Sanctification: What is it?

Sanctification is a process that we embark upon after we receive Jesus Christ into our lives. It is an essential component of our Christian faith, although we hear very little about it. This is most likely caused by an incorrect assumption that salvation corrects everything in our lives. But here’s a quote I found that sums it up: “Salvation is foundational to the journey, but there is a need for sanctification in between”. Salvation comes first and sanctification afterward. The word “sanctification” is generally interchangeable with consecration, purification and holiness.

Here are a few examples that prove our need for sanctification: the high prevalence of divorce, mental and emotional distress, depression and blatant immorality – all among people who profess Christianity. If salvation and sanctification happened simultaneously, we would not see this occurring. However, it is quite a challenge to distinguish a Christian from a non-Christian based upon these manifestations of behavior. When we accept Jesus Christ into our lives, He saves us and we receive His salvation instantaneously.  But in order to please God and become what He desires (and requires) us to be, we must embark on a journey of sanctification.

Sanctification has at least 3 specific elements: 1.) It is a setting apart for God’s use 2.) It is a process of purifying yourself, ridding yourself of ungodly behaviors 3.) And, it is directing our actions unto the Glory of God. These 3 things bring about transformation.

I hear people often say that they can’t see God in their lives or sense His presence. When that happens, the first question you should ask yourself is, “Am I living a sanctified life?” We serve a holy God who wants His people to also be holy. If you’re not interested in pursuing a sanctified or holy life, why would God be interested in showing you Himself? Without sanctification, your chances of seeing God work powerfully in your life are low. This doesn’t mean He won’t do things for you or use you at all, it just means that He will use others who are living a life set apart for Him to accomplish His highest and best purposes. This is illustrated in 2 Timothy 2:20-21 NLT.

20 In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used [sanctified] for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

For God to use us as vessels, we must be empty, clean and available. Then, He will fill us and use us for His glory. But if we are filled with sin and defiled by ungodliness, He will first have to purge us before He will use us.

Salvation is freely given to all who believe and receive Jesus Christ into their lives. But sanctification is the next step and must be pursued. Sanctification doesn’t make you perfect but it puts you in position to please God and be used by Him.