(Click to listen to an audio recording of this article: SanctificationSanctification is the process by which you are transformed to have divine nature by the act of consistently putting sin to death by resisting temptation. This is what it means to cleanse the inside of the cup. (Matthew 23:26) Your sinful nature is gradually replaced by virtues – the divine nature. Romans 12:2, 2 Peter 1:4.... More: What is it and how can I partake in it?)
A radical transformation
The Scriptures make it clear that sanctification is vital for a Christian’s growth and development on life’s pathway. There is no doubt that God desires us to be partakers in this, as we read in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 “… God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”There should also be a compelling reason on our part to partake of sanctification based on the serious words of Hebrews 12:14: “Pursue peace with all people, and sanctification, without which no one will see the Lord.”
But what exactly is sanctification?
Sanctification is another term for holiness, and we certainly don’t become holy overnight. Actually, something drastic has to happen for us to change from being the way we are by nature into being holy, as He is holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16) A radical transformationThis is the process of sanctification, in which we our sinful human nature is gradually exchanged for divine nature when we in obedience to God’s will deny and put to death the sinful lusts in our flesh. (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 1:3-4)... More is needed, and it involves a lifelong process. This process is called sanctification.
Victory over conscious sin
The Christian life begins with reconciliation. If we truly repentRepentance is the act of regretting sincerely the sin in your past with the goal to never do it again. It is making a decision to turn away from evil and to serve God. Repentance is one of the requirements for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 2:17; Luke 15:10; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 3:19; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter... More of past sins, God forgives us for Jesus’ sake. This is a wonderful experience, but we soon discover that we are still tempted to sinTo commit sin is to consciously do something that you know goes against God’s will. This can be in word, deed, or even thought. (James 1:14-15)... More and that we must fightAlmost all talk of battles and wars when concerning a Christian life refers to the inner battle that arises when a sinful thought tempts you. God’s Spirit and the flesh are at odds. When you have decided to only do God’s will and are being led by the Spirit, a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit arises: there is... More to overcome it. By the power of the Holy Spirit and through faithfulness in this battleAlmost all talk of battles and wars when concerning a Christian life refers to the inner battle that arises when a sinful thought tempts you. God’s Spirit and the flesh are at odds. When you have decided to only do God’s will and are being led by the Spirit, a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit arises: there is... More, we can indeed come to a life of victory over all conscious sin—that is, the thoughts, attitudes and actions we know in the moment of temptation are wrong.
We read in Romans 6:22: “But now having been set free from sinSin is anything that goes against God’s will and His laws. To commit sin is to transgress or disobey these laws. The lust to sin dwells in human nature. In other words, it is contaminated and motivated by the sinful tendencies that dwell in all people as a result of the fall into sin and disobedience in the garden of Eden. This... More, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”We are free to stop sinning!
Victory over unconscious sin
But as we present ourselves to serve God, we make another discovery! Although we have been set free from sin—free from consciously sinning—we still have sin in our flesh, as the apostle John points out in no uncertain terms. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”1 John 1:8. Our fleshSin is anything that goes against God’s will and His laws. To commit sin is to transgress or disobey these laws. The lust to sin dwells in human nature. In other words, it is contaminated and motivated by the sinful tendencies that dwell in all people as a result of the fall into sin and disobedience in the garden of Eden. This... More, our human nature, is full of a tendency to sin, and we are oblivious to this until we notice it in the form of a temptation, or God’s Holy Spirit sheds His light on it. Clearly, there is a difference between consciously committing sin and “having sin in the fleshSin is anything that goes against God’s will and His laws. To commit sin is to transgress or disobey these laws. The lust to sin dwells in human nature. In other words, it is contaminated and motivated by the sinful tendencies that dwell in all people as a result of the fall into sin and disobedience in the garden of Eden. This... More.”
Fruit grows from a seed. In order for “fruit to holiness” to grow, the seed of our own life—our own will—must be sown, and must die. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” John 12:24. The apostle Paul makes a clear declaration in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with ChristJesus was physically crucified on the cross at Calvary. Though blameless, He took upon Himself the punishment for sin, which was death, so He could pay our debts and forgive us our sin if we are willing to believe in Him and follow Him the Apostle Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20) This is a metaphorical... More; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”Do we hate our own “I” according to the flesh—our own will? If so, then we will be willing to sow it into death, so that new life can grow.
