperfect state of creation is a reminder that God's fully sanctified purpose for it has been disrupted by sin. Evil is the deprivation of the good that God intends for the creation he has designed. The creation groans, awaiting its sanctification when everything will be set right ( Romans 8:21-22;  Revelation 20-21 ).

Human beings, made in God's image, were the pinnacle and focus of his creation. The sanctification of human beings, therefore, is the highest goal of God's work in the universe. God explicitly declared it to be his will ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3 ). He purposed that human beings be "like him" in a way no other created thing is. Human beings are like God in their stewardship over creation ( Genesis 1:26-31 ). Yet this role is dependent on a more fundamentally important likeness to Godmoral character. By virtue of God-given discretionary autonomy ( faith ), human beings may so depend upon God that his moral character (communicable attributes) are displayed.

The unsanctified state of fallen humanity is not caused merely by lack of effort or poor motivation. It constitutes an inherent structural flaw. When Adam sinned, he and his race forfeited that which made it possible for them to function as designedthe presence of God himself. Adam and Eve's prefallen sanctification was not a result of their inherent capabilities. God's indwelling presence was responsible for the manifestation of his attributes in them. Sanctification always requires God's presence. His presence is more than his "being there"a corollary of his omnipresence. It is his dynamic presence, producing fruit for which he alone is the source. "Indwelling" is not God's way of getting close to us sensually. It is a theological, rather than experiential, reality; it is "experienced" by faith, not by feeling.

Human beings "fall short of God's glory" ( Romans 3:23 ) because they lack God's presence, which produces glory. "Glory" is always the manifestation of the attributes of God resulting from the presence of God. God's presence was the essential missing factor in Adam and Eve's postfall state. God called out to the fleeing man, "Where are you?" ( Genesis 3:9 ). God was not seeking information. He was clarifying to sinful humanity that his presence was now lost.

God sought Adam and Eve, indicating that restoration of the original purpose would be undertaken by him. Sanctification, therefore, is exclusively the work of God in grace ( Leviticus 21:8;  Ezekiel 20:12;  Hebrews 2:11;  Jude 1 ). Functioning moral likeness to God, lost in the fall, is restored through God's redemption in Christ ( Ephesians 4:23-24;  Colossians 3:9-10 ). Human beings are "made holy" through Christ's work. The blood of Jesus Christ sanctifies ( Hebrews 13:12 ) because his substitutionary atonement reversed all of the dysfunctional, as well as legal (i.e., guilt), effects of sin. Human beings are progressively sanctified now through faith in Christ and by the indwelling Spirit ( 2 Corinthians 3:18 ), while awaiting full sanctification at the resurrection. Believers under both the old and new covenants are sanctified the same wayby grace through faith.

Sanctification According to God's Redemptive Purposes . In addition to designing the goal of creation (functioning human beings in a fittingly perfect environment), God has also designed the means of achieving that goal. He not only wants to make the universe, especially human beings, sanctified. He also uses sanctified (set-apart) means to accomplish his end.

God calls specific people at specific times to be sanctified for a particular role in his redemptive program. God uses all people for his purposes, even those who defy him ( Romans 9:21-22 ). For example, God used Pharaoh even though he did not let Israel go ( Romans 9:17 ). God also used Cyrus, a pagan ruler, to discipline Israel ( Isaiah 45:1 ). The Scripture, however, is largely the story of how God wants to use willing "vessels." He set apart some to be kings, priests, and prophets. God sanctified Jeremiah even before birth for his prophetic ministry ( Jeremiah 1:5 ). The Holy Spirit "set apart" Paul and Barnabas for missionary service from among the gathered church ( Acts 13:2 ). Every believer has a "calling" or "vocation" based on "gifting." Just as each Israelite had a role in the corporate life under the old covenant, so the church functions by the ministry of gifted and called individuals. Each one has a gift. The prominence of ministry will vary from person to person. Yet each sanctifies his or her calling through faithfulness.

It is possible, to one's peril, to confuse God's calling to "be redeemed" and God's calling to "be a redemptive agent." The former is a prerequisite for the latter. The latter cannot substitute for the former. Many Israelites were unsanctified personally because they presumed that their calling to be a redemptive nation guaranteed God's sanctifying grace. They disregarded God's Word, lacked faith in God ( Hebrews 4:2 ), and became proud of their achievements. Jesus spoke his harshest words against the unsanctified Pharisees ( Matthew 23 ). God judged Israel as a nation by setting them aside as God's channel of blessing for the world ( Matthew 21:43 )this but for a time. God is determined to fulfill all of his promises to his redemptive channel ( Romans 11:25-29 ). God used Israel, nevertheless, as a disobedient people. From a remnant within ethnic Israel, God built his church. Paul confronted an oft-posed question, "How can an elect [i.e., sanctified] nation be lost?" ( Romans 9-11 ). He reminded his Jewish audience that when God elected Israel to be a redemptive agent ( Genesis 12:1-3 ), he did not guarantee redemption for every Israelite. Paul also warned non-Israelite believers, likewise blessed as redemptive agents (the church), not to confuse privilege with standing when he said, "Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches [Israel], he will not spare you either" ( Romans 11:20b-21 ).

Jesus Christ: The Sanctifier and Model of Sanctification . The singular means of God's sanctifying grace is Jesus Christ: "We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" ( Hebrews 10:10 ). Christ was qualified to sanctify because he himself had been sanctified through suffering ( Hebrews 2:10-11 ). First, Jesus Christ was the only human being since the fall to live a continuously, perfectly sanctified life. He was without sin, therefore, without guilt or dysfunctionality. He was sanctified from the moment of his conception ( Matthew 1:18-20;  Luke 1:35 ). He was rightly called the "Holy One of God" ( Mark 1:24 ), sanctified by the Father ( John 10:36 ). In his character, therefore, Jesus Christ was morally sanctified. Second, he was vocationally sanctified. Christ did what the Father called him to do ( John 5:19,30 ,  36;  6:38;  8:28-29;  12:49 ). He accomplished his vocational purpose through time, yet he continually fulfilled his moral purpose. He sanctified himself by fulfilling his unique calling as the Messiah ( John 17:19 ), being declared the Son of God at his resurrection ( Romans 1:4 ). Jesus Christ, therefore, is the model human being for both moral and vocational sanctification ( Philippians 2:5-11 ).

Just as all forgiveness of sin was provisional until the ministry of the Messiah was complete, so all sanctification was provisional ( Hebrews 9:13-14;  10:10-12 ). The incarnation was an indispensable means for sanctifying humanity because it was necessary that the sanctifier be from within humanity ( Hebrews 2:11 ). Christ's sacrificial offering of himself to God achieved comprehensive sanctification for all people ( Hebrews 10:10,14 ,  29;  13:12 ). In addition, the return of Christ will mark the beginning of remade heaven and earth ( 2 Peter 3:10-13 ).

Anything that prefigured the work of Christ was holy in a redemptive sense. Something need not be inherently holy to serve a sanctifying purpose. Though God instructed his people to choose animals for sacrifice that were "without spot, " this was technically impossible. Only the unblemished Lamb of God was qualified to sanctify the world. Nevertheless, the lambs, bulls, and goats used in the ceremonial sacrifices in the Old Testament were sanctified because they anticipated the one sacrifice for sins forever. Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament offices of prophet, priest, and king. Yet many of these are not numbered among God's faithful. Everything is rendered holy by its proper use. The New Testament emphasis is that everything can be sanctified in a redemptive sense. When the believer glorifies God by thanking God for everything ( 1 Corinthians 10:31;  1 Thessalonians 5:18 ), the believer thereby sanctifies everything. Nothing that God has created is unclean in itself. Its misuse renders it unclean.

God has ordained specific means, however, by which the church sets Christ apart. For example, participation in the new covenant "Table of the Lord" sanctifies the believer. Apart from what Christ has done, the exercise of eating bread and drinking wine would be common. God sanctifies a believer through his or her faithful remembrance of Christ's redemptive work according to the command of the Lord. People may so profane the Lord's Supper so as to receive judgment prematurely from God ( 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 ).

Worship under the old covenant foreshadowed Christ. Israel was ever conscious of the "sanctuary" ( hagion [   Malachi 2:11 ). During Israel's captivities, the people were separated from the sanctuary and, hence, alienated from the assurance of God's saving blessings. It was the geographical and spiritual center of the nation's life.

The material used for the earthly sanctuary was made "holy" by virtue of its use. God stipulated strict standards for the sanctuary's construction ( Exodus 25-40 ) and operation (Leviticus). Everything to do with the tabernacle and temple was holy: garments ( Exodus 28:2 ), anointing oil ( Exodus 30:25 ), crown ( Exodus 39:30 ), linen tunic ( Leviticus 16:4 ), convocation of the people ( Leviticus 23:2 ), water ( Numbers 5:17 ), vessels ( Numbers 31:6 ), utensils ( 1 Kings 8:4 ), ark ( 2 Chronicles 35:3 ), day ( Nehemiah 8:11 ), and place ( Exodus 28:29;  1 Kings 6:16 ). The items and procedures had typological significance. Although every typological feature cannot be established with absolute precision, Scripture indicates that the tabernacle and temple, including its priestly service, foreshadowed Christ ( Hebrews 8:5;  9:23 ).

The old covenant sanctuaries were merely provisional. Only Christ could take away sin, "perfecting for all time those who are being sanctified" ( Hebrews 10:14 , marginal reading ). The Hebrew writer contrasts the earthly sanctuary of Israel with the heavenly sanctuary. It was the latter that Christ entered and opened for all who come to God through him ( Hebrews 8:1-6;  9:23-26;  10:19-22 ).

Old and new covenants are linked by Christ. For example, the Sabbath and other designated days were to be kept "holy" ( Genesis 2:3;  Exodus 20:11;  Numbers 29:1 ). Christ is the Sabbath rest for believers ( Hebrews 4:1-11 ). Because of the sanctifying ministry of Christ, each day may be lived equally to the glory of God. Even in cases when believers differ in this matter, Paul urges all to live each day for the Lord ( Romans 14:5-12 ) for he is the "substance" ( Colossians 2:16-17 ). God's name is to be sanctified ( Psalm 103:1;  Isaiah 29:23 ). We sanctify God's name when we worship him properly. Christians are "sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy" ( 1 Corinthians 1:2 ). Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father hallowed [sanctified] be your name" ( Matthew 6:9 ). Praying in Jesus' name sanctifies our prayers ( John 15:16 ).

