What Does Sanctification Really Mean?
“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
“Yeah, you’re saved by grace but you still have to sanctify yourself! You will keep changing through sanctification!”
At first glance this statement would seem to be fine, minus the exclamation points. The problem is, Christians do not change. We’ve been changed–past tense–and we are only sanctified once.
Most of us simply don’t realize there are two types of sanctification. Separating the two brings us peace of mind because we won’t confuse our who with our do:
- Sanctification of identity (happens once)
- Sanctification of actions and attitudes (happens until we die)
Number two cannot happen until number one is complete. Number one is complete at the moment of salvation. Number two cannot change, alter, improve, nor sustain number one.
When we don’t understand their separateness, we will praise people whom we think are more sanctified than us, and look down on those who “aren’t.” Eventually we’ll get frustrated as we try to become “more” sanctified through what we do and don’t do. Then, because we’re placing our identity in actions and attitudes, our identity will be threatened when we fail.
We will fail, a lot, all the time, because we’re human. This is why Christ had to die.
Failure in our quest to be more sanctified will digress into anger, lies, hiding, hypocrisy–or we’ll give up altogether as the devil dangles the carrot of sanctification far out of reach.
Friend, it doesn’t have to be this way.
First, let’s define sanctification, or sanctify. It simply means to set apart. This is also another word for holy. The word saint is the noun version of sanctify. Saint means holy person. THAT IS WHAT WE ARE, AS CHRISTIANS. This cannot be achieved nor given from human votes. We are all holy people in our identity, in full, evenly, as children of God.
Nobody has individual higher status or less status. Such would nullify the Cross. This should give you a good grasp on the demonic doctrine of some denominations. I’m not saying certain groups of people aren’t saved, I’m saying there’s a turd in the punchbowl and the enemy is the culprit. His goal is to remove rest and freedom and he’s doing a fine job through religion.
Hierarchies are not from God. Order is, leadership is, but not “levels” of holiness. Even the disciples argued over individual greatness in Luke 9, and Jesus corrected them. He pointed to the example of a child. Children aren’t worried about such things.
Each and every believer is a saint, proportionately. This is why I call people saints in my books and social media posts. This is also why Paul addressed his letters, “To the saints in ____________,” to some seriously misbehaving, immature people. Whether they were struggling with licentiousness or legalism he knew their identity: holy people (see 1 Corinthians 1:2, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Romans 1:7, Ephesians 1:1, Philippians 1:1, Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 2 Thessalonians 1:10).
Saints are sanctified spirits inside physical human bodies. Christian, that is what we are, right now. What has God done with us, as holy people? He has set us apart from the world, sin, and death by placing us inside of Himself. He has sanctified us. We’ve been taken out of Adam and placed in to Christ (see Colossians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:17, Galatians 2:20, Romans 5, 6, and 8).
Like Noah and his family in the Ark were saved from the world, by being placed in it, this is how we are saved from the world too, by being placed in the Spirit of Jesus (see 1 Peter 3:20-22). We couldn’t be placed in Him without first being remade as holy. So, we were crucified with Him, buried, and raised as a holy, new creation. Then we were inserted inside Him. Another word for this is baptize, which, supernaturally, has nothing to do with water but our spirit. Paul goes into great detail about baptism in Romans 6 and not once does he mention any liquid. He’s talking about Jesus! (See Romans 6:3-11, John 14:20, Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17,21).
Therefore, we’ve been made holy. Our spirit–which is our identity–has been sanctified!
- Sanctified = you
- Ongoing sanctification = your actions and attitudes but not you.
“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)
“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)
Do you see what made us sanctified? What made us holy? The body of Jesus. ONE SACRIFICE. Christ’s bloody death. What we do–or refuse to do–can never cause us to be sanctified nor maintain sanctification as holy people. If this isn’t true then Christ died for nothing and the Cross is weak. He would need our help. Yet He does not. By grace through faith is our only lifeline to Him.
Now that our identity is new–sanctified–our mind is being renewed by the Spirit of Christ (see Romans 12:2, John 14:26, Romans 8:9). Our mind leads our actions and attitudes. Consequently, yes, our actions and attitudes are being sanctified–we are maturing, not changing–but such cannot make us more sanctified than who we already are. Why not? Because Jesus will never sacrifice Himself again and that’s the only way to become sanctified in your spirit, again. It’s finished. You are complete!
So today, my friends, know this: Christian, you are completely sanctified. Now learn more about who you are and grow, gracefully.
A prayer for you: Good morning, Father. It’s beautiful here as the sun is just now peeking out. What a wonderful way to wake up. Thank you for another day alive on your planet. I’m grateful to be here. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly you. I ask that you begin to open up the minds of these dear readers to the context of your Word. As they read the Bible, make it clear to them who is being addressed–believer or unbeliever. Take them deeper into the knowledge of your grace, confidently, knowing that if they are Christians they’ve been sanctified and are faultless. Enforce the truth in their thoughts. They lack nothing and are being empowered by your Spirit to grow each day–not change, but grow. Teach them more, Father, about who you are and who they are. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from my upcoming book, The Christian Identity, Volume 2. Check out my other bestselling books here!