This is blog #7 in “The Gospel” series that covers what Jesus Christ accomplished completely for us through His death and resurrection. We are looking at specific words describing what God did to cure our fatal sin disease. In this blog, we will examine what sanctification is and why it is part of our identity in Christ.
Listen to this blog as a podcast:
Reviewing what we already covered
Because of what Christ accomplished on the cross for us, everyone who puts their faith in Him has a completely revitalized relationship with God. It is much more than having your sins forgiven and going to heaven when you die. What has happened to you is described by 6 terms sometimes called the “words of the cross” representing what Jesus Christ accomplished completely for you and for me through His death on the cross.
You need to know these 6 “words of the cross” because they are in your Bible. If you stumble over them, you are going to miss the riches of understanding your salvation. When you read them, you need to know what they mean because they are so important to your experiencing a life of freedom and joy in Christ. They are gifts of the cross for you and me. God took the ugliness of the cross and made it beautiful for us.
Because of His great love for people, God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross. Word of the Cross #1 is Propitiation. His anger against sin was satisfied. He is no longer angry at you, dear believer, because of your sin. Word of the Cross #2 is Reconciliation. You can dwell on the fact that the barrier of sin has been taken away. Your relationship with God is restored and no longer broken. Word of the Cross #3 is Redemption. You have been purchased out of bondage and released into freedom from any entrapping sin and to serve God in obedience. Word of the Cross #4 is Forgiveness. Your sin was transferred to Jesus Christ and taken away from you so that you are now completely forgiven and no longer burdened by your sin and guilt. Word of the Cross #5 is Justification. You are declared not guilty and even righteous in God’s sight.
Word of the Cross #6 is Sanctification. It means to be “set apart as God’s holy possession for His exclusive use.”
I was once an up-tight perfectionist. My thinking was this: if I were good enough, not only would my parents love me but even God would love me and be pleased with me. That sounded like a great strategy. One big problem, though. I couldn’t keep that goodness up all the time. No one can be good enough on her own to please God 100% of the time from birth to grave in order to earn His love and acceptance. The Bible says, “there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12). From God’s perspective, my self-image was tied to a losing cause.
God is the ultimate perfectionist. He determines what He considers good. Not me. Not you. None of our little checklists measure up. There’s good news for all of us who think we can be good enough on our own to please God and earn His love and acceptance. Give it up! Yep. Stop it! The only human who was ever good enough for God was His Son, Jesus.
When Jesus entered my life, He showed me a new way to look at myself—through what He did for me on the cross. When my eyes stopped looking at me and my flaws and started looking at Him and my value in His sight, that burden of performance and perfectionism just rolled off my shoulders. It was the greatest relief I ever felt!
Through my faith in Christ, God looks upon me as already perfect, as flawless as the most perfect diamond. The Bible calls this Sanctification.
What is sanctification?
Like propitiation (word #1), sanctification is a word we don’t use in our daily vocabulary. To be sanctified means to be made holy. To be “holy” means to be “set apart from sin.” Because the two words—sanctified and holy—are so closely connected, they are used interchangeably in our English translations. They mean the same thing, though.
God demands that we be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). But, here’s the best news: God makes us holy in His sight by our faith in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:10). His love chooses to do that for us. It absolutely amazes me that God looks upon me and calls me holy in His sight. Doesn’t that amaze you?
But, sanctification is more than just having a different status before God. We have a different purpose as well. Every believer has been set apart as God’s special, beloved possession for His exclusive use. To be set apart for special use is like using fine china and silverware for special occasions. It is the opposite of ordinary and common. Dear Christian, you are God’s special, beloved possession—called by Him to be dedicated to His service. You have a valuable purpose. How sweet is that!
And, you have a new title—saint.
God declares you His saint.
Sanctified ones are called “saints” and “holy people” in the New Testament, depending on the translation. You can see how Paul described the believers in the first couple of verses of most of his letters (Romans 1:7, 2 Corinthians 1:1, and Ephesians 1:1). Translators use various English words to represent Paul’s intended meaning, usually “saints,” “holy ones” or “holy people.” All of those are translating a derivative of the Greek word hagios, meaning “set apart or separated” from sin and dedicated to God.
All believers are called “holy ones” based on their faith in Jesus Christ. You as a saint are identified by position, what God declares to be true about you. Every believer is one of God’s saints, totally loved and accepted by Him. You are considered a saint of God by His declaration, not because of your behavior. Although some influential Christians have been titled “Saint” through the years as an honor for their service to God, this is no way negates the truth that every believer is a saint in God’s eyes.
You’ve been redeemed, reconciled to God, forgiven, justified and completely accepted by God because of what Jesus has already done for you on the cross. And, every believer is clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27). When God looks on you and me, He sees Jesus and His righteousness, not all of our faults. It is an amazing plan that is totally based on His grace toward us, not anything we have earned by our own efforts. All of that contributes to God declaring you holy as one of His saints by faith in Jesus Christ. That is your status before God.
Perfected…no longer flawed in His sight.
You are also “being made holy” in your thoughts, words, and actions by the work of the Holy Spirit. This is ongoing from the moment of salvation until the Lord comes or you die, when your “being made holy” is complete (Philippians 1:6). The Holy Spirit transforms us into the likeness of Christ so that we become in thought and behavior what we are in status—holy as God is holy.
We also see this at the end of 2 Corinthians 6 into the first verse of chapter 7.
“Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
We have choices to make that reflect our desire to set ourselves apart from sin and to God’s purposes for us. That includes when you care for your household, are a parent or grandparent to children, work for an employer, interact with people around you, and spend your leisure time.
Because you’ve trusted in Christ and are now found in Him, you can know and live with confidence that you are set apart by God, for God. In His sight, you are perfected…no longer flawed. Your behavior matches this status when you submit to the Spirit’s work to intentionally separate you from what God calls sin and then commit yourself to being used for His purposes throughout your everyday life. It was totally God’s work to make sinners acceptable again in His sight. Your proper response is one of love for God and gratitude as you live dependently on Him and let Him work in your life.
Your status before God because of your faith is perfected…no longer flawed in His sight. That’s another gift of the cross to you. How does that make you feel? Embrace it. Dance! Shout! Sing! As Paul wrote in Colossians 3:12, you are dearly loved!
In a way, in spite of the power and importance of those six words of the cross that we have just studied, it can be said that they all have been accomplished to make the seventh great word possible: “Regeneration,” the restoration of spiritual life. It’s the word of the resurrection and the next blog in this series.
Let Jesus satisfy your heart with His finished work on the cross. Then, live in the freedom of your new life in Him.
Go to the “word of the resurrection”: Regeneration.
- The Gospel: God’s Cure for Our Fatal Sin Disease
- Propitiation: Satisfied…No Longer Angry at You
- Reconciliation: Relationship Restored…No Longer Broken
- Redemption: Released…No Longer in Bondage
- Forgiven…No Longer Burdened by Guilt
- Justification: Righteous…No Longer Guilty
- Sanctification: Perfected…No Longer Flawed
- Regeneration: Made Alive…No Longer Dead
- God Makes Ugly Beautiful
- Resurrection…What Does It Really Mean?
- Satisfied Series 12 Podcasts (The Gospel series)
- Graceful Living Bible Study
- Pathways to a Joyful Walk Bible Study
- Heartbreak to Hope Bible Study (Mark)
- Graceful Living Today daily devotional
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