Key Concepts. God's usual modus operandi is to sanctify common things for his redemptive purposes, rather than to employ perfect heavenly things ( 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ). He sanctified common coats of skin to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness ( Genesis 3:21 ). He sanctified a common man, Abram of Ur, in order to make a great nation ( Genesis 12:1-7 ). He sanctified a common bush in the Sinai desert from which to commission a man to lead Israel out of bondage. Moses stood on "holy ground" ( Exodus 3:5 ), on a "holy mountain" ( Ezekiel 28:14 ). God made Jerusalem a "holy city" ( Nehemiah 11:1;  Isaiah 48:2 ). In dramatic fashion, God sanctified the common womb of a common virgin girl by which to incarnate his Son. God's presence was with her ( Luke 1:28 ). Jesus sanctified the world by his presence, "tabernacling" with us ( John 1:14 ). God's method is grace. He alone is to be credited.

God's law is holy ( Romans 7:12 ). Christ sanctified God's Law by fulfilling it ( Matthew 5:17 ). That means Christ fulfilled the ceremonial purpose of the Law by being the antitype of all that it prefigured, and fulfilled the moral demands of the Law by living perfectly according to its standards. The "law of Christ" ( Galatians 6:2 ) is synonymous with the moral demands God places on all humanity. We sanctify God's Law by obeying it. Obedience is not contrary to faith. It is not works-sanctification. Biblical faith is a faith that works ( James 2 ). The New Testament is full of commands, imperativeslaws. God is pleased when the believer does "good works, " for he designed them from the beginning ( Ephesians 2:10 ).

It is understandable why some downplay or even deny any present usefulness of "law" in the sanctification of believers. They appeal to such verses as, "you are not under law, but under grace" ( Romans 6:14 b). They are right that "law" is not the dynamic that sanctifies ( Hebrews 7:18-19 ). But the Law was never given for that purpose ( Galatians 3:21 ). Its purpose for unbelievers is to show them how far from the original design they have come. It has an evangelistic purpose ( Galatians 3:24 ). Its purpose for believers, however, is to guide them to where grace is leading them. The old covenant anticipated a fuller application of the Law. God said to Old Testament Israel that he would inaugurate a new covenant in which he would put his Law within them, and write it on their hearts ( Jeremiah 31:33;  Hebrews 8:10; see  Ezekiel 36:27 ). Jesus reiterated, however, the continuing sanctifying function of the moral law, which can never be superseded ( Matthew 5:17-20 ).

Legalism threatens sanctification by distorting the biblical teaching about the Law to the opposite extreme. In short, legalism is substituting law for grace, achievement for faith. The Pharisees followed the Law, having first tinkered with its meaning and application. Yet they would not come to Christ ( John 5:39 ). The Judaizers followed after Paul, preaching a pregospel "gospel" of legalism. Paul flatly condemned it ( Galatians 1:6-9;  2:16;  3:11 ). It is legalism when one obeys in order to glorify self before God or others ( John 5:44 ). Similarly, insisting that forgiveness from unremitted guilt requires more "work" or "penance" from the supplicant is legalism masquerading as humility.

Sanctification is applied justification . By its very nature justification does not have a progressive character. It is God's declaration of righteousness. The focus of justification is the removal of the guilt of sin. The focus of sanctification is the healing of the dysfunctionality of sin. Since all spiritual blessings, justification and sanctification included, are the Christian's the moment he or she is "in Christ" ( Ephesians 1:3 ), sanctification is total and final in one sense ( Acts 20:32;  26:18;  1 Corinthians 6:11 ). Yet, unlike justification, sanctification also continues until it will be consummated when Jesus Christ returns. For then we will be like him ( 1 John 3:2 )perfect and complete. Sanctification, therefore, has an initial, progressive, and final phase. A believer's present preoccupation is with progressive sanctification ( 2 Corinthians 3:18 , note the present continuous tense, "are being transformed" ), by which the child of God lives out the implications of initial sanctification with an eye to the goal of final sanctification. The sanctified life is victorious ( Romans 8:37 ), though it is lived out in the context of temptation and suffering. God promises the "overcomers" in  Revelation 2,3 to restore all that was lost in the fall (2:7,11, 17,26; 3:5,12). In sanctification, the believer is simply applying the implications of his or her justification.

The Holy Spirit is the dynamic of sanctification . Jesus said that he had to go away so that the Holy Spirit would indwell believers ( John 14:16-20 ). The "Holy" Spirit is so named not because he is more holy than the Father and the Son, but because his specific ministry vis--vis salvation is sanctification ( Romans 15:16;  1 Thessalonians 4:3-4;  2 Thessalonians 2:13;  1 Peter 1:2 ). The Spirit that inspired the Word of God now uses it to sanctify. Jesus, therefore, prayed concerning his own, "Sanctify them by the truth" ( John 17:17 ). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth ( John 16:13 ). The blessing of the new covenant is the presence of the Spirit ( Ezekiel 36:27;  Galatians 3:14 ).

The Holy Spirit not only is the restoration of the presence of God in believers; he also equips believers to serve the church and the world. As the fruit of the Spirit are the result of the reproduction of godly character in believers ( Galatians 5:22-23 ), so the gifts of the Spirit ( Romans 12:4-6;  1 Corinthians 12,14 ) are the means by which believers serve others.

Though God sanctifies by grace, human beings are responsible to appropriate God's grace by faith . Faith is "the" means of sanctifying grace. The Bible indicates that there are other means at the disposal of believers to promote the direct faiththe Word, prayer, the church, and providence. The Word reveals God's will ( John 17:17 ). Prayer allows the believer to apply faith to every area of life. The church is the context in which mutual ministry takes place. Providence is God's superintendence over every detail of life so that a believer will always have a way to grow in grace. Whether abounding or not ( Philippians 4:11 ), whether certain of the outcome or not ( Esther 4:11-5:3 ), the people of God may sanctify each situation knowing that God has allowed it and is present in it. In the case of temptation, the believer knows that there always will be a sanctifying faith response available ( 1 Corinthians 10:13 ). When God disciplines his children, it is for their good, that they may "share in his holiness" ( Hebrews 12:10 ).

God detests sacrifices that are not offered by faith ( Psalm 40:6;  Hebrews 10:5-7 ). On the other hand, a person is sanctified by presenting to God offerings that he proscribes ( 1 Samuel 16:5;  Job 1:5 ). In New Testament language, we present ourselves as "living sacrifices" ( Romans 12:1 ). According to the old covenant, sacrifices are usually slain. Yet in the new covenant a believer dies with Christ in order to live a new holy life in the power of Christ's resurrection and in identification with Christ's suffering ( Romans 6:1-11;  Galatians 2:20;  Philippians 3:8-10 ).

A believer grows in sanctification by living according to his or her new identity . Before being "in Christ" the believer was "in Adam" ( Romans 5:12-21 ). To be "in Adam" is to be spiritually dead. Death means "separation, " not "annihilation." A spiritually dead person is separated from God, the Life which alone can make one "godly." While separated from God, the unbeliever develops a working relationship with three related counter-sanctifying influencesthe world, the flesh, and the devil. "The world" provides an allure to which "the flesh" readily responds, so that the believer has a topsy-turvy outlook that places created things before the Creator ( Romans 1:23-25 ). All the while "the devil"Satan, the liar and slanderer of Godalong with those under his sway, give hearty approval.

Faith in the gospel places the believer "in Christ, " where everything becomes new ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ). Scripture calls all that the "new" believer was outside of Christ the "old man" or "old self." That identity has passed away through faith-solidarity with Christ in his death. The new identity is characterized by faith-solidarity with Christ in his resurrection so that "we might bear fruit to God" ( Romans 7:4 b; cf.  Romans 6:1-11;  Colossians 3:1-4 ). Formally, the transformation by faith is immediate, but does not automatically result in changed thinking or behavior. The world, the flesh, and the devil still operate in their usual insidious way, but the power of each has been rendered inoperative ( Romans 6:6;  Hebrews 2:14 ) for those who live by faith according to their new identity. Faith includes repentanceidentifying and forsaking everything that characterizes the "old man." Faith also includes trustliving in the light of everything that characterizes the "new man, " even if it doesn't "feel" right. All of this is done in hope, or forward-looking faithconfidence that God will carry out his sanctifying purposes to the end. When Christ returns to complete his work, he will remake the world, resurrect believers, and banish Satan eternally.

Sexual purity is a frequently mentioned application in Scripture of a properly functioning sanctified life ( 1 Corinthians 6:18-20;  1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 ). This is so, in part, because marriage is the most revealing context from which to understand Christ's sanctifying purpose for the Church ( Ephesians 5:25-30 ). Believers' bodies are sanctified by controlling them in such a way that God's purposes are being fulfilled by them ( Romans 6:19,22;  12:1-2;  1 Thessalonians 4:4 ).

Sanctification has a negative and positive orientation . Negatively, sanctification is the cleansing or purifying from sin ( Isaiah 66:17;  1 Corinthians 6:11;  Ephesians 5:26;  Titus 3:5-6;  Hebrews 9:13 ). The laver in God's sanctuary provided a place for those offering sacrifice to God to ritually cleanse themselves. Christ cleanses the sinner once for all. The believer testifies to this through a lifestyle of self-denial ( Matthew 16:24 ). Biblical self-denial is not asceticismwithholding pleasure or causing pain as an inherent means of spiritual growth. It is placing the interests of God before the interests of self. Believers do not deny or ridicule legitimate human desires. These desires, however, need to be continually prioritized according to God's purposes ( Matthew 6:33 ).

Positively, sanctification is the growth in righteous attitudes and behavior. Good deeds ( Ephesians 2:10 ), godliness ( 1 Peter 1:15 ), Christ-likeness ( 1 Peter 2:21 ), and fulfilling the demands of the Law ( Romans 8:4 ) are all ways of referring to the product of sanctification. The believer "presses on" by laying hold by faith on the promises of God ( Philippians 3:12 ), striving according to his indwelling resources ( Colossians 1:29 ).

The initial avenue of spiritual experience is the mind . Faith must have an object. God transforms believers from a worldly perspective and lifestyle by renewing the mind ( Romans 12:2 ). The Word of God makes us wise ( 2 Timothy 3:15 ), for "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" ( Romans 10:17 ). We need the mind of Christ ( Philippians 2:5 ), by which we take every thought captive ( 2 Corinthians 10:5 ).

