Sanctification is “the separation of the believer from evil things and ways” (Vine’s). The verb “sanctify” refers to “the setting apart of the believer for God” (Vine’s), “to separate from things profane and dedicate to God” (Thayer). Sanctification could be rendered holification. Sanctify could be rendered holify.
Several things are involved in the sanctification of a saint. Let’s notice…
Hebrews 9:13-14, “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
The argument is from the lesser to the greater. If animal sacrifices could purify a ceremonially unclean person (e.g. Numbers 19:2-12), how much more the blood of Christ do! His blood can cleanse our conscience of dead works. “Dead works” refers to sin (Hebrews 6:1 cf. 9:14) leading to death (Romans 6:16, James 1:15). The “conscience” refers to the recurring remembrance of sin on the day of atonement (Hebrews 1:3; 9:9; 9:14 cf. 10:1-3). Christ did not provide a temporary remedy for sin. He didn’t just cover it. He removed it.
He offered Himself by the eternal spirit. This may mean: (1) According to the eternal aim/purpose (cf. Ephesians 3:10-11 cf. Philippians 1:27). (2) According to His eternal spirit. That is, His divinity. (3) According to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. Nehemiah 9:30; Mark 12:36, etc.).
Hebrews 10:9-10, “’Behold, I have come to do Your will O God’… By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Jesus accomplished what bulls and goats could not. The blood of bulls and goats did not offer a permanent remedy for man’s sin problem (Hebrews 10:3-4 cf. Leviticus 16:11-15). It took the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:7, 12, 24-26).
Christians have been cleansed. Their hearts have been sprinkled from an evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22 cf. 9:13, 19, 21; 11:28; 12:24). Their bodies have been washed in pure water. That is, purifying water (cf. beautiful feet, Romans 10:15; not called beautiful for the beauty of the feet themselves, but beautiful for what the feet accomplish. Even so here, water purifies Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:26). Remember that the Jordan river was not the purest of waters. Yet, it was used to baptize.
Hebrews 10:28-29, “Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy why has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing…”
Forsaking the assembly shows disrespect for the blood by which we are sanctified. Judgment is coming. “The LORD will judge His people” (Hebrews 10:30).
Hebrews 13:11-12, “For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.”
There is a type- antitype picture. Sin offerings of old were offered outside the city or camp (Exodus 29:14; Leviticus 4:11, 12, 21; 9:11; 16:27; Numbers 19:3). Even so, Jesus was offered outside the city gates for our sanctification.
John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your word. Your word is truth.”
Jesus is praying to the Father. His prayer concerns the disciples. He did not pray that they be removed from this world. Instead, He prayed that they be kept from the evil one, sanctified by God’s word (John 17:14-15, 17-19). Guy Wood commented, “The people of God are sanctified, consecrated, dedicated to his service through obedience to the truth which has in it all that is necessary to enable them to live sober, righteously, and godly in this present world” (A Commentary on the Gospel According to John, p. 361).
John 17:19, “And for their sake I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
Jesus’ life (and death) allows us to be sanctified. Guy Woods commented, “The word ‘sanctify’ means to be set apart for holy purposes; to consecrate; the Lord’s entire life on earth involved just such consecration and dedication and he was now approaching the hour when he would make the supreme consecration – death on the cross; he would ask of the disciples no more than he would do himself; and thus his action became both an example and motivation for them. Wonderful though this was, it did not take the place and the need for sanctification of the apostles… The sanctification of our Lord provides an example for us but not a substitute; he still requires that his followers sanctify themselves in body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23), and live godly lives on earth” (ibid, p. 362).
Acts 26:16-28, “…I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness… to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
Jesus has plans for Saul. He is sending him to the Gentiles. His mission: (1) Open their eyes. Help them see the truth (cf. Psalm 119:105; Luke 24:25-27 cf. 24:32). (2) Turn them from darkness to light, from Satan to God (cf. Colossians 1:13). That is, help them receive the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 2:38), and an inheritance in heaven (cf. 1 Peter 1:4).
Man is sanctified by faith (literally The Faith, The System of Faith) in Jesus. All spiritual blessings are found in Him (Ephesians 1:3; 1:7; 1:11).
Ephesians 5:26, “He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.”
The word “washing” is connected with water (Ephesians 5:26; Hebrews 10:22-23). It is connected with baptism (Acts 22:16). It is connected with the removing of sin (Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11). The reference is to the sanctification of the church which was accomplished by baptism according to the word (Mark 16:15-16).
Man is also sanctified by the Spirit (Romans 5:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:1-2). We will consider these passages next time.
The issue is not: Does the Holy Spirit convert and sanctify? The issue is: How does the Holy Spirit convert and sanctify? It needs to be emphasized (regardless of one’s view on how the Holy Spirit indwells) the Holy Spirit does not sanctify man with irresistible force (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).