Sanctification

Concise Bible Dictionary:

This term is from qadesh, ἁγιάζω “to set apart to sacred purposes, consecrate.” It has various applications in the Old Testament as to days: God sanctified the seventh day on which He rested; it was afterward to be kept holy by the Israelites (Gen. 2:33And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. (Genesis 2:3); Ex. 20:88Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)). As to persons, the whole of the Israelites were sanctified to God (Ex. 19:10,1410And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, (Exodus 19:10)
14And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. (Exodus 19:14)
). The firstborn were further sanctified to God, to be redeemed by the Levites (Ex. 13:22Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. (Exodus 13:2)). The priests and Levites were sanctified to the service of God. As to the place and vessels of divine service, the tabernacle and temple, and all the vessels used therein, were devoted to sacred use in the worship of God (Ex. 30:2929And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. (Exodus 30:29)). We have thus what was suitable in view of God: there was also what was obligatory on the part of those that approached.
In the New Testament sanctification has many applications.
1. The thought is twice expressed by the Lord Jesus as to Himself. He spoke of Himself as one “whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world” (John 10:3636Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? (John 10:36)). He was set apart by the Father for the accomplishment of the purposes of His will. In His prayer for His disciples in John 17 the Lord also says, “For their sakes I sanctify myself.” He set Himself apart in heaven from rights that belonged to Him as man, that His own might be sanctified by the truth. He was sanctified on earth for the Father, He has sanctified Himself in heaven for the saints.
2. Believers are said to be “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Rom. 15:1616That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:16); 1 Cor. 1:22Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (1 Corinthians 1:2); Heb. 10:1010By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10)). They are thus saints, “sanctified ones” before God, apart from the life of flesh, a class of persons set apart to God for priestly service (Acts 20:3232And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. (Acts 20:32); Acts 26:1818To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18); Rom. 1:77To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7); etc.). In this there is no progress; in effect it implies the most intimate identification with Christ. Such are His brethren. “He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one” (Heb. 2:1111For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, (Hebrews 2:11)): the sanctified are “perfected forever” by one offering (Heb. 10:1414For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)).
4. Sanctification appears to refer to change of association, for the possibility is contemplated of some who had been sanctified treading under foot the Son of God, and treating the blood of the covenant as an unholy or common thing, thus becoming apostates from Christ, and departing from the association in which they had been sanctified (Heb. 10:2929Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29)).
5. In the existing mixed and corrupt state of Christendom (viewed as a great house, in which are vessels, some to honor and some to dishonor), the obligation to sanctification from evil within the sphere of profession has become obligatory in order that a man may be “a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:2121If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:21)).
6. An unbelieving husband or wife is said to be sanctified in the believing partner, and their children are holy (ἅγιος). They can thus dwell together in peace, instead of having to separate from an unbelieving partner, as in Old Testament times (1 Cor. 7:1414For 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. (1 Corinthians 7:14); compare Ezra 9-10).
7. Food is “sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” Hence “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4-54For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4‑5)). This is altogether opposed to restrictions prescribed by the law, or which man may impose on the use of what God in His goodness has created for man’s use.

From Anstey’s Doctrinal Definitions:

This term means “to make sacred by being set apart.” It can be applied to:
In connection with persons, there are three main aspects in the New Testament. These are:
1) Absolute Or Positional Sanctification
This aspect is the result of a work of God done in the believer through new birth (1 Cor. 6:1111And 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 our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11); 2 Thess. 2:1313But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (2 Thessalonians 2:13); 1 Peter 1:22Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2)) and for the believer through being justified by faith in Christ (Acts 20:32; 26:1832And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. (Acts 20:32)
18To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)
; Rom. 1:11Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Romans 1:1); 1 Cor. 1:2, 302Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (1 Corinthians 1:2)
30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Corinthians 1:30)
; Heb. 10:10, 14; 13:1210By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10)
14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)
12Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. (Hebrews 13:12)
; Rev. 22:1111He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:11)). As a result, the believer, who was once among the mass of unsaved persons heading for a lost eternity, has been set apart in a new place before God. This aspect of sanctification is a one-time thing in a believer's life. Every Christian has been sanctified in this positional sense—regardless of what state his or her practical life may be in.
2) Progressive Or Practical Sanctification
This aspect is a result of the believer being exercised about his moral and spiritual state and seeking by the grace of God to perfect holiness in his life practically. See John 17:1717Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17); Romans 6:1919I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. (Romans 6:19) ("holiness"); 2 Corinthians 7:11Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1) ("holiness"); 1 Thessalonians 4:4-7; 5:234That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; 5Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. (1 Thessalonians 4:4‑7)
23And 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. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
; Ephesians 5:26-2726That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That 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. (Ephesians 5:26‑27), and Hebrews 12:1414Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14) ("holiness"). This aspect of sanctification is to be an on-going, daily exercise in the believer's life.
3) Relative or Provisional Sanctification
This aspect has to do with persons being set in a clean place on earth through separation, without necessarily having an inward work of faith in their soul.
In the case of a marriage where one partner is saved and the other is not, the unbelieving one is “sanctified” in a relative sense by his or her association with the believing partner who is sanctified (1 Cor. 7:1414For 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. (1 Corinthians 7:14)). It does not mean that the unbeliever is thereby saved, but that he is in a place of holy privilege.
The Apostle Paul also refers to a person purging himself from the confusion that has come into God’s house (Christendom) by “separating himself” from it, and thus being “sanctified” in this relative sense (2 Tim. 2:1919Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Timothy 2:19)).
Relative sanctification is also seen in Hebrews 10:2929Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29). The Jews who professed faith in Christ in that day had thereby taken Christian ground and thus had been “sanctified” in a relative sense by Christ’s blood. Again, being in this sanctified place does not necessarily mean that they were saved. The writer of the epistle warns them that if they abandoned that position and went back to Judaism, they would prove to be apostates, and there would be nothing but judgment waiting for them (Heb. 10:30-3130For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30‑31)).
The Lord Himself was also "sanctified" in this relative sense. He was set apart to come into the world for the purpose of accomplishing the will of God (John 10:3636Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? (John 10:36)). He also set Himself apart in leaving this world and going back to the Father (John 17:1919And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (John 17:19)).
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J. N. Darby warned of the danger of over-emphasizing the practical side of sanctification, stating that it could be taken by some that a person can make himself acceptable to God in his natural state by cleaning up his life. He pointed out that if the primary setting apart of persons to God through absolute sanctification is not held, sanctification becomes a mere gradual fitting of man in his natural state for his acceptance before God—which, of course, cannot be done (Collected Writings, vol. 10, p. 78). Notwithstanding, this is exactly what has happened in the history of the Church. Many ignorant souls down through the years have tried to better themselves through law-keeping and asceticism in hopes of making themselves acceptable to God. Such an idea does not see the flesh as being irreparably bad and essentially ignores the need for new birth. Therefore, there needs to be balance in Christian ministry in presenting the truth of sanctification, and thus guarding against erroneous assumptions, such as the one Mr. Darby mentioned. In fact, Scripture actually refers to sanctification in its positional sense more often than the practical and relative senses.