The result of sanctification is glorythe manifestation of God's presence . Glory is symbolized by a fire that does not consume ( Exodus 3:5 ), by a visible pillar of cloud and fire hovering above the Holy of Holies ( Exodus 40:34-35 ), by fire and violent quaking accompanying the giving of the Law on Sinai ( Exodus 19:18 ), and by the splendor that will accompany Christ's return to earth ( Revelation 19 ). God's sanctifying presence among people results in the manifestation of his glorious moral attributes. The new covenant brings greater glory than the old ( 2 Corinthians 3 ). The Spirit occupies the place in the new covenant that the Lord did in the old covenant ( 2 Corinthians 3:17 ). He progressively grows believers into God's likeness from glory to glory ( 2 Corinthians 3:18 ). So, whereas sanctification has been accomplished fully and finally in Christ and all those who are in Christ are positively sanctified, the Christian is progressively sanctified through the Spirit's ministry.

The New Testament stresses moral, not ritual sanctification . Christ's atoning work put an end to the ceremonial foreshadowing of Israel's cultic practice. Jesus' reference to the temple altar in  Matthew 23:19 was from the perspective of the practice he came to supersede.

A sanctified believer has assurance that he or she is Christ's . The call to sanctification reminds the Christian that he or she cannot presume upon justification. Professing believers are to "pursue" sanctification ( Hebrews 12:14 ). Apart from God's sanctifying work in human beings, "no one will see the Lord" ( Hebrews 12:14 ). God will judge any person claiming identification with Christ while not actively engaged in pursuing sanctification ( Matthew 7:21-23 ). John bases assurance on a faith that perseveres in sanctification ( 1 John 2:3-6;  5:2-4 ). Though sanctification is never complete in this life ( 1 John 1:8-10 ), it is not an optional extra tacked on to justification.

Bradford A. Mullen

See also Ethics; Spirituality; Union With Christ

Bibliography . D. L. Alexander, ed., Christian Spirituality  ; J. S. Baxter, Christian Holiness: Restudied and Restated  ; G. C. Berkouwer, Faith and Sanctification  ; M. E. Dieter, et al., Five Views of Sanctification  ; S. B. Ferguson Know Your Christian Life: A Theological Introduction  ; D. C. Needham, Birthright: Christian, Do You Know Who You Are?  ; J. I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit  ; W. T. Purkiser, et al., Exploring Christian Holiness .

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

sanctification santificatio hag hagiasmos hagiosyne hagiotes hagiazo hagios hag qadosh Holy

Old Testament In Old Testament thought the focus of holiness ( qadosh ) is upon God. He is holy ( Psalm 99:9 ); His name is holy ( Psalm 99:3;  Psalm 111:9 ) and may not be profaned ( Leviticus 20:3 ). Since God exists in the realm of the holy rather than the profane, all that pertains to Him must come into that same realm of holiness. This involves time, space, objects, and people.

Certain times are sanctified in that they are set apart especially to the Lord: the Sabbath ( Genesis 2:3 ), the various festivals ( Leviticus 23:4-44 ), the year of Jubilee ( Leviticus 25:12 ). By strictly observing the regulations governing each, Israel sanctified (or treated as holy) these special times of the year. Also the land of Canaan ( Exodus 15:13 ), as well as Jerusalem ( Isaiah 11:9 ), was holy to the Lord and was not to be polluted by sinful conduct ( Leviticus 18:27-28 ). The tabernacle/Temple and all the objects related to it were holy ( Exodus 25:1 —Numbers 25:1— 10:1;  Ezekiel 40-48 ). The various gifts brought in worship were sanctified. These fall into three groupings: those whose sanctity was inherent (for example, firstborn males of female animals and human beings,  Exodus 13:2 ,Exodus 13:2, 13:11-13;  Leviticus 27:26 ); objects whose sanctification was required (for example, tithes of crops and pure animals,  Leviticus 27:30-33;  Deuteronomy 26:13 ); and gifts whose sanctification was voluntary (see partial list in  Leviticus 27:1 ). The dedication of these objects mostly occurred not at some ritual in the sanctuary but at a prior declaration of dedication ( Judges 17:3;  Leviticus 27:30-33 ).

Of course, the priests and Levites who functioned in the sanctuary, beginning with Aaron, were sanctified to the Lord by the anointing of oil ( Exodus 30:30-32;  Exodus 40:12-15 ). Additionally, the Nazirite was consecrated ( Numbers 6:8 ), although only for a specified period of time. Finally, the nation of Israel was sanctified to the Lord as a holy people ( Exodus 19:6;  Deuteronomy 7:1;Deuteronomy 7:1; 6:1;  Deuteronomy 14:2 ,Deuteronomy 14:2, 14:21;  Deuteronomy 26:19 ). This holiness was closely identified with obedience to the Law of Holiness in  Leviticus 17-26 , which includes both ritual and ethical commands. In the prophets especially, the ethical responsibility of being holy in conduct came to the forefront ( Isaiah 5:1;  Jeremiah 5-7;  Amos 4-5;  Hosea 11:1 ).

Sanctification in the New Testament The same range of meanings reflected by the Septuagint usage is preserved in the New Testament but with extension of meaning in certain cases. Objects may be made holy ( Matthew 23:17 ,Matthew 23:17, 23:19;  1 Timothy 4:5 ) or treated as holy ( Matthew 6:9;  Luke 11:2 ), but, mostly, the word group stresses the personal dimension of holiness. Here, the two streams of Old Testament meaning are significant: the cultic and the ethical. Sanctification is vitally linked to the salvation experience and is concerned with the moral/spiritual obligations assumed in that experience. We were set apart to God in conversion, and we are living out that dedication to God in holiness.

The link of New Testament thought to Old Testament antecedents in the cultic aspect of sanctification is most clearly seen in Hebrews. Christ's crucifixion makes possible the moving of the sinner from the profane to the holy (that is, sanctifies, makes holy) so that the believer can become a part of the temple where God dwells and is worshiped ( Hebrews 13:11-16;  Hebrews 2:9-11;  Hebrews 10:10 ,Hebrews 10:10, 10:14 ,Hebrews 10:14, 10:29 ). Paul ( Romans 15:16;  1 Corinthians 1:2;  1 Corinthians 6:11;  Ephesians 5:26-27;  2 Thessalonians 2:13 ) and Peter ( 1 Peter 1:2 ) both affirmed the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion as a sanctification, a making the believer holy so as to come before God in acceptance. Especially in Paul, justification and sanctification are closely related concepts. See Justification .

Hebrews also emphasizes the ethical aspect of sanctification. Sanctification/holiness is to be pursued as an essential aspect of the believer's life ( Hebrews 12:14 ); the blood of sanctification must not be defiled by sinful conduct ( Hebrews 10:26-31 ). Paul stressed both the individual's commitment to holy living ( Romans 6:19-22;  1 Thessalonians 4:3-8;  2 Corinthians 7:1 ) and the enabling power of God for it ( 1 Thessalonians 3:13;  1 Thessalonians 4:8 ). The summation of the ethical imperative is seen in Peter's use ( 1 Peter 1:15-16 ) of  Leviticus 11:44;  Leviticus 19:2;  Leviticus 20:7 : “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” See Ethics; Hebrews; Salvation .

Lorin L. Cranford

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [4]

Very much hath been said in the christian church respecting sanctification some making it the work of the creature, as if a man that is a polluted creature could sanctify himself; and others referring the whole work into the sovereignty and grace of the Lord. It may not be improper in a work of this kind to examine the doctrine by the standard of Scripture, which, is the only unerring standard, in order to form a right judgment upon a point of such infinite consequence.

It will be a sure plan in forming just conceptions of sanctification, if we bring all that is said of it in Scripture under these two distinct branches, namely, the sanctification which means setting apart, consecrating, or appointing to solemn and holy purposes—and the sanctification which means making that holy which before was polluted and defiled. I venture to believe that under one or other of these distinct particulars every thing in Scripture relating to sanctification may be included.

Concerning the first mentioned, the sanctification which means to set apart, to consecrate, or appropriate, to solemn and holy purposes, we meet with expressions in Scripture leading to this in both Testaments. Thus it is said that when Jehovah had finished the works of creation, he blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it—that is, set it apart for his more immediate honor. ( Genesis 2:3) So again, holy places were set apart and sanctified in their separation from ordinary things: thus the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry under the law were sanctified. In like manner the first-born were all set apart as the Lord's right—"The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb, among the children of Israel both of man and beast, it is mine," ( Exodus 13:1-2) When the Lord thus claims it for his own, and saith, it is mine, it means not that this sanctifying it to the Lord's use made the first-born holy, but that it set it apart for his service. In like manner, when the Lord Jesus Christ saith, "for their sakes I sanctity myself," ( John 17:19) surely he did not mean to say that he made himself more holy, for that was impossible, but that for the sake of his church and people he set himself apart in dedicating himself to God as their Surety and Saviour. Thus much may serve to explain the former sense of sanctification of persons and things dedicated to God

The other sense of sanctification in making that holy which before was polluted and defiled, is by much the most general sense of the term sanctifying, in Scripture. Thus the church of the Corinthians, when regenerated and brought into fellowship with Christ's mystical body, are said to have been cleansed and purified thereby: And such, saith the apostle, (speaking to characters notoriously known to have been once in the filth and under the dominion of sin, but now brought nigh by the blood of Christ) "and such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God," ( 1 Corinthians 6:11)

But the most essential point, in sanctification is to enquire concerning the source and fountain of it, not being founded in creature-power, or creature-holiness, but wholly in the Lord; and this will very fully appear from what the Scripture saith concerning it. All the persons of the Godhead concur and co-operate in the work. That God the Father is the author and giver of it, is plain from what the apostles Paul and Jude have said. The former in his First Epistle to the Thessalonians, prays that the God of peace may sanctify them wholly; ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23) —and the latter expressly addresseth his Epistle to them that are sanctified by God the Father. ( Jude 1:1:1) And that God the Son is no less the author of sanctification is evident, because the very purpose for which he gave himself for his church was that he might sactify and cleanse it. ( Ephesians 5:23) And concerning God the Holy Ghost it is said, by the apostle to the Thessalonians, that we are bound to give thanks always to God, because from the beginning the church is chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit. ( 2 Thessalonians 2:13)

It is most blessed and refreshing to a soul thus to trace the doctrine to its source, and behold all the glorious persons, of the GODHEAD as the united authors of it; and while we are justified freely by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, to see also that all our sanctification is of him, and that "he is made of God to us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord." ( 1 Corinthians 1:30-31)

And were it not for trespassing too largely in this article, it would be blessed to trace sanctification through all its branches, and to discover the Lord's hand in every one. The beginning of it is of the Lord. "He" saith Paul, "that hath begun the good work in you, will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ." ( Philippians 1:6) The keeping it alive in the soul is of the Lord, for he saith, "The path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." ( Proverbs 4:18) The restoration of it when at any time under decaying circumstances is of the Lord. "They shall revive (saith the Lord) as the corn, and grow as the vine." ( Hosea 14:7) "Because I live, ye shall live also." ( John 14:19) The final perseverance of it is of the Lord; for in the covenant of grace the charter runs thus—"I will not turn away from them to do them good, but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." ( Jeremiah 32:40) Most blessedly, therefore, and graciously the Lord undertakes for both—I will not, saith God, and they shall not. Glorious Security! And finally to add no more—as the commencement of all grace and sanctification is in God, so the consummation of all glory is in him also. Jesus, who justifies and sanctifies his people freely, hath engaged to complete the whole for JEHOVAH'S glory and his people's happiness. It is said that the whole purport of redemption is that he might finally and fully, and completely, present his church to himself "a glorious church not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish." Oh, the unspeakable felicity of being clothed in his garments of righteousness, and presented by Jesus, and to Jesus, in that day before JEHOVAH and a congregated world, holy, and sanctified in his holiness and sanctity, and made so for ever!

