Becoming sanctified (Part 2 messing with holiness)

sanctifiedIn the last article (Messing with Holiness part 1) we discussed what holiness is and what it means to be sanctified. One important conclusion we came to was that being holy doesn’t mean being sinless.

Very soon though,  you will come across those who tell you that you are now in the process of becoming sanctified. Some will even tell you that the Holy Spirit has been given you to keep the moral law or Ten Commandments.

Firstly though, let’s establish what the Bible says about your sanctification, sainthood and holiness.

How are we made holy?

How are you made holy? You are made holy by the work of the cross when you believe. 

Acts 26:18 “To 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.”

This faith in Jesus is what sets you apart to God and makes you a saint. You are cleaned up and sanctified ( past tense).

1 Corinthians 6:11 “And 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.”

It is not what you do that makes you holy it is simple faith in the work of the cross: it is the body and blood of Jesus that makes us holy not your body or blood.

Hebrews 10:10 “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Hebrews 13:12 “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.”

Consequently, its not what you do that makes you holy – it’s what you believe; who you believe in!

Jesus achieved holiness for us

This means that the cross of Jesus has achieved holiness for us. It’s not something we achieve by our efforts. Jesus himself is our holiness!

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

Is this holiness temporary until the next time we mess up? No we have been perfected for ever! Yes you heard it – for ever!

Hebrews 10:14 “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

Being a saint or holy one therefore, does not await your death and a decision from the Pope. Sainthood is yours now!

Even the Corthinthian believers, who were certainly not sinless in their behaviour, are called holy and saints, further underscoring  that sainthood is NOT based on performance.

1 Corinthians 1:2 “Unto 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:”

I mean, they were hardly glowing candidates for sainthood – with scandal rivalling the Roman Catholic church today! Yet, Paul indeed calls them saints: God’s chosen ones.

Is sanctification a process?

Doesn’t the above scripture though (1 Corinthians 1:2), indicate that sanctification is a process? In other words we are called to be saints, in other words we sort of are but are not quite! A better translation however – as in the ASV –  is:  “saints by calling”.  So this verse is not in fact saying we are becoming holy!

Let me ask you a question. From all the scriptures quoted so far, if you believe in Jesus, are you holy? If you answer: “well I’m trying to be or I hope”,  so then please read them again!

What about this scripture though you might ask?

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

I like what Graham Cooke says about this one: “we read it as a command but actually it’s a benediction”. In other words, the one who called you is different and special so you be different and special also.

The fact is, you are as holy as you will ever be: An oak tree sapling is as much an oak tree as an oak tree 100 years old. The difference between them is maturity and fruit. The difference between a believer who has known the Lord 5 minutes and 5 years is fruitfulness and maturity.

Holy matrimony

I mean, wouldn’t it be ridiculous to tell a married couple that they need to be more married! Marriage by its very nature is holy – a couple are set apart ‘wholly’ for one another. That doesn’t mean they have a perfect marriage but hopefully they will learn to grow together and love one another. In fact, love and holiness are very close relations!

Ephesians 1:4 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”

Furthermore, Paul uses this picture of holy matrimony  to illustrates the relationship of Jesus to his precious bride the church.

Ephesians 5:6 “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word”

Ephesians 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.

As we can see from the above scriptures, the church is in the process of being cleansed and prepared for her wedding day. She’s at the spa having a leg wax and massage. It similar to the process Esther went through in order to be a Queen:

Esther 2:12 “Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)”

Does this mean then, because Esther went through all these beauty treatments, that she wasn’t beautiful? Of course not, but she ended up not just beautiful but stunning – fit for a king.

Unfortunately, this is not how many  holiness preachers see the church or individuals, with their constant calls to repentance and holiness. It’s as if they think that the church is Cinderella and needs constant abuse? Maybe that’s because they are the ugly sisters! Seriously though, what they are in effect saying is:  “church you look disgusting,  get cleaned up!”

Grace preachers on the other hand,  see the church as beautiful and holy already but maybe in need of a little leg wax and a special hairdo! Holiness and beauty then are also close relations!

Psalm 29:2 “The beauty of holiness! Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”

Do we have any part to play?

Now, just in case you tempted to think that I am saying that we have no part to play and it doesn’t matter how we respond  –  nothing could be further from the truth!

Titus 2:11 “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”

Grace therefore teaches us to deny ungodliness and resist evil. God can’t do that for us. In other words, we don’t have to live like the rest of the common unsaved folk around us because we are already special different and royalty! We get to choose! We get to act!

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself  a peculiar people,  zealous of good works. 

James says:

James 1:27 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

1 Thess 5:22  “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

Peter encourages us because we are different (strangers and pilgrims) we should abstain from fleshly lusts ( probably sexual in nature)

1 Peter 2:11 “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;”

Paul also tells us to live sexually pure:

“For this  is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:” 

1 Thessalonians 4:7 “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

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

Consequently, as believers when we learn to obey God, walking in the spirt and believing his word, then godliness and holiness are produced in our lives as a fruit.

Romans 6:19 “I 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 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Romans 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.”

In addition, as I have explained in another article, the work of the Holy Spirt in our lives will mean we will want to separate ourselves from situations that contaminate and defile us. If I’m wearing an expensive suit I won’t be going rock climbing!  If I was a freemason before getting saved,  then I should break free from that ungodly partnership – it is not appropriate.

2 Corinthians 7:1 “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

In conclusion therefore, our sanctification and holiness are a ‘done deal’ but how we live is important.  As Peter says we once lived one way but now we have a holy calling and we no longer find it necessary to float down stream – we are swimming against the tide!

1 Peter 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:


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Further reading:

Messing with holiness part 1

Raising the bar on holiness

Gardening and holiness

What is holiness?

True holiness

2 Corinthians 7:1

The dangers of the holiness movement

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Christ the End of Law
Christ in you the hope of glory

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