What is the biblical meaning of “sanctification”
1 Thessalonians 5:23 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.
sanctify = hagiazō
to make holy, that is, (ceremonially) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate: - hallow, be holy, sanctify.
Paul prays the God will make holy completely the believers in Thessalonica. Jesus prays that God will make holy the disciples using his word.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
We get a picture of the active work of God in the life of a Christian bringing him to increasing holiness. This involves cleansing and purifying that encompasses a transition from a flesh (self) filled life to a Spirit filled life. This also pictures a transition from a worldly life to one that is "unspotted" by the world.
When considering the Christian life it can be advantageous to consider what things God does and what things we have responsibility for. Consider the words of Peter to those who are about to undergo persecution.
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready
always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the
hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
There is an act of sanctification that we can continue in that can gird us for difficulties. If we keep a view of God as holy and righteous in our hearts, it can sustain us when we might otherwise be tempted to surrender to dark forces of persecution.
It can also be helpful to consider those things we do that hinder the work of God in sanctifying us.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not
fulfil the lust of the flesh.
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the
friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will
be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
It is also interesting to note the utility of truth in the work of sanctification. When the cold light of truth is upon us, who can boast or show pride? Truth can only produce in us humility. This in turn opens the door to God's grace.
James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth
the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
There is a judicial sanctification of position that we have because of our new life in Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not
inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor
idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves
with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor
revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 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
However, it is for us to participate in an experiential process of sanctification that we should be experiencing as a result of being made more like Jesus.
Ephesians 4:11-15 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and
some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the
perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the
edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the
faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we
henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about
with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning
craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the
truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head,