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [5]

The connection between sanctification and holiness is clearer in the original languages of the Bible than in the English of today. In Hebrew and Greek, the two words share the same root. To sanctify means to declare, acknowledge as, or make holy.

In the Old Testament

To Israelites of Old Testament times, the basic meaning of holiness was not a condition of moral purity, but a state of being different or separate from the common things of life. God was holy ( Exodus 15:11-12), and so were people and things set apart for him ( Exodus 19:6;  Exodus 29:29;  Exodus 29:31;  Exodus 30:25;  Leviticus 27:30;  Leviticus 27:33;  Numbers 5:17). To sanctify a person or thing meant to separate it from the common affairs of life and consecrate it wholly to God ( Exodus 13:2;  Exodus 19:10;  Exodus 19:23;  Exodus 29:37;  Exodus 29:44;  Leviticus 27:21).

Since sanctification meant separation from common use for God’s use, sanctification soon included in it those ideas of moral purity that we today more commonly associate with the word. Both Old and New Testament writers emphasized that formal sanctification was of value only when it was accompanied by practical sanctification ( 2 Chronicles 29:15-16;  2 Chronicles 29:34;  2 Chronicles 30:15;  2 Chronicles 30:17;  Romans 6:19;  Romans 6:22). (For a fuller discussion on the biblical ideas of holiness see Holiness .)

In the New Testament

The New Testament speaks about the relationship aspect of sanctification (setting a person or thing apart for God) and the moral aspect (living an upright life). Jesus Christ was sanctified in both aspects. He was wholly consecrated to God ( John 17:19;  Acts 3:14) and he was morally perfect in his life ( Hebrews 7:26;  1 Peter 2:22).

Although their experience differs from Christ’s, Christians also may be spoken of as sanctified in the two senses we have been considering. In both cases Christ is the means of their sanctification.

Firstly, through Christ’s death believers are brought into a right relationship with God ( 1 Corinthians 1:30;  Hebrews 10:10). God is the one who sanctifies them, as he cleanses them of their sin and declares them holy and righteous in his sight ( 2 Thessalonians 2:13;  Hebrews 2:12;  Hebrews 10:14-17;  1 Peter 1:2). In this sense, sanctification is another way of looking at the truth that is expressed in justification ( 1 Corinthians 6:11; see Justification ). Believers are ‘saints’, meaning ‘the sanctified ones’. They are ‘God’s holy people’ ( Romans 1:7;  1 Corinthians 1:2;  Ephesians 1:1).

Secondly, sanctification means that Christians are to have a moral and spiritual change in their lives. God has declared them holy (because of what Christ has done on their behalf) and they must now make that true in practice. They are sanctified; now they must be sanctified ( Romans 6:8-11;  Romans 6:19-22;  1 Thessalonians 4:3;  1 Thessalonians 5:23;  Hebrews 12:14). This will involve a battle with the old sinful nature (the flesh), but through the power of the living Christ within, they can have victory over the flesh and be progressively changed into the likeness of Christ ( Romans 8:9-12;  Romans 12:1-2;  Colossians 3:9-10;  Colossians 3:12;  1 Peter 1:14-15).

There are two other uses of the word ‘sanctify’ that should be noted. In the first, people are said to sanctify God when they acknowledge his holiness and reverence him as Lord ( Numbers 20:12;  Isaiah 8:13;  Isaiah 29:23;  1 Peter 3:15). In the second, God is said to sanctify the unbelieving husband whose wife has become a Christian. This does not mean that God makes the man into a Christian, but that he accepts the man as part of an equal marriage. God considers the marriage to be holy on account of the believing partner; it is a lawful union ( 1 Corinthians 7:14).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

This term is from qadesh, ἁγιάζω, 'to set apart to sacred purposes, consecrate.' It has various applications in the O.T.

As to days: God sanctified the seventh day on which He rested; it was afterwards to be kept holy by the Israelites.  Genesis 2:3;  Exodus 20:8 .

As to persons: The whole of the Israelites were sanctified to God.  Exodus 19:10,14 . The firstborn were further sanctified to God, to be redeemed by the Levites.  Exodus 13:2 . The priests and Levites were sanctified to the service of God.

As to the place and vessels of divine service: The tabernacle and temple, and all the vessels used therein, were devoted to sacred use in the worship of God.  Exodus 30:29 . We have thus what was suitable in view of God: there was also what was obligatory on the part of those that approached.

The priests, Levites, and people were often called upon to sanctify themselves, to be ceremonially fit to approach God and His sanctuary.  Leviticus 20:7;  Numbers 11:18; etc. God declared, "I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me,"  Leviticus 10:3; God must be approached with reverence and in separation from what is unsuited to Him.

In the N.T. sanctification has many applications.

1. The thought is twice expressed by the Lord Jesus as to Himself. He spoke of Himself as one "whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world."   John 10:36 . He was set apart by the Father for the accomplishment of the purposes of His will. In His prayer for His disciples in  John 17 the Lord also says, "For their sakes I sanctify myself." He set Himself apart in heaven from rights that belonged to Him as man, that His own might be sanctified by the truth. He was sanctified on earth for the Father, He has sanctified Himself in heaven for the saints.

2. Believers are said to be "sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."   Romans 15:16;  1 Corinthians 1:2;  Hebrews 10:10 . They are thus 'saints,' 'sanctified ones' before God, apart from the life of flesh, a class of persons set apart to God for priestly service.  Acts 20:32;  Acts 26:18;  Romans 1:7; etc. In this there is no progress: in effect it implies the most intimate identification with Christ. Such are His brethren. "He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one, "  Hebrews 2:11; the sanctified are "perfected for ever" by one offering.  Hebrews 10:14 .

3. But believers are viewed also on the side of obligation and are exhorted to yield their members "servants to righteousness unto holiness" (ἁγιασμός).   Romans 6:19 . God chastens them that they may be partakers of His holiness.  Hebrews 12:10 . Without sanctification no one will see the Lord. In this there is progress: a growing up into Christ in all things.   Ephesians 4:15 . The apostle Paul prayed that the God of peace would sanctify the Thessalonians wholly.  1 Thessalonians 5:23 .

4. Sanctification appears to refer to change of association, for the possibility is contemplated of some who had been sanctified treading under foot the Son of God, and treating the blood of the covenant as an unholy or common thing, thus becoming apostates from Christ, and departing from the association in which they had been sanctified.   Hebrews 10:29 .

5. In the existing mixed and corrupt state of Christendom (viewed as a great house, in which are vessels, some to honour and some to dishonour), the obligation to sanctification from evil within the sphere of profession has become obligatory in order that a man may be "a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work."   2 Timothy 2:21 .

6. An unbelieving husband or wife is said to be sanctified in the believing partner, and their children are holy (ἅγιος). They can thus dwell together in peace, instead of having to separate from an unbelieving partner, as in Old Testament times.   1 Corinthians 7:14 : cf.  Ezra 9 ,  Ezra 10 .

7. Food is "sanctified by the word of God and prayer." Hence "every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving."   1 Timothy 4:4,5 . This is altogether opposed to restrictions prescribed by the law, or which man may impose on the use of what God in His goodness has created for man's use.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [7]

That work of God's grace, by which we are renewed after the image of God, set apart for his service, and enabled to die unto sin and live unto righteousness. It must be carefully considered in a two-fold light.

1. As an inestimable privilege granted us from God,  1 Thessalonians 5:23 .


2. As an all- comprehensive duty required of us by his holy word,  1 Thessalonians 4:3 . It is distinguished from justification thus: Justification changeth our state in law before God as a Judge; sanctification changeth our heart and life before him as our Father. Justification precedes, and sanctification follows, as the fruit and evidence of it. the surety-righteousness of christ imputed is our justifying righteousness; but the grace of God implanted is the matter of our sanctification. Justification removes the guilt of sin; sanctification the power of it. Justification delivers us from the avenging wrath of God, sanctification conforms us to his image. Yet justification and sanctification are inseparably connected in the promise of God,  Romans 8:1-39; in the covenant of grace,  Hebrews 8:10; in the doctrines and promises of the Gospel,  Acts 5:31; and in the experience of all true believers,  1 Corinthians 6:11 . Sanctification is,

1. A divine work, and not to be begun or carried on by the power of man,  Titus 3:5 .

2. A progressive work, and not perfected at once,  Proverbs 4:18 .

3. An internal work, not consisting in external profession or bare morality,  Psalms 51:6 .

4. A necessary work, necessary as to the evidence of our state, the honour of our characters, the usefulness of our lives, the happiness of our minds, and the internal enjoyment of God's presence in a future world,  John 3:3 .  Hebrews 12:14 . Sanctification evidences itself by,

1. A holy reverence,  Nehemiah 5:15 .

2. Earnest regard,  Lamentations 3:24 .

3. Patient submission,  Psalms 39:9 . Hence Archbishop Usher said of it, "Sanctification is nothing less than for a man to be brought to an entire resignation of his will to the will of God, and to live in the offering up of his soul continually in the flames of love, and as a whole burnt-offering to christ."

