Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “sanctify” as:
To cleanse from corruption; to purify from sin; to make holy by detaching the affections from the world and its defilements, and exalting them to a supreme love to God.
To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t see many born-again Christians today sanctifying themselves in the same light as Webster’s definition. In fact, I see more Christians today claiming “grace” as if it were a ticket to continue living in their old sin nature.
The two phases of sanctification are quite different from each other. One is not performed by us and the other one is. At the time we are born again, we are sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ and placed into the position of being a child of God (Luke 20:36). This is called positional sanctification. There was nothing we could do to earn our salvation because it was all about Christ paying our penalty and His blood covers all our sin. We are now a member of the family of God.
The sanctification I’m talking about today is setting ourselves apart from the unsaved world. Should we not be acting differently now that we belong to the family of God? Should we not be acting more like we are a member of a new family with a Holy and Righteous God? Now that we are part of the family of God, it is time for us to start acting like we are part of His family. Becoming more Christ-like in our nature by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, is what sanctifies us.
~2 Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
So what are we to purge ourselves from in order to be actively sanctifying ourselves for the Lord?
~Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
~Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
~Luke 13:27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
The only way we can know whether or not we are workers of iniquity is by being in God’s Word. When we read the Word, study it, and then apply it to our lives, we will not desire to continue in the sin that God has just taught us to remove from our lives. For example, if I have a problem with my temper and God’s Word reveals that to me and my heart is under conviction, I will strive to remove that sin from my life. I will ask the Holy Spirit to help me exercise and “ripen” that fruit of patience, mercy and love in my life. These are fruit that are worth bearing. If I do not yield to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, then I will continue to bear the fruit of the world in this area of my life. I love the following verses because they clearly outline what I’m trying to relay to you:
~Ephesians 4:28-32 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Isn’t this great? When we do not grieve the Holy Spirit, we are automatically changed more and more into the likeness of Christ. We become kind to each other, tenderhearted, and we forgive one another, even when our old flesh doesn’t want to. We do it because we do not want to grieve God. Paul finished that statement in verse 32 “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Wow!
God’s Word is totally truth, am I not correct? It is through the Word that we will be sanctified. It is not through a spiritual mentor – a preacher – a good devotional – or even a good tele evangelist. Although all these things are good and may prod you to go to the Word of God, their words in and of themselves are not what purges and sanctifies. It is the Holy Word of God that is powerful!
~John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
~Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
God’s Word will find our hidden sin, will shine a bright light on it and will expose that sin to the believer who wants to grow. The Apostle Paul exhorted the Thessalonians not to quench the Holy Spirit but to submit to the Spirit’s desire to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
~1 Thessalonians 5:19-23 Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So what actions do not quench the Spirit?
- Not despising the preaching of God’s Word – when the Preacher’s words quicken your heart don’t resent it. Instead, acknowledge to God that you’ve heard the Holy Spirit and that you will strive to be rid of this sin in your life.
- Proving all things that you hear by studying God’s Word and not just taking for granted that if a preacher said it, it must be right.
- When we stay away from anything that appears to be sin. How is one to know? Go back to the second bullet – study God’s Word and HE will point out your sin quite clearly.
The born-again Christian who strives to fulfill these verses in Thessalonians every day to be more like his God is a believer who is in the process of sanctifying himself to God.