To put it simply, victory over sin“Victory over sin” means that you do not commit conscious sin – that which you know would be sin at that time when you are tempted. It doesn’t mean that you are without sin, but that temptation is overcome before it can become sin. (Romans 8:37; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Revelation 2:7)... More has to do with overcoming the sinful lustsThe desires that we experience that go against God’s will. In other words, a desire for anything sinful. See James 1:14. Also called “sin in the flesh.” Although the expression “youthful lusts” is often thought of in connection with sinful sexual desires, lusts include anything that go against what is good and right in God’s eyes. (2 Timothy 2:22.; Galatians... More in our flesh revealed to us in the moment of temptation. But a disciple’s sanctification doesn’t stop there. Sanctification continues with the process of dealing with sin that is revealed to us after we have done or said something wrong – this is the sin that clings so easily to us, even when we have the best intentions or have done a good deed. This sin also needs to be put to deathIs to overcome the temptations to sin that arise when our lusts and desires draw us to react in ways we know to be evil (i.e. pride, hatred, evil-speaking, envy etc.) It is the act of denying those thoughts and refusing to agree with them. The lust to sin is not only suppressed, but it actually dies. (Romans 8:13; Colossians... More (judged and rejected by my conscious mind) so that fruit to holiness can grow.
Sin that “follows along”
It’s written in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” In the light of God’s Word, and through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we can see the sin in our nature that followed along with the good that we set out to do. A harsh tone, unmerciful words, or a thoughtless comment popped out of our mouths just when we set out to show kindness or help someone in need. We did what we hated, but we did not see it until after the fact. These are the deeds that Paul refers to in Romans 8:13, the “deeds of the body.” “But if we walk in the lightWalking in the light is the state of being obedient to do all that God reveals to you through the Holy Spirit. For example, when He shows you that you need to overcome laziness, or lying, or any other lust. This means both that you put to death all of the sin you are shown (get light over) and obey... More as He is in the light, we have fellowshipFellowship means communion with other Christians who are living the same life that you are. It includes mutual edification and a unity in purpose and spirit that goes far deeper than friendship or human relationships. (1 John 1:7) We also experience fellowship with Christ when we overcome sin in the time of temptation just as He did when He was... More with one another, and the blood of JesusThis mostly , or self-will. By putting to death sin in His flesh, “blood” flowed, and since He was blameless, this sacrifice could be used to atone for our sins and give us forgiveness. In a deeper sense, we as members of His body, are cleansed from indwelling sin when we follow Him, and the same “blood” flows from us... More Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”1 John 1:7.
Little by little, by walking in the lightWalking in the light is the state of being obedient to do all that God reveals to you through the Holy Spirit. For example, when He shows you that you need to overcome laziness, or lying, or any other lust. This means both that you put to death all of the sin you are shown (get light over) and obey... More (agreeing with God’s judgment over our own sin and being obedient to put to death what is revealed to us), sin is cleansed out. (Romans 8:13) Then the virtues of Christ, His life and characteristics, can grow so that we are transformed into His image more and more! This is a wonderful and realistic hope for every Christian who longs for transformation.
A new nature: The virtues of Christ
Our human nature with all its wretched tendencies is anything but divine! But the hope of the gospel is clear: “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine natureGod’s nature, or divine nature, is perfectly pure and it cannot be tempted by evil. We are promised that we can be partakers of the divine nature by fleeing the corruption in the world that comes through our lusts. As we gradually overcome our sinful human nature it is replaced by divine nature – God shares His own nature with... More, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”2 Peter 1:3-4.
God is exceedingly interested in helping us forward on this way of sanctification. Our part is to want it, to acknowledge our need for it, and then launch out in obedience to God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, in faith that “He who began a good work in [us] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6.
“When people think about grace, they usually think about the forgiveness of sins; and since we have all sinned, we all need grace.” Sigurd Bratlie opens this booklet about grace with these words. However, he goes on to describe in-depth that the grace that is in Christ Jesus means so much more than forgiveness. It also means truth and help. It teaches us not to sinTo commit sin is to consciously do something that you know goes against God’s will. This can be in word, deed, or even thought. (James 1:14-15)... More, so that we can be completely free to live a life of victory that leads to perfection.