4. Increasing hatred to sin,  Psalms 119:133 .

5. Communion with God,  Isaiah 26:8 .

6. Delight in his word and ordinances,  Psalms 27:4 .

7. Humility,  Job 42:5;  Job 6:1-30 :

8. Prayer,  Psalms 109:4 .

9. Holy confidence,  Psalms 27:1 .

10. Praise,  Psalms 103:1 .

11. Uniform obedience,  John 15:8 .

See Marshall on Sanctification; Dr. Owen on the Holy Spirit; Witsii OEconomia, lib. 3: 100: 12; Brown's Nat. and Rev. Theology, p. 447; Haweis's sermons, ser. 11, 12, 13; Scougal's Works.

See articles Holiness, Works

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Romans 6:13 2 4:6 Colossians 3:10 1 John 4:7 1 Corinthians 6:19 1 Corinthians 6:11 2 2:13 Galatians 2:20

Perfect sanctification is not attainable in this life ( 1 Kings 8:46;  Proverbs 20:9;  Ecclesiastes 7:20;  James 3:2;  1 John 1:8 ). See Paul's account of himself in  Romans 7:14-25;  Philippians 3:12-14; and  1 Timothy 1:15; also the confessions of David ( Psalm 19:12,13;  51 ), of Moses (90:8), of ( Job 42:5,6 ), and of ( Daniel 9:3-20 ). "The more holy a man is, the more humble, self-renouncing, self-abhorring, and the more sensitive to every sin he becomes, and the more closely he clings to Christ. The moral imperfections which cling to him he feels to be sins, which he laments and strives to overcome. Believers find that their life is a constant warfare, and they need to take the kingdom of heaven by storm, and watch while they pray. They are always subject to the constant chastisement of their Father's loving hand, which can only be designed to correct their imperfections and to confirm their graces. And it has been notoriously the fact that the best Christians have been those who have been the least prone to claim the attainment of perfection for themselves.", Hodge's Outlines.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [9]

that work of God's grace by which we are renewed after the image of God, set apart for his service, and enabled to die unto sin and live unto righteousness. Sanctification is either of nature, whereby we are renewed after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness,  Ephesians 4:24;  Colossians 3:19 , or of practice, whereby we die unto sin, have its power destroyed in us, cease from the love and practice of it, hate it as abominable, and live unto righteousness, loving and studying good works,  Titus 2:11-12 . Sanctification comprehends all the graces of knowledge, faith, repentance, love, humility, zeal, patience, &c, and the exercise of them in our conduct toward God or man:

 Galatians 5:22-24;  1 Peter 1:15-16;  Matthew 5:6-7 . Sanctification in this world must be complete; the whole nature must be sanctified, all sin must be utterly abolished, or the soul can never be admitted into the glorious presence of God,  Hebrews 12:14;  1 Peter 1:15;  Revelation 21:27; yet the saints, while here, are in a state of spiritual warfare with Satan and his temptations, with the world and its influence,  2 Corinthians 2:11;  Galatians 5:17;  Galatians 5:24;  Romans 7:23;  1 John 2:15-16 .

King James Dictionary [10]

SANCTIFICA'TION, n. See Sanctify.

1. The act of making holy. In an evangelical sense, the act of God's grace by which the affections of men are purified or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love to God.

God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.  2 Thessalonians 2 .  1 Peter 1 .

2. The act of consecrating or of setting apart for a sacred purpose consecration.

Webster's Dictionary [11]

(1): ( n.) The act of consecrating, or of setting apart for a sacred purpose; consecration.

(2): ( n.) The act of sanctifying or making holy; the state of being sanctified or made holy;

(3): ( n.) the act of God's grace by which the affections of men are purified, or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love to God; also, the state of being thus purified or sanctified.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

saṇk - ti - fi - kā´shun  :


I. The Formal Sense

1. In the Old Testament

2. In the New Testament

II. The Ethical Sense

1. Transformation of Formal to Ethical Idea

2. Our Relation to God as Personal: New Testament Idea

3. Sanctification as God's Gift

4. Questions of Time and Method

5. An Element in All Christian Life

6. Follows from Fellowship with God

7. Is It Instantaneous and Entire?

8. Sanctification as Man's Task



The root is found in the Old Testament in the Hebrew verb קרשׁ , ḳādhash , in the New Testament in the Greek verb ἀγιάζω , hagoázō . The noun "sanctification" ( ἁγιασμός , hagiasmós ) does not occur in the Old Testament and is found but 10 times in the New Testament, but the roots noted above appear in a group of important words which are of very frequent occurrence. These words are "holy," "hallow," "hallowed," "holiness," "consecrate," "saint," "sanctify," "sanctification." It must be borne in mind that these words are all translations of the same root, and that therefore no one of them can be treated adequately without reference to the others. All have undergone a certain development. Broadly stated, this has been from the formal, or ritual, to the ethical, and these different meanings must be carefully distinguished.

I. The Formal Sense.

By sanctification is ordinarily meant that hallowing of the Christian believer by which he is freed from sin and enabled to realize the will of God in his life. This is not, however, the first or common meaning in the Scriptures. To sanctify means commonly to make holy, that is, to separate from the world and consecrate to God.

1. In the Old Testament:

To understand this primary meaning we must go back to the word "holy" in the Old Testament. That is holy which belongs to Yahweh. There is nothing implied here as to moral character. It may refer to days and seasons, to places, to objects used for worship, or to persons. Exactly the same usage is shown with the word "sanctify." To sanctify anything is to declare it as belonging to God. "Sanctify unto me all the first-born ... it is mine" ( Exodus 13:2; compare  Numbers 3:13;  Numbers 8:17 ). It applies thus to all that is connected with worship, to the Levites ( Numbers 3:12 ), the priests and the tent of meeting ( Exodus 29:44 ), the altar and all that touches it ( Exodus 29:36 f), and the offering (  Exodus 29:27; compare 2 Macc 2:18; Ecclesiasticus 7:31). The feast and holy days are to be sanctified, that is, set apart from ordinary business as belonging to Yahweh (the Sabbath,  Nehemiah 13:19-22; a fast,  Joel 1:14 ). So the nation as a whole is sanctified when Yahweh acknowledges it and receives it as His own, "a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation" ( Exodus 19:5 ,  Exodus 19:6 ). A man may thus sanctify his house or his field ( Leviticus 27:14 ,  Leviticus 27:16 ), but not the firstling of the flock, for this is already Yahweh's ( Leviticus 27:26 ).

It is this formal usage without moral implication that explains such a passage as  Genesis 38:21 . The word translated "prostitute" here is from the same root ḳādhash , meaning literally,, as elsewhere, the sanctified or consecrated one ( ḳedhēshāh  ; see margin and compare  Deuteronomy 23:18;  1 Kings 14:24;  Hosea 4:14 ). It is the hierodule, the familiar figure of the old pagan temple, the sacred slave consecrated to the temple and the deity for immoral purposes. The practice is protested against in Israel ( Deuteronomy 23:17 f), but the use of the term illustrates clearly the absence of anything essentially ethical in its primary meaning (compare also   2 Kings 10:20 , "And Jehu said, Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it"; compare  Joel 1:14 ).

Very suggestive is the transitive use of the word in the phrase, "to sanctify Yahweh." To understand this we must note the use of the word "holy" as applied to Yahweh in the Old Testament. Its meaning is not primarily ethical. Yahweh's holiness is His supremacy, His sovereignty, His glory, His essential being as God. To say the Holy One is simply to say God. Yahweh's holiness is seen in His might, His manifested glory; it is that before which peoples tremble, which makes the nations dread ( Exodus 15:11-18; compare  1 Samuel 6:20;  Psalm 68:35;  Psalm 89:7;  Psalm 99:2 ,  Psalm 99:3 ). Significant is the way in which "jealous" and "holy" are almost identified ( Joshua 24:19;  Ezekiel 38:23 ). It is God asserting His supremacy, His unique claim. To sanctify Yahweh, therefore, to make Him holy, is to assert or acknowledge or bring forth His being as God, His supreme power and glory, His sovereign claim. Ezekiel brings this out most clearly. Yahweh has been profaned in the eyes of the nations through Israel's defeat and captivity. True, it was because of Israel's sins, but the nations thought it was because of Yahweh's weakness. The ethical is not wanting in these passages. The people are to be separated from their sins and given a new heart ( Ezekiel 36:25 ,  Ezekiel 36:26 ,  Ezekiel 36:33 ). But the word "sanctify" is not used for this. It is applied to Yahweh, and it means the assertion of Yahweh's power in Israel's triumph and the conquest of her foes ( Ezekiel 20:41;  Ezekiel 28:25;  Ezekiel 36:23;  Ezekiel 38:16;  Ezekiel 39:27 ). The sanctification of Yahweh is thus the assertion of His being and power as God, just as the sanctification of a person or object is the assertion of Yahweh's right and claim in the same.

The story of the waters of Meribah illustrates the same meaning. Moses' failure to sanctify Yahweh is his failure to declare Yahweh's glory and power in the miracle of the waters ( Numbers 20:12 ,  Numbers 20:13;  Numbers 27:14;  Deuteronomy 32:51 ). The story of Nadab and Abihu points the same way. Here "I will be sanctified" is the same as "I will be glorified" ( Leviticus 10:1-3 ). Not essentially different is the usage in  Isaiah 5:16 : "Yahweh of hosts is exalted in justice, and God the Holy One is sanctified in righteousness." Holiness again is the exaltedhess of God, His supremacy, which is seen here in the judgment (justice, righteousness) meted out to the disobedient people (compare the recurrent refrain of   Isaiah 5:25;  Isaiah 9:12 ,  Isaiah 9:17 ,  Isaiah 9:21;  Isaiah 10:4; see Justice; Justice Of God ).  Isaiah 8:13;  Isaiah 29:23 suggest the same idea by the way in which they relate "sanctify" to fear and awe. One New Testament passage brings us the same meaning (  1 Peter 3:15 ): "Sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord," that is, exalt Him as supreme.

2. In the New Testament:

In a few New Testament passages the Old Testament ritual sense reappears, as when Jesus speaks of the temple sanctifying the gold, and the altar the gift ( Matthew 23:17 ,  Matthew 23:19; compare also  Hebrews 9:13;  1 Timothy 4:5 ). The prevailing meaning is that which we found in the Old Testament. To sanctify is to consecrate or set apart. We may first take the few passages in the Fourth Gospel. As applied to Jesus in  John 10:36;  John 17:19 , sanctify cannot mean to make holy in the ethical sense. As the whole context shows, it means to consecrate for His mission in the world. The reference to the disciples, "that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth," has both meanings: that they may be set apart, (for Jesus sends them, as the Father sends Him), and that they may be made holy in truth.

