Reports on what God is doing through Bible believing evangelical Christians in Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, India and Ecuador. Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7).
Key Word Bible Doctrine Studies
SANCTIFICATION -- DISTINCTIONS FROM OTHER DOCTRINES
It is important in any study of
sanctification to clearly distinguish the
differences between it and other doctrines of
For example, regeneration is
the implanting of new spiritual life in a person who
was “dead in trespasses and sins.” This new life
comes from God, and is the beginning or inception of
the Christian life. It is so dynamic that when a
person receives this new life he is said to be “born
again” or “born from above.” Regeneration is the
work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3, 5, 6, 8) and by
this act the believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul describes such a person as
“spiritual” rather than “natural” (1 Cor. 1:12-14).
What is Sanctification?
Sanctification is the work of
the Holy Spirit in us. Sanctification is
specifically the work of the indwelling and
directing Holy Spirit in the life of the regenerated
Calling is addressed to our
consciousness and elicits a response in our
consciousness. We are converted when we turn from
our unbelief and trust in Christ as our Savior.
What is Regeneration?
Regeneration is renewal which
registers itself in our consciousness in the
experience of faith and repentance, love, and
What is Justification?
Justification is the
deliverance from sin’s penalty, whereas
sanctification is the deliverance from the power of
sin. Justification is the judicial act of God at the
beginning of the Christian life, whereby we are at
once acquitted and forgiven of all our guilt, and
accounted legally righteous on the basis of the
substitutionary atoning death of Jesus. It is a
once-for-all declaration by God as the Judge
acquitting the believing sinner.
It is imperative that we keep
in mind that justification makes no actual change in
us. Justification is a declaration by God concerning
our relationship with Him. However, justification
and sanctification belong together, and one cannot
be justified without being in principle sanctified
because our positional sanctification takes place at
the same time. Progressive sanctification deals with
how the justified person should live the Christian
life (2 Cor. 13:4; Gal. 5:13). It involves the daily
What is Glorification?
Glorification is the
consummation of God’s work of sanctification. It
takes place when we stand before Jesus Christ at the
end of this earthly life.
However, sanctification begins
when an individual becomes a believer in Jesus
Christ, and it continues progressively until death
brings him into Christ’s presence.
The Westminster Confession of
Faith succinctly sums up sanctification: “They who
are effectually called and regenerated, having a new
heart and a new spirit created in them, are further
sanctified really and personally, through the virtue
of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His word and
Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole
body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts
thereof are more and more weakened and mortified,
and they more and more quickened and strengthened in
all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness
without which no man shall see the Lord.”
We gain the victory in the
spiritual war as we walk in the Spirit. “Through the
continual supply of strength from the sanctifying
Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome:
and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness
in the fear of God.”
Sanctification is dependent
upon the transforming power of the Holy Spirit over
the entire length of the Christian life. It is a
progressive change in the character of the person
who has been instantly justified by grace through
faith in Christ.
God’s goal in sanctification is
the complete conformity of the believer to the image
of Christ. It is the process whereby we are renewed
in the inner man after the image of God (2 Cor.
3:18; Rom. 12:1, 2; Phil. 3:14; Heb. 6:1; 2 Pet.
Christ is our sanctification (1
Cor. 1:30), and His goal is no less than conformity
to His character (Rom. 8:29). “You shall be holy as
I am holy” (Lev. 11:45; 1 Pet. 1:16; Matt. 5:48).
There is both a positional,
judicial element in sanctification and a
progressive, experiential aspect. God has executed
judgment on our sin with a view to our deliverance.
In progressive sanctification we actually experience
this deliverance. In our experience of salvation
there is a definite once-for-all permanent break
with the dominion in which sin reigns (Rom. 6:1-14).
Progressive sanctification is
built upon our positional sanctification. The
commands to an obedient walk have their ground on
the fact that we have been made obedient (Col. 3:2,
3; Phil. 1:6).
Every day and in every way we
should be more and more like our Savior in
character. This is the work of sanctification. It is
God imputing and imparting to us holiness. God
desires that His children should be holy like
The LORD God is holy with
absolute holiness. His holiness has no degrees. He
is not progressive in His holiness. This attribute
of holiness belongs to Him alone.
Christ died on the cross to
cleanse us of all sin. By virtue of His atoning
sacrifice we stand in a right relationship with Him
when we believe on Him and are born spiritually. “In
Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood,
the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the
riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.”
We will not experience in this
life absolute holiness which belongs only to God.
One day we will be holy as He is holy when we stand
before Him in glory in heaven. We will be clothed
with the robes of His righteousness in His presence.
There is a relative and dependent holiness which He
shares with angels and seraphim in heaven and with
the redeemed men on earth as the Holy Spirit
sanctifies us. This is the area where the Holy
Spirit is at work in the believer. He shares it with
the redeemed by imputation and by impartation. The
Holy Spirit works in the believer to acknowledge
confess and repent of all known sin in our daily
life. “If we walk in the light as he Himself is in
the light, we have fellowship with one another, and
the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin”
(1 John 1:7). When “we confess our sins, He is
faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9).
That is sanctification at work in our lives.
The person who is justified
will always show it by striving for righteousness.
The sanctified life is a life of personal fellowship
with Christ day by day in which the Holy Spirit
rules the inner spiritual and outward expressions.
John 3:3-8; 2 Corinthians 3:18;
13:4; Galatians 5:13; Romans 8:29; 12:1-2;
Philippians 1:6; 3:14; 2 Peter 3:18;
Abiding Principles and
1. The person who is justified
by faith will always show it by striving for
righteousness in his personal life.
2. Sanctification is justifying
faith at work. It is God the Spirit in us conforming
us to the likeness of Christ.
Glorification is the completion of sanctification.
For Further Study
Goal of Justification
Justification and Glorification
Romans 8:28-30 Salvation in Five Words
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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.""Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)
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Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.
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