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Extra material is included here to illustrate some of the divergent view regarding the definition of this word.

H6942 = qâdash = A primitive root; to be (causatively make, pronounce or observe as) clean (ceremonially or morally): - appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, defile, hallow, (be, keep) holy (-er, place), keep, prepare, proclaim, purify, sanctify (-ied one, self), X wholly.

Exo 13:2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

Exo 19:10 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,

There is a sense in which we sanctify ourselves.

Exo 19:22 And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.

Sanctification can apply tp that which we regard.

Isa 8:13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

G37 = hagiazō = From G40; to make holy, that is, (ceremonially) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate: - hallow, be holy, sanctify.

Joh 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

The Old Testament gives a picture of distinguishing between that which is clean and unclean. The New Testament gives a picture of a more internal cleansing accomplished by the word of God.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

We need to appreciate the role Jesus has in this process.

Joh 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

Is our sanctification something we achieve, or something God produces that we risk tarnishing?

1Th 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.

Sanctification becomes a little more defined when seen with other descriptors.

1Co 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

The separation from that which is unclean is not so much a cause than a result.

1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

1Th 4:4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

1Th 4:5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:

G40 = hagios = From ἅγος hagos (an awful thing) compare G53, [H2282]; sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated): - (most) holy (one, thing), saint.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

G3741 = hosios = Of uncertain affinity; properly right (by intrinsic or divine character; thus distinguished from G1342, which refers rather to human statutes and relations; from G2413, which denotes formal consecration; and from G40, which relates to purity from defilement), that is, hallowed (pious, sacred, sure): - holy, mercy, shalt be.

Tit 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

Tit 1:8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy (G3741), temperate;

Tit 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

To what extent do we sanctify ourselves.

2Ti 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.

2Ti 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.

How do we sanctify others?

1Co 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

How is food sanctified?

1Ti 4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

1Ti 4:5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Is sanctification a cause or effect?

Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Eph 4:13 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:

Eph 4:14 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;

Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Eph 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Does sanctification requires us to choose an orientation?

Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Does sanctification require us to chose an environment?

1Th 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

Jas 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.


Sanctification poorly understood.


Joseph is an excellent example of the process of sanctification. Joseph was treated unfairly when his brothers sold him into slavery. He would later end up in prison through no fault of his own. His character was revealed when he refused to blame God and turn bitter while languishing in prison for many years. Joseph was in charge of Potiphar’s house. Potiphar was the Captain of Pharaoh’s Guard. Next to the Pharaoh, this was probably the greatest position of power in all of Egypt. Potiphar trusted Joseph enough to leave him in charge of his entire household (Gen 39:5) and when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, Joseph refused. Potiphar must have had a beautiful wife and this lady had to have had great riches. When she tried to grab Joseph to lie with her, he not only ran but he ran so fast he left his cloak. He left his cloak but kept his character. When fighting temptations to sin, the Christian can do one of two things; fight or flight. That is, we can resist temptation and fight it through prayer or we can take flight. James said when we are tempted we must resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7) but Paul said we must flee from sexual temptation, indicating we shouldn’t just resist but run (1 Cor 6:18)!

Can you imagine how hard it was for Joseph to resist this urge, day after day? This temptation must have gone on for many days, remember, Potiphar‘s wife had to be one of the most beautiful women of Egypt. At times like these, the work of the Holy Spirit is indispensable, able to convict us of things that we know are clearly wrong. Not only did Joseph not want to violate God’s law but he said, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God” (Gen 39:9)? Joseph thought about God when he was tempted and that is sanctification at work. When Joseph refused to give into temptation, he sanctified God’s Name by his doing what was right. When we glorify God in our bodies, we are being sanctified and we glorify God by our decisions to not sin against Him. In this case, Joseph sanctified the name of God, even in private, where there would have been no eyewitnesses. Joseph’s refusal to sin and his fleeing temptation is the perfect model of holiness and it is how we can also avoid sin. This is the process of sanctification. That is exactly the way the Holy Spirit works in us today in sanctifying us. He tells us when something is wrong, and if we are in a compromising situation we should run, just like Joseph did.

- Perhaps a better way of understanding the actions of Joseph is not a super human summoning of strength to resist the compelling beauty of Potifer’s wife. The character of the wife (as demonstrated by her actions) are obvious to one oriented to truth. She can be seen as more ugly than one with a tumor on her face.


Sinless perfectionism may also fall short of understanding sanctification.

John Wesley was the seventeenth century founder of Methodism who formulated the doctrine of entire sanctification from 1739 to 1760. “In public address he used the terms “Christian Perfection,” “Perfect Love,” and “Holiness,” as synonymous, though there are differences between them when examined critically.”[10] The basis of his theory was that after a Christian become a believer by being spiritually reborn and indwelled by the power of the Holy Spirit, at some point after a period of growth in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ there was an instantaneous act of sanctification. Therefore, even though there was gradual growth in sanctification after the believer was justified by God, after a “final, all-surrendering act of faith in Christ, it reaches an instantaneous completion through the act of the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier.”[11] According to Greathouse, the teaching of John Wesley was that this initial work of gradual sanctification may be “cut short in a moment, by faith, when the heart is cleansed from the inward root of sin – pride, self-will, atheism, or idolatry – and perfected in the love of God. As a consequence of this deeper cleansing of the heart the Christian is enabled to grow more normally toward perfected Christ-likeness.”[12]


H2623 = châsı̂yd = From H2616; properly kind, that is, (religiously) pious (a saint): - godly (man), good, holy (one), merciful, saint, [un-] godly.