This same meaning of consecration, or separation, appears when we study the word saint, which is the same as "sanctified one." Aside from its use in the Psalms, the word is found mainly in the New Testament. Outside the Gospels, where the term "disciples" is used, it is the common word to designate the followers of Jesus, occurring some 56 times. By "saint" is not meant the morally perfect, but the one who belongs to Christ, just as the sanctified priest or offering belonged to Yahweh. Thus Paul can salute the disciples at Corinth as saints and a little later rebuke them as carnal and babes, as those among whom are jealousy and strife, who walk after the manner of men ( 1 Corinthians 1:2;  1 Corinthians 3:1-3 ). In the same way the phrase "the sanctified" or "those that are sanctified" is used to designate the believers. By "the inheritance among all them that are sanctified" is meant the heritage of the Christian believer ( Acts 20:32;  Acts 26:18; compare  1 Corinthians 1:2;  1 Corinthians 6:11;  Ephesians 1:18;  Colossians 1:12 ). This is the meaning in Hebrews, which speaks of the believer as being sanctified by the blood of Christ. In  Hebrews 10:29 the writer speaks of one who has fallen away, who "hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing." Evidently it is not the inner and personal holiness of this apostate that is referred to, especially in view of the tense, but that he had been separated unto God by this sacrificial blood and had then counted the holy offering a common thing. The contrast is between sacred and common, not between moral perfection and sin (compare   Hebrews 10:10;  Hebrews 13:12 ). The formal meaning appears again in  1 Corinthians 7:12-14 , where the unbelieving husband is said to be sanctified by the wife, and vice versa. It is not moral character that is meant here, but a certain separation from the profane and unclean and a certain relation to God. This is made plain by the reference to the children: "Else were your children unclean; but now are they holy." The formal sense is less certain in other instances where we have the thought of sanctification in or by the Holy Spirit or in Christ; as in  Romans 15:16 , "being sanctified by the Holy Spirit";  1 Corinthians 1:2 , to "them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus";  1 Peter 1:2 , "in sanctification of the Spirit." Paul's doctrine of the Spirit as the new life in us seems to enter in here, and yet the reference to 1 Corinthians suggests that the primary meaning is still that of setting apart, the relating to God.

II. The Ethical Sense.

We have been considering so far what has been called the formal meaning of the word; but the chief interest of Christian thought lies in the ethical idea, sanctification considered as the active deed or process by which the life is made holy.

1. Transformation of Formal to Ethical Idea:

Our first question is, How does the idea of belonging to God become the idea of transformation of life and character? The change is, indeed, nothing less than a part of the whole movement for which the entire Scriptures stand as a monument. The ethical is not wanting at the beginning, but the supremacy of the moral and spiritual over against the formal, the ritual, the ceremonial, the national, is the clear direction in which the movement as a whole tends. Now the pivot of this movement is the conception of God. As the thought of God grows more ethical, more spiritual, it molds and changes all other conceptions. Thus what it means to belong to God (holiness, sanctification) depends upon the nature of the God to whom man belongs. The hierodules of Corinth are women of shame because of the nature of the goddess to whose temple they belong. The prophets caught a vision of Yahweh, not jealous for His prerogative, not craving the honor of punctilious and proper ceremonial, but with a gracious love for His people and a passion for righteousness. Their great message is: This now is Yahweh; hear what it means to belong to such a God and to serve Him. "What unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices?... Wash you, make you clean;... seek justice, relieve the oppressed" ( Isaiah 1:11 ,  Isaiah 1:16 ,  Isaiah 1:17 ). "When Israel was a child, then I loved him.... I desire goodness, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than bunt-offerings" ( Hosea 11:1;  Hosea 6:6 ).

In this way the formal idea that we have been considering becomes charged with moral meaning. To belong to God, to be His servant, His son, is no mere external matter. Jesus' teaching as to sonship is in point here. The word "sanctification" does not occur in the Synoptic Gospels at all, but "sonship" with the Jews expressed this same relation of belonging. For them it meant a certain obedience on the one hand, a privilege on the other. Jesus declares that belonging to God means likeness to Him, sonship is sharing His spirit of loving good will ( Matthew 5:43-48 ). Brother and sister for Jesus are those who do God's will ( Mark 3:35 ). Paul takes up the same thought, but joins it definitely to the words "saint" and "sanctify." The religious means the ethical, those "that are sanctified" are "called to be saints" ( 1 Corinthians 1:2 ). The significant latter phrase is the same as in  Romans 1:1 , "Paul ... called to be an apostle." In this light we read  Ephesians 4:1 , "Walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." Compare  1 Thessalonians 2:12;  Philippians 1:27 . And the end of this calling is that we are "foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son" ( Romans 8:29 ). We must not limit ourselves to the words "saint" or "sanctify" to get this teaching with Paul. It is his constant and compelling moral appeal: You belong to Christ; live with Him, live unto Him ( Colossians 3:1-4;  1 Thessalonians 5:10 ). It is no formal belonging, no external surrender. It is the yielding of the life in its passions and purposes, in its deepest affections and highest powers, to be ruled by a new spirit ( Ephesians 4:13 ,  Ephesians 4:10 ,  Ephesians 4:23 ,  Ephesians 4:24 ,  Ephesians 4:32; compare  Romans 12:1 ).

2. Our Relation to God as Personal: New Testament Idea:

But we do not get the full meaning of this thought of sanctification as consecration, or belonging, until we grasp the New Testament thought of our relation to God as personal. The danger has always been that this consecration should be thought of in a negative or passive way. Now the Christian's surrender is not to an outer authority but to an inner, living fellowship. The sanctified life is thus a life of personal fellowship lived out with the Father in the spirit of Christ in loving trust and obedient service. This positive and vital meaning of sanctification dominates Paul's thought. He speaks of living unto God, of living to the Lord, and most expressively of all, of being alive unto Golf ( Romans 14:8; compare  Romans 6:13;  Galatians 2:19 ). So completely is his life filled by this fellowship that he can say, "It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me" ( Galatians 2:20 ). But there is no quietism here. It is a very rich and active life, this life of fellowship to which we are surrendered. It is a life of sonship in trust and love, with the spirit that enables us to say "Abba, Father" ( Romans 8:15;  Galatians 4:6 ). It is a life of unconquerable kindness and good will ( Matthew 5:43-48 ). It is a life of "faith working through love" ( Galatians 5:6 ), it is having the mind of Christ ( Philippians 2:5 ). The sanctified life, then, is the life so fully surrendered to fellowship with Christ day by day that inner spirit and outward expression are ruled by His spirit.

3. Sanctification as God's Gift:

We come now to that aspect which is central for Christian interest, sanctification as the making holy of life, not by our act, but by God's deed and by God's gift. If holiness represents the state of heart and life in conformity with God's will, then sanctification is the deed or process by which that state is wrought. And this deed we are to consider now as the work of God. Jesus prays that the Father may sanctify His disciples in truth ( John 17:17 ). So Paul prays for the Thessalonians ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ), and declares that Christ is to sanctify His church (compare  Romans 6:22;  2 Thessalonians 2:13;  2 Timothy 2:21;  1 Peter 1:2 ). Here sanctification means to make clean or holy in the ethical sense, though the idea of consecration is not necessarily lacking. But aside from special passages, we must take into account the whole New Testament teaching, according to which every part of the Christian life is the gift of God and wrought by His Spirit. "It is God that worketh in you both to will and to work" ( Philippians 2:13; compare  Romans 8:2-4 ,  Romans 8:9 ,  Romans 8:14 ,  Romans 8:16-26;  Galatians 5:22 f). Significant is the use of the words "creature" ("creation," see margin) and "workmanship" with Paul (  2 Corinthians 5:17;  Galatians 6:15;  Ephesians 2:10;  Ephesians 4:24 ). The new life is God's second work of creation.

4. Questions of Time and Method:

When we ask, however, when and how this work is wrought, there is no such clear answer. What we have is on the one hand uncompromising ideal and demand, and on the other absolute confidence in God. By adding to these two the evident fact that the Christian believers seen in the New Testament are far from the attainment of such Christian perfection, some writers have assumed to have the foundation here for the doctrine that the state of complete holiness of life is a special experience in the Christian life wrought in a definite moment of time. It is well to realize that no New Testament passages give a specific answer to these questions of time and method, and that our conclusions must be drawn from the general teaching of the New Testament as to the Christian life.

5. An Element in All Christian Life:

First, it must be noted that in the New Testament view sanctification in the ethical sense is an essential element and inevitable result of all Christian life and experience. Looked at from the religious point of view, it follows from the doctrine of regeneration. Regeneration is the implanting of a new life in man. So far as that is a new life from God it is ipso facto holy. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit teaches the same (see Holy Spirit ). There is no Christian life from the very beginning that is not the work of the Spirit. "No man can (even) say, Jesus is Lord, but in the ... Spirit" ( 1 Corinthians 12:3 ). But this Spirit is the Holy Spirit, whether with Paul we say Spirit of Christ or Spirit of God ( Romans 8:9 ). His presence, therefore, in so far forth means holiness of life. From the ethical standpoint the same thing is constantly declared. Jesus builds here upon the prophets: no religion without righteousness; clean hands, pure hearts, deeds of mercy are not mere conditions of worship, but joined to humble hearts are themselves the worship that God desires ( Amos 5:21-25;  Micah 6:6-8 ). Jesus deepened the conception, but did not, change it, and Paul was true to this succession. "If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ is in you,... the spirit is life because of righteousness" ( Romans 8:9 ,  Romans 8:10 ). There is nothing in Paul's teaching to suggest that sanctification is the special event of a unique experience, or that there are two kinds or qualities of sanctification. All Christian living meant for him clean, pure, right living, and that was sanctification. The simple, practical way in which he attacks the bane of sexual impurity in his pagan congregations shows this. "This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication; that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor. For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3 ,  1 Thessalonians 4:4 ,  1 Thessalonians 4:7 ). The strength of Paul's teaching, indeed, lies here in this combination of moral earnestness with absolute dependence upon God.

