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Does sanctification require effort on part of the believer, God, or both combined? If on part of the believer, then who provides motivation for sanctification, God or self?

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closed as not constructive by Alypius, fredsbend, MaskedPlant, warren, Affable Geek Apr 8 '13 at 21:46

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

It depends on who you ask. Are you looking for an answer from a particular tradition? – Bruce Alderman Mar 3 '13 at 2:10
I am looking for answers either from tradition or one's own thoughts. – AlexHeuman Mar 3 '13 at 2:34
Note that answers from "one's own thoughts are absolutely not within the site guidelines.… But +1 because this is a good question otherwise. – David Mar 3 '13 at 3:16
@AlexHeuman just to fill you in a bit here. We strongly prefer if people who ask questions specify some kind of doctrinal preference. That way the answers can be tailored to the person asking the question. Otherwise your leaving yourself open from answers from anywhere. Because ultimately as Bruce said, the answer to this depends on who you ask. We don't really do all that well with questions about truth. If you'd like to ask for Biblical backing for a subject we can do that OK. but if you want to know the facts, that's rolling the dice and depending on the day and mod viewing may get closed. – wax eagle Mar 3 '13 at 3:44
This question is very problematic. This is a well-known point of disagreement, and the potential for misrepresenting opposing views is too great. We do not want individual answers according to tradition because this encourages a voting contest (Catholics would eventually "win"). – Alypius Apr 8 '13 at 18:30

Sanctification is a word that has multiple meanings within Christianity. To answer your question we need to examine the definitions, and the teachings of the various groups.

  • One definition (the more "ordinary" one) of Sanctify is "to set apart". A person or object can be sanctified (set apart) for a particular purpose.


Sanctification, or in its verbal form, sanctify, literally means "to set apart" for special use or purpose, that is, to make holy or sacred. Therefore, sanctification refers to the state or process of being set apart, i.e. made holy. In systematic theology, the term often carries a technical meaning that differs from the biblical word group

In this sense, a person is sanctified by God without effort on the part of the believer. God chooses whom He sets apart.It is solely the work of God.

The above definition often leads people to get confused, which leads them to mistake Justification to Sanctification. Justification is, in Protestant denominations, the instant where we are saved by Grace, and are "made right" by God. It is instant and also solely the work of God.

  • The next, commonly held Protestant definition of Sanctification makes the distinction more clear. It's a more precise theological definition. If I'm reading your question correctly, I believe that this is the sense of the word you are asking about, and the answer you're looking for is found at

Sanctification is the process of being set apart for God's work and being conformed to the image of Christ. This conforming to Christ involves the work of the person. But it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly character and life in the person who has already been justified (Phil. 2:13). Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone. The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God's will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more godly (Gal. 5:22-23). Significantly, sanctification has no bearing on justification. That is, even if we don't live a perfect life, we are still justified.

  • Finally, there is the Catholic teaching on Sanctification, which is a bit long to summarize in this answer, but you can review an article from the Catholic Encyclopedia article here:
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You should make it clear that the bottom quote comes from the CARM source above it, and not the Catholic source below it. – Alypius Apr 8 '13 at 18:22

Sanctification is an on-going process in the believer's life. From the perspective of God, it has already happened - it is so certain, there can be no doubt.

From our perspective, it is ongoing: we are to continue to

"work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Phil 2).

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