Sanctified or Not? Two Kinds of Sanctification – Online Bible Lessons
Sanctified and Justified! Are We? Grace says you are, religion says you aren’t. Today we will look into the bible and see what God has to say about it. We’re going to see there are two kinds of sanctification. One for salvation which you have already obtained, and another for behavior which is ongoing as we discover our newness in Christ.
Over the years Christians have debated this matter. We here are Jesus Without Religion believe that we have been justified and we have been sanctified, past tense, but religion would argue the idea that it’s more like we are judicially justified and progressively in a process of being sanctified.
First, let’s talk about the word sanctification. This word simply means to be holy, which at its core means to be set apart for a specific purpose. Religion looks at these words sanctified and holy as behavioral words, and while there are occurrences in the bible that call us to be holy in our behavior, this is very different than who we are in Christ, and as you’re about to see, you are holy, set aside, right now, and it’s not about behavior, it’s about your identity. So the problem with religion is if this is seen as a matter of behavior then there’s no way they we can agree that we are holy, because we all still struggle with sin.
We all might have our destination of heaven figured out, and our salvation figured out, and we’re feeling safe, but we all know that as humans with emotions bouncing all over the place we can be quick to struggle with okayness. So then the theologians come to the surface with sermons and books telling us we are just positionally forgiven and our actual sanctification doesn’t really happen until we die and enter heaven. What this causes is even more bondage because this view would lead us to believe that we are still not okay with God and that our sins are still separating us from Him, and so we get right back on that religious tread mill of trying to do more so we can satisfy God through our behavior, and we’re trying to get ourselves 70% sanctified or as much as we can.
The most commonly taught idea is that we, as Christians have been justified, but as people we are progressively being sanctified. What we’re going to see today is that’s not what the bible says. By the way, let’s say for the moment you’re not holy. Why would God ask you to behave in a way that’s not consistent with who you really are? Do you see the problem there? Now on the other hand, if you are holy then it makes perfect sense for God to call you to be what He has made you, and that is a new creation in Christ, holy, sanctified, and fully justified.
The biblical view is that we, as people have already been fully sanctified (set apart), and while we are growing daily and our behavior is continually being sanctified (set apart) as we grow in Christ, the fact is we are not defined by our behavior. I know, I said it, and that really upsets a lot of religious people. But our holiness, and being sanctified, or being set apart doesn’t come from us or our behavior, but rather it all comes from Christ. I want you to see that if you think you’re in a human behavior process of being made right with God then you’ll struggle more because you don’t believe it’s who you are now, but when you believe God when says you are these things then you begin to find it easier to live out your new identity. So it’s not about this fake it until you make theology, but rather God deeply desires our outside actions to match our inside identity, which is where Christ lives.
Okay, enough of my opinion, let’s do a survey of the bible and let scripture do the talking. First let’s journey over to Acts 26 and discover what Paul says he has heard from God.
[Acts 26:18] to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
So Paul is saying God has told me to write you to get your eyes opened so you’ll turn from sin and basically they’ll then be transferred from darkness into light, and then he says they’ll receive forgiveness of sins, but we can’t stop there because something else simultaneously happens, and that is he said they receive the inheritance along with those who HAVE BEEN (past tense) sanctified by faith. Now let’s not over look how they got sanctified. Were they sanctified by their behavior? No, this verse says were sanctified by their faith, and it was immediate. That means it’s not about you and your track record. It’s about Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul is writing the Greeks and we see his opening remarks. Before I read the verses let’s be honest, if you’ve studied the bible and read this letter then you all know the story. If anyone ever had some jacked up behavior it was the Corinthians. It’s like Vegas on Steroids. We’re talking about hard core immorality. They have come to the understanding that they have total freedom in Christ and whatever they do won’t change who they are in Christ, and unfortunately they have pushed their freedom as far as they could, and Paul knows all of this, and check how he still opens his letter to them.