6. Follows from Fellowship with God:

The second general conclusion that we draw from the New Testament teaching as to the Christian life is this: the sanctification which is a part of all Christian living follows from the very nature of that life as fellowship with God. Fundamental here is the fact that the Christian life is personal, that nothing belongs in it which cannot be stated in personal terms. It is a life with God in which He graciously gives Himself to us, and which we live out with Him and with our brothers in the spirit of Christ, which is His Spirit. The two great facts as to this fellowship are, that it is God's gift, and that its fruit is holiness. First, it is God's gift. What God gives us is nothing less than Himself. The gift is not primarily forgiveness, nor victory over sin, nor peace of soul, nor hope of heaven. It is fellowship with Him, which includes all of these and without which none of these can be. Secondly, the fruit of this fellowship is holiness. The real hallowing of our life can come in no other way. For Christian holiness is personal, not something formal or ritual, and its source and power can be nothing lower than the personal. Such is the fellowship into which God graciously lifts the believer. Whatever its mystical aspects, that fellowship is not magical or sacramental. It is ethical through and through. Its condition on our side is ethical. For Christian faith is the moral surrender of our life to Him in whom truth and right come to us with authority to command. The meaning of that surrender is ethical; it is opening the life to definite moral realities and powers, to love, meekness, gentleness, humility, reverence, purity, the passion for righteousness, to that which words cannot analyze but which we know as the Spirit of Christ. Such a fellowship is the supreme moral force for the molding of life. An intimate human fellowship is an analogue of this, and we know with what power it works on life and character. It cannot, however, set forth either the intimacy or the power of this supreme and final relation where our Friend is not another but is our real self. So much we know: this fellowship means a new spirit in us, a renewed and daily renewing life.

It is noteworthy that Paul has no hard-and-fast forms for this life. The reality was too rich and great, and his example should teach us caution in the insistence upon theological forms which may serve to compress the truth instead of expressing it. Here are some of his expressions for this life in us: to "have the mind of Christ" ( 1 Corinthians 2:16;  Philippians 2:5 ), "the Spirit of Christ" ( Romans 8:9 ), "Christ is in you" ( Romans 8:10 ), "the spirit which is from God" ( 1 Corinthians 2:12 ), "the Spirit of God" ( 1 Corinthians 3:16 ), "the Holy Spirit" ( 1 Corinthians 6:19 ), "the Spirit of the Lord" ( 2 Corinthians 3:17 ), "the Lord the Spirit" ( 2 Corinthians 3:18 ). But in all this one fact stands out, this life is personal, a new spirit in us, and that spirit is one that we have in personal fellowship with God; it is His Spirit. Especially significant is the way in which Paul relates this new life to Christ. We have already noted that Paul uses indifferently "Spirit of God" and "Spirit of Christ," and that in the same passage ( Romans 8:9 ). Paul's great contribution to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit lies here. As he states it in  2 Corinthians 3:17 : "Now the Lord is the Spirit." With that the whole conception of the Spirit gains moral content and personal character. The Spirit is personal, not some thing, nor some strange and magical power. The Spirit is ethical; there is a definite moral quality which is expressed when we say Christ. He has the Spirit who has the qualities of Christ. Thus the presence of the Spirit is not evidenced in the unusual, the miraculous, the ecstatic utterance of the enthusiast, or some strange deed of power, but in the workaday qualities of kindness, goodness, love, loyalty, patience, self-restraint (  Galatians 5:22 f). With this identification of the Spirit and the Christ in mind, we can better understand the passages in which Paul brings out the relation of Christ to the sanctification of the believer. He is the goal (  Romans 8:29 ). We are to grow up in Him ( Ephesians 4:15 ). He is to be formed in us ( Galatians 4:19 ). We are to behold Him and be changed into His image ( 2 Corinthians 3:17 f). This deepens into Paul's thought of the mystical relation with Christ. The Christian dies to sin with Him that he may live with Him a new life. Christ is now his real life. He dwells in Christ, Christ dwells in him. He has Christ's thoughts, His mind. See   Romans 6:3-11;  Romans 8:9 ,  Romans 8:10;  1 Corinthians 2:16;  1 Corinthians 15:22;  Galatians 2:20 .

This vital and positive conception of the sanctification of the believer must be asserted against some popular interpretations. The symbols of fire and water, as suggesting cleansing, have sometimes been made the basis for a whole superstructure of doctrine. (For the former, note  Isaiah 6:6 f;   Luke 3:16;  Acts 2:3; for the latter,  Acts 2:38;  Acts 22:16;  1 Corinthians 6:11;  Ephesians 5:26;  Titus 3:5;  Hebrews 10:22;  Revelation 1:5;  Revelation 7:14 .) There is a two-fold danger here, from which these writers have not escaped. The symbols suggest cleansing, and their over-emphasis has meant first a negative and narrow idea of sanctification as primarily separation from sin or defilement. This is a falling back to certain Old Testament levels. Secondly, these material symbols have been literalized, and the result has been a sort of mechanical or magical conception of the work of the Spirit. But the soul is not a substance for mechanical action, however sublimated. It is personal life that is to be hallowed, thought, affections, motives, desires, will, and only a personal agent through personal fellowship can work this end.

7. Is It Instantaneous and Entire?:

The clear recognition of the personal and vital character of sanctification will help us with another problem. If the holy life be God's requirement and at the same time His deed, why should not this sanctification be instantaneous and entire? And does not Paul imply this, not merely in his demands but in his prayer for the Thessalonians, that God may establish their hearts in holiness, that He may sanctify them wholly and preserve spirit and soul and body entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 3:13;  1 Thessalonians 5:23 )?

In answer to this we must first discriminate between the ideal and the empirical with Paul. Like John ( 1 John 1:6;  1 John 3:9 ), Paul insists that the life of Christ and the life of sin cannot go on together, and he knows no qualified obedience, no graduated standard. He brings the highest Christian demand to the poorest of his pagan converts. Nor have we any finer proof of his faith than this uncompromising idealism. On the other hand, how could he ask less than this? God cannot require less than the highest, but it is another question how the ideal is to be achieved. In the realm of the ideal it is always either ... or. In the realm of life there is another category. The question is not simply, Is this man sinner or saint? It is rather, What is he becoming? This matter of becoming is the really vital issue. Is this man turned the right way with all his power? Is his life wholly open to the divine fellowship? Not the degree of achievement, but the right attitude toward the ideal, is decisive. Paul does not stop to resolve paradoxes, but practically he reckons with this idea. Side by side with his prayer for the Thessalonians are his admonitions to growth and progress ( 1 Thessalonians 3:12;  1 Thessalonians 5:14 ). Neither the absolute demand or the promise of grace gives us the right to conclude how the consummation shall take place.

8. Sanctification as Man's Task:

That conclusion we can reach only as we go back again to the fundamental principle of the personal character of the Christian life and the relation thus given between the ethical and the religious. All Christian life is gift and task alike. "Work out your own salvation ... for it is God who worketh in you" ( Philippians 2:12 f). All is from God; we can only live what God gives. But there is a converse to this: only as we live it out can God give to us the life. This appears in Paul's teaching as to sanctification. It is not only God's gift, but our task. "This is the will of God, even your sanctification" (  1 Thessalonians 4:3 ). "Having therefore these promises ... let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness ( hagiōsúnē ) in the fear of God" ( 2 Corinthians 7:1 ). Significant is Paul's use of the word "walk." We are to "walk in newness of life," "by (or in) the Spirit," "in love," and "in Christ Jesus the Lord" ( Romans 6:4;  Galatians 5:16;  Ephesians 5:2;  Colossians 2:6 ). The gift in each case becomes the task, and indeed becomes real and effective only in this activity. It is only as we walk by the Spirit that this becomes powerful in overcoming the lusts of the flesh ( Galatians 5:16; compare  Galatians 5:25 ). But the ethical is the task that ends only with life. If God gives only as we live, then He cannot give all at once. Sanctification is then the matter of a life and not of a moment. The life may be consecrated in a moment, the right relation to God assumed and the man stand in saving fellowship with Him. The life is thus made holy in principle. But the real making holy is co-extensive with the whole life of man. It is nothing less than the constant in-forming of the life of the inner spirit and outer deed with the Spirit of Christ until we, "speaking truth in love, may grow up in all things into him, who is the head" ( Ephesians 4:15 ). (Read also Rom 6; that the Christian is dead to sin is not some fixed static fact, but is true only as he refuses the lower and yields his members to a higher obedience. Note that in  1 Corinthians 5:7 Paul in the same verse declares "ye are unleavened," and then exhorts "Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump"; compare also   1 Thessalonians 5:5-10 .)

We may sum up as follows: The word "sanctify" is used with two broad meanings: (1) The first is to devote, to consecrate to God, to recognize as holy, that is, as belonging to God. This is the regular Old Testament usage and is most common in the New Testament. The prophets showed that this belonging to Yahweh demanded righteousness. The New Testament deepens this into a whole-hearted surrender to the fellowship of God and to the rule of His Spirit. (2) Though the word itself appears in but few passages with this sense, the New Testament is full of the thought of the making holy of the Christian's life by the Spirit of God in that fellowship into which God lifts us by His grace and in which He gives Himself to us. This sanctifying, or hallowing, is not mechanical or magical. It is wrought out by God's Spirit in a daily fellowship to which man gives himself in aspiration and trust and obedience, receiving with open heart, living out in obedient life. It is not negative, the mere separation from sin, but the progressive hallowing of a life that grows constantly in capacity, as in character, into the stature of full manhood as it is in Christ. And from this its very nature it is not momentary, but the deed and the privilege of a whole life. See also Holy Spirit and the following article.


The popular and special works are usually too undiscriminating and unhistorical to be of value for the Biblical study. An exception is Beet, Holiness Symbolic and Real . Full Biblical material in Cremer, Biblical Theol. Lexicon , but treated from special points of view. See Systematic Theologies, Old Testament Theologies (compare especially Smend), and New Testament Theologies (compare especially Holtzmann).

Wesleyan Doctrine

1. Doctrine Stated

2. Objections Answered

3. Required for the Highest Success of the Preacher

4. Hymnology

5. Its Glorious Results

6. Wesley's Personal Testimony

1. Doctrine Stated:

Christian perfection, through entire sanctification, by faith, here and now, was one of the doctrines by which John Wesley gave great offense to his clerical brethren in the Anglican church. From the beginning of his work in 1739, till 1760, he was formulating this doctrine. At the last date there suddenly arose a large number of witnesses among his followers. Many of these he questioned with Baconian skill, the result being a confirmation of his theories on various points.