Psa 50:5 Gather my saints (H2623) together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

H6922 = qaddı̂ysh = (Chaldee); corresponding to H6918: - holy (One), saint.

Dan 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

Is Israel considered the saints (the holy ones)?

1Co 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints (G40) shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

How do we “fashion” ourselves?

1Pe 1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

1Pe 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

1Pe 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Col 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Col 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Col 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Col 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:


Typical views


The Sanctification of a Believer

The sanctification of the believer is in three realms—positional, progressive, and ultimate, reflecting the past, present, and future aspects of salvation. In Romans 8:1-11 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] , Paul notes the reality of positional sanctification as the believer is in union with Christ, having been justified and declared righteous. Then He describes how this sanctification is worked out progressively in the life of the believer who walks according the Spirit. Positional and ultimate sanctification are entirely the work of God. Progressive sanctification requires the cooperation of the believer, who is commanded to be filled with the Spirit.

Positional sanctification – justification. At salvation, believers are justified, declared righteous in conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom. 8: 29 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ). This is entirely a work of God.

Experiential sanctification – spiritual maturity. The goal is Christlikeness, the result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in producing godliness in the life of the believer. In essence, progressive sanctification is becoming in experience what we already are positionally in Christ. The Holy Spirit operates in believers to free them experientially from the power of sin and death. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ).

The progress of sanctification, or spiritual maturity, is marked by conflict, spiritual warfare, because our new life in Christ is on a collision course with the world, is opposed by Satan, and fought by the sinful nature within us. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that produces the tension or conflict in our life. This conflict in the life of a believer, rather than being proof sanctification’s absence, is evidence of its work.

Progressive sanctification is accomplished by the Holy Spirit as the believer is filled with the Holy Spirit as a result of having no unconfessed sin in his or her life. It is an act entirely of God so that the righteous man lives by faith and not by works. However, it involves a choice: “Be ye holy for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:14-16 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ).

Ultimate sanctification – glorification. . The final stage in the salvation process is the ultimate sanctification of the believer—the future glorification of the believer. It is realized at resurrection when the believer will be transformed into the likeness of Christ and presented to the Lord as holy. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is both the promise of and the agency for this future glorification, which includes 1) the redemption of the body, 2) an inheritance undefiled and eternal, and 3) deliverance from the future wrath of God.


The Bible’s Four Types of Sanctification: Getting our Vocabulary Right

September 6, 2012 Lynda O Leave a comment Go to comments

I recently met up with a group of people, and their pastor/teacher, who have a non-standard definition of the overall concept of sanctification – or perhaps a very limited definition. After hearing for so long, within broader evangelicalism, about the different aspects of sanctification, and particularly about progressive sanctification, the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, I was surprised to read the following (from one in this group): “If we are in Christ and He is in us, then we have rested – completely ceased from any and all working and striving for justification and for sanctification. There is no more work to be done.”

On the surface, it appeared as what could be advocating perfection, with the use of the term sanctification in the same phrase as justification. Or at the very least, that the person has the terms and their meanings confused. In follow-up conversation, that individual cited Hebrews 10:10, which is one of the passages that describe the completed (positional) part of sanctification: “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” It turned out that what most Reformed evangelicals refer to as “progressive sanctification” means, to this group, “mortification,” with no understanding of the multiple tenses or types of sanctification. Also, their focus is on whether or not sanctification is “a work” to which we contribute versus something all of God (monergistic: their view): an unusual approach to the topic. Usually (in my experience) the topic of sanctification comes up, not as a question of “a work” or not, but in the general understanding of spiritual growth and an ongoing process, “progressive sanctification,” within which it is understood that God is the one who continues the work within us. (Phil. 1:6)

From further research into what I was really looking for, comes the following helpful summary, from S. Lewis Johnson’s “Basic Bible Doctrine” series, message 27:

Preparatory sanctification: the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to the cross. (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2)

Positional sanctification: a process or a procedure takes place by which a believer, the moment that he believes, becomes in the sight of God holy. That is why believers in the New Testament are called saints. (1 Corinthians 1:2)

Progressive sanctification: something that goes on daily constantly in the Christian life. It may have degrees; The Bible does speak about two degrees: about infants and about adults. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Prospective sanctification: the complete agreement of our position and our practice, and that will take place at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:23-24; Romans 8:29)

This experience also shows how important it is that like-minded Christians understand and use the same vocabulary. When the majority of Christians speak of sanctification in one way (understanding the concepts of positional versus progressive sanctification), and one group (that really does believe basically the same about this) uses the same words to mean different ideas – the positional sanctification and emphasis on “sanctification” already accomplished and done by the Lord, and calling the common term “progressive sanctification” by some other name – it does hinder communication, so that the terms have to be clearly defined before meaningful discussion can occur.