[1 Corinthians 1:2] To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
So Paul sees these people rolling in sin, and of course the religious people would hold back and say don’t go telling them they are sanctified, and certainly don’t tell them they are saints. But Paul understands something that legalism doesn’t. Paul knows that these beautiful attributes come from Christ and not what we do, either good or bad. Paul would say “I know what they are doing is bad” but “I also know who they ARE in Christ, apart from works, apart from law”. Again, it’s all about Jesus, and as we just read this verse again speaks in past tense, not progressive, because it again says they have been sanctified. Who gets all the glory here? Jesus does.
Let’s advance a few chapters and we see Paul, knowing that they were all once dead in Adam living in sin, have now been made alive in Christ , and even though they are STILL messing up big time and he’s concerned about their behavior, how does he describe who they are? Are they dirty sinners? Backsliders? Unworthy? Let’s see.
[1 Corinthians 6:11] Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
So we see it’s all past tense. You WERE washed. You WERE sanctified. You WERE justified. So why is it that when this message is taught that we get so much resistance? It’s because those that resist it have not yet fully understood that our sanctification and righteousness is not about behavior, but rather it comes from Christ, through faith. They think if we say we are sanctified, holy, and justified that we must think that growing in our behavior isn’t important. They think it means we don’t care about what we do. And it’s true, just like we see in Corinth, sometimes this freedom in Christ is taken advantage of, but even still we are sanctified through faith, not works based religion or less sin.
Let’s move over to Ephesians 5 and see why Jesus died for us. Now I want you to remember that you are the church, and it’s not a bunch of bricks and a building.
[Ephesians 5:25-27] Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
So Christ died to sanctify the church. He died so we’d have no spot or wrinkle and that we’d be presented holy and blameless. This is not something that happens after we die. Through faith the blood of Christ has already, past tense, sanctified us and we are holy and blameless even when we screw up and act like the Corinthians. Is behavior is important? Of course. But does it affect our holiness, and sanctification? No, not even a little.
Next we look at Hebrews 10
[Hebrews 10:9-10] then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
The picture here is that the new covenant did something the old never did. In the old it was about human performance and law keeping. In the new it’s about Jesus, and by this will we have been (past tense) sanctified. And did this verse say we were sanctified by our behavior? No, it says we were sanctified though the offering of Jesus. Again, it’s all about Him. You don’t get to pound your chest and say “look at how good I’m doing”.
Now we’d be stupid to not think that our behavior wasn’t important, especially knowing that God has made us new. So let’s wrap up with some thoughts on how this word sanctification is used in other verses as it pertains to behavior, and we’ll see it’s a different kind of sanctification and that it’s not about believers needing more okayness with God. Through Christ we have been sanctified (set apart) but there’s a second, totally separate kind of sanctification, and that’s our behavior, which is being set apart (progressively), day by day as we grow in Christ. Two different kinds of sanctification, and if we get this we begin to understand the truth about who are in Christ.
[1 Thessalonians 4:3] For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;
In other words God wants your behavior to match who you are.
[1 Thessalonians 5:22-24] abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
So yes, God is calling us to abstain from every form of evil, and we agree sin of all kinds stinks, and we’re not made for it. And this idea of being totally forgiven and sanctified in no way implies that God doesn’t care about what we do. He deeply cares. But not because it can help sanctify us more, but rather because He loves us and sin never fulfills, and it will only let us down every time.
So what do we see today? This misunderstanding of sanctification comes from people combing two types of biblical sanctification. It comes from not realizing that the bible clearly says we, as believers have been sanctified, past tense, but our behavior is continually being set apart as we discover who we are and learn to live out our new identities.
You, the believer have been set apart for Christ, sealed to the day of redemption. Holy. Acceptable. Sanctified. Justified. Not by behavior, but through faith in Jesus. You, as a person are still learning who you are and your behavior is progressively begin sanctified.
So in closing. You have already been sanctified. You have been set apart for Christ. Past tense. Done.
You, as a human are working daily on your behavior.
Your behavior doesn’t change your identity, because your identity come from Christ alone.
God bless you.