In public address he used the terms "Christian Perfection," "Perfect Love," and "Holiness," as synonymous, though there are differences between them when examined critically. With Paul he taught that all regenerate persons are saints, i.e. holy ones, as the word "saint," from Latin sanctus , through the Norman-Fr, signifies (  1 Corinthians 1:2;  2 Corinthians 1:1 ). His theory is that in the normal Christian the principle of holiness, beginning with the new birth, gradually expands and strengthens as the believer grows in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, till, by a final, all-surrendering act of faith in Christ, it reaches an instantaneous completion through the act of the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier:  2 Corinthians 7:1 "perfecting holiness," etc.;   Ephesians 4:13 , the King James Version "Till we all come ... unto a perfect man," etc. Thus sanctification is gradual, but entire sanctification is instantaneous ( Romans 6:6 , "our old man was crucified," etc., a sudden death;  Galatians 2:20 , "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live"). In  1 Thessalonians 5:23 , the word "sanctify" is a Greek aorist tense, signifying an act and not a process, as also in  John 17:19 , "that they ... may be sanctified in truth," or truly. (See Meyer's note.) Many Christians experience this change on their deathbeds. If death suddenly ends the life of a growing Christian before he is wholly sanctified, the Holy Spirit perfects the work. Wesley's advice to the preachers of this evangelical perfection was to draw and not to drive, and never to quote any threatenings of God's word against God's children. The declaration, "Without sanctification no man shall see the Lord" ( Hebrews 12:14 ), does not apply to the saints, "the holy ones."

Wesley's perfection of love is not perfection of degree, but of kind. Pure love is perfect love. The gradual growth toward perfect purity of love is beautifully expressed in Monod's hymn,

"O the bitter shame and sorrow!"

The first response to the Saviour's call is,

"All of self, and none of Thee."

But after a view of Christ on the cross, the answer is faintly,

"Some of self, and some of Thee."

Then, after a period of growing love, the cry is,

"Less of self, and more of Thee."

After another period, the final cry is,

"None of self, and all of Thee!"

an aspiration for pure love, without any selfishness.

The attainment of this grace is certified by the total cessation of all Servile fear ( 1 John 4:18 ). Wesley added to this the witness of the Spirit, for which his only proof-text is  1 Corinthians 2:12 .

2. Objections Answered:

(1) Paul, in  Philippians 3:12 , declares that he is not "made perfect": ( a ) in  Philippians 3:15 , he declares that he is perfect; ( b ) "made perfect" is a term, borrowed from the ancient games, signifying a finished course. This is one of the meanings of teleióō , as seen also in  Luke 13:32 margin, "The third day I end my course." Paul no more disclaims spiritual perfection in these words than does Christ before "the third day." Paul claims in   Philippians 3:15 , by the use of an adjective, that he is perfect. In  Philippians 3:12 Paul claims that he is not perfect as a victor, because the race is not ended. In   Philippians 3:15 he claims that he is perfect as a racer.

(2) Paul says ( 1 Corinthians 15:31 ), "I die daily." This does not refer to death to sin, as some say that it does, but to his daily danger of being killed for preaching Christ, as in  Romans 8:36 , "we are killed all the day long."

(3)  1 John 1:8 : "If we say that we have no sin," etc. ( a ) If this includes Christians, it contradicts John himself in the very next verse, and in  John 3:9 , sin," "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no and  John 8:36 , "If ... the Son shall make you free," etc., and in all those texts in the New Testament declaring sins forgiven.

( b ) Bishop Westcott says that the expression, "to have sin," is distinguished from "to sin," as the sinful principle is distinguished from the sinful act in itself. It includes the idea of personal guilt. Westcott asserts that John refers to the Gnostics, who taught that moral evil exists only in matter, and never touches spirit, which is always holy; and, therefore, though guilty of all manner of vice, their spirits had no need of atonement, because they were untouched by sin, which existed only in their bodies, as it does in all matter. When told that this made the body of Christ sinful, they denied the reality of His body, saying that it was only a phantom. Hence, in the very first verse of this Epistle, John writes evidently against the Gnostic error, quoting three of the five senses to prove the reality of Chrtst's humanity. (By all means, see "The Epistles of John," Cambridge Bible for Schools , etc., 17-21.)

3. Required for the Highest Success of the Preacher:

The relation of this doctrine to the Methodist Episcopal church in the United States is seen in the following questions, which have been affirmatively answered in public by all its preachers on their admission to the Conferences: "Are you going on to perfection?"; "Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?"; "Are you earnestly striving after it?" The hymns of the Wesleys, still universally sung, are filled with this doctrine, in which occur such expressions as:

4. Hymnology:

"Take away our bent to sinning,"...

"Let us find that second rest,"...

"Make and keep me pure within,"...

"'Tis done! Thou dost this moment save,

With full salvation bless."...

5. Its Glorious Results:

To the preaching of Christian perfection Wesley ascribed the success of his work in the conversion, religious training and intellectual education of the masses of Great Britain. It furnished him a multitude of consecrated workers, many of them lay preachers, who labored in nearly every hamlet, and who carried the gospel into all the British colonies, including America. It is declared by secular historians that this great evangelical movement, in which the doctrine of entire sanctification was so prominent, saved England from a disastrous revolution, like that which drenched France with the blood of its royal family and its nobility, in the last decade of the 18th century. It is certain that the great Christian and humanitarian work of William Booth, originally a Methodist, was inspired by this doctrine which he constantly preached. This enabled his followers in the early years of the Salvation Army to endure the persecutions which befell them at that time.

6. Wesley's Personal Testimony:

On March 6,1760, Wesley enters in his Journal the following testimony of one Elizabeth Longmore: "'I felt my soul was all love. I was so stayed on God as I never felt before, and knew that I loved Him with all my heart.... And the witness that God had saved me from all my sins grew clearer every hour.... I have never since found my heart wander from God.' Now this is what I always did, and do now, mean by perfection. And this I believe many have attained, on the same evidence that I believe many are justified."

We have Wesley's only recorded testimony to his own justification in these words (May 24,1738): "I felt my heart strangely warmed ... and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins," etc.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

Separation from ordinary use to a sacred purpose. The Hebrew word קָדֵשׁ and the Greek word Ἃγιος , rendered "holy," "hallowed," and "sanctified," are applied to certain times which were hallowed as the Sabbath and the Hebrew festivals ( Genesis 2:3;  Exodus 20:8;  Exodus 20:11;  Leviticus 23:37;  2 Kings 10:20); to the things said to be hallowed, as the sacred incense or perfume ( Exodus 30:36;  Matthew 7:6), the sacred vestments ( Exodus 28:2;  Exodus 28:4), the sacred utensils ( Exodus 30:29;  1 Chronicles 22:10;  2 Timothy 2:21), the holy bread ( Leviticus 21:22;  1 Samuel 21:5), the altar ( Exodus 29:37;  Exodus 30:1;  Exodus 30:10;  Matthew 23:19), and portions of the sacrifices ( Leviticus 2:3;  Leviticus 2:10). So, also, of places said to be hallowed ( Exodus 3:5;  Acts 7:33), as the holy city, i.e. Jerusalem ( Nehemiah 11:1;  Isaiah 48:2;  Matthew 4:5;  Matthew 24:15;  Matthew 27:53;  Acts 6:13;  Acts 22:28), the holy mountain, i.e. Zion ( Psalms 2:6), the Tabernacle ( Numbers 18:10); the Temple ( Psalms 138:2), the most holy place, the oracle ( Exodus 26:33;  Exodus 28:43;  Hebrews 9:2-3;  Hebrews 9:12;  1 Kings 6:16;  1 Kings 8:6;  Ezekiel 41:23). So, also, men are said to be hallowed, as Aaron and his sons ( 1 Chronicles 23:13;  1 Chronicles 24:5;  Isaiah 43:28) , the firstborn ( Exodus 13:2), and the Hebrew people ( Exodus 19:10;  Exodus 19:14; Daniel 12), also the Pious Hebrews, the "saints" ( Deuteronomy 33:3;  Psalms 16:3;  Daniel 7:18), like the word חָסַיד , rendered "saint" ( Psalms 30:4;  Psalms 31:23;  Psalms 37:28;  Psalms 1:5;  Psalms 52:9;  Psalms 79:2;  Psalms 97:10), and "godly" ( Psalms 4:3).

The terms are also used of those who were ceremonially purified under the Mosaic law ( Numbers 6:11;  Leviticus 22:16;  Leviticus 22:32;  Hebrews 9:13). But, though the external purifications of the Hebrews, when any one had transgressed, had to do with restoration to civil and national privileges, they did not necessarily induce moral and spiritual holiness. They, however, reminded the sincere Hebrew that he was unclean in the sight of God; and that the ceremonial cleansings, by which he had been restored to his civil and political rights, were symbols of those "good things that were to come" spiritual and eternal salvation which should accrue through the sprinkling of the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. He was thus assured that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord" ( Hebrews 9:14;  Hebrews 12:14). Hence, sanctification is used to designate that state of mind induced by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, thus producing internal and external holiness ( John 3:5;  1 Corinthians 6:11;  Ephesians 5:26;  1 Thessalonians 4:3-4;  1 Thessalonians 4:7). It is true, sanctification is sometimes spoken of as the work of man himself ( Exodus 19:22;  Leviticus 11:44;  Leviticus 20:7-8;  1 Peter 3:15). When a person solemnly and unreservedly gives himself to God, he then may be said to sanctify himself. He is then enabled to believe in Christ with his heart unto righteousness, and God instantly, by the communication of his Holy Spirit, sanctifies the believer. Thus the believer gives himself to God, and God, in return, gives himself to the believer ( Ezekiel 36:25-29;  1 Corinthians 3:16-17;  1 Corinthians 6:19;  2 Corinthians 6:16-18;  Ephesians 2:22). This sanctification, which is received by faith, is the work of God within us.

In a general sense, "sanctification" comprehends the whole Christian life ( Galatians 5:22-23;  1 Peter 1:15-16;  1 Peter 1:22;  Hebrews 12:10;  James 4:8). In  1 Thessalonians 5:23, the apostle prays for the sanctification of the Entire Church in all its various departments. In  1 Corinthians 7:14, it is said, the unbelieving husband, or wife, is "sanctified" that is, to be regarded not as unclean, but as specially claiming the attention of the Christian community. The term "sanctified" is also used in the sense of expiation ( Hebrews 10:10;  Hebrews 10:14;  Hebrews 10:29). See Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctrines, 2, 281, 288, 503; Oosterzee, Christian Dogmatics. (See Holiness).