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Biblical teachings for personal Bible study, daily devotions and sermon preparation with abiding principles and practical applications. Here is a dictionary of the rich terms used in the Christian vocabulary.


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Positional Sanctification

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of holiness and He can lead us into nothing less than the very holiness of God.

Sanctification is justifying faith at work (Jas. 2:17, 26). Faith that justifies is always at work in the life of the believer. We are justified by grace through faith in Christ at the beginning of our Christian life. In sanctification God accomplishes His will in us as we grow in Christ-likeness.

“Sanctify,” means “set apart for God’s exclusive use.” Our sanctification is past, present and future. We have been sanctified, we are being sanctified and we shall be sanctified. These three aspects speak of our positional sanctification (1 Cor. 6:11; 1:2; Heb. 10:10), experiential or progressive sanctification (1 Pet. 1:6; 2 Cor. 7:1), and ultimate or perfect sanctification (1 John 3:1-3).

Positional sanctification is also called our standing with God or status sanctification. We are called “saints” and “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 1:7). It is status, position or relationship with God. All believers are classified as “the saints” (Acts 20:32; 1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11; Heb. 10:10, 14; Jude 1).  Therefore, sainthood or sanctification, is not an attainment, it is the state into which God, in grace, calls sinful men, and in which they begin their course as Christians (Col. 3:12; Heb. 3:1).

Positional sanctification relates to the fact that the believer has been redeemed and cleansed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We have been forgiven all of our sins and placed in a new relationship to God.

“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10, NASB 1995).

Positional sanctification is true of every believer. We have once and for all been set apart for God. This is why we are called “saints” because that is what we are in God’s sight. We have been sanctified and are holy before God. We are accepted in the Beloved.

The greatest incentive for holy living is our position before God.

We are not now righteous in ourselves, but we are accepted in the righteousness of Christ. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB 1995).

Our positional sanctification is just as perfect as Christ is perfect. Just as much as He is set apart, we who are in Him are set apart. It is our vital union with Christ. Positional sanctification is as complete for the poorest and weakest believer as it is for the strong and mature. Our positional sanctification depends only on our union and standing in Christ. In this standing before the Father the believer is righteous and accepted before Him forever.

All believers are sanctified positionally. However, sinless perfection will not be achieved in this life. Glorification of the believer is when we stand complete before the Father in a resurrected glorified body. Then we shall be sinless and perfect.

The apostle Paul indicates the status or position of the believers in Christ at Corinth. He writes his letter “to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling” (1 Cor. 1:2). In 1 Corinthians 6:11 he writes to believers recalling their conversion saying, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor. 6:9-10 tell about their lives before they trusted in Christ.

The author of Hebrews sees the believer accepted, forgiven, sins expiated by the sacrifice of Christ and already sanctified. “We have been sanctified . . . are sanctified” by the once for all perfect sacrifice of Christ (Heb. 10:10, 29; 2:11; 9:13-14; 10:14; 13:12). This position never ever changes.

Our positional sanctification is true regardless of the degree of one’s spirituality. Our progressive sanctification is progressive during our whole earthly Christian life. Our future or ultimate sanctification will not be fulfilled until we see Jesus in His glory. The Corinthian believers were “sanctified” in the sense of being set apart and yet were “carnal.”

Our positional sanctification as stated in Hebrews 10:10 is an action completed in past time with present results. We are now permanently sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Christ has satisfied fully, freely, and forever every claim of the holy law of God against us. God has righteously judged all our sins through the death of Christ.

"By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10, NASB95). "By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (NET). We have been set apart through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. The words translated “made holy” are often translated “sanctify.” Here the Greek tense as well as the context makes it plain that the sanctification is an accomplished fact. Nowhere in Hebrews does the writer refer to the progressive sanctification of a believer’s life. He treats it like the Pauline concept of justification.

There is great assurance for the believer when he rests his faith in the sanctification which is accomplished thought the death of Christ. We are in a new covenant relationship with God based upon the all sufficient atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ

Moreover, the saints have a “perfect” status in God’s presence (Heb. 11:40; 12:23). We can approach Him with the full acceptance gained through the death of Christ (Heb. 10:19-22).

Charles Wesley wrote eloquently:

No condemnation now I dread:
   Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
   And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throng,
   And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Every believer is sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:2; cp. Heb. 10:10), therefore the New Testament calls all believers “saints,” hagioi.  We are the “sanctified” or “holy ones.”

In Hebrews 10:10 the believer is placed in a permanent and continuous state of salvation.

A. T. Robertson says, “The divine will, unfulfilled in animal sacrifices, is realized in Christ’s offering of Himself.” God the Father dealt with our sin by sending His Son to die for the sin of those who put their trust in Him. He bore sin’s penalty and cancelled the claims of justice against the sinner forever. God judged and punished sin at the cross. He cancelled the claims against all who believe on Jesus.

God the Father loves us the same way He loves His Son with an eternal, infinite, and unchangeable love from which nothing can separate us (John 17:23; Eph. 1:3–6; Rom. 8:28–39; John 13:1; James 1:17).

God the Father already sees us as justified, sanctified, and glorified (Rom. 8:29, 30; I Cor. 1:30; Heb. 10:10, 14).

God sees us as His adopted children, kings, priests heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ (Gal. 3:26; Eph. 1:5; Rev. 1:6; Rom. 8:17; 7:4; Eph. 5:30–32).

We are even now “seated with Christ in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 1:18-23; Phil. 3:14).

In our positional standing with God we are as perfect as Christ is in all His purity and loveliness before God.

Key Scriptures

Hebrews 10:10; 11:40; 12:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:11; Jude 1

Abiding Principles and Practical Applications

1. The believer has an unchanging status or position before the Lord God that never changes.

2. We are saints who have been set apart to God once for all. It is true of every believer.

3.  Our position in Christ is the greatest incentive for living the Christian life.

4. Our positional sanctification is true regardless of the degree of one's spirituality.

For Further Study

Christ Our Sanctification
Our Absolute and Progressive Sanctification
Have You Received the First Blessing?
Believer's Eternal Position in Christ Jesus
Do You See What I See?
Romans 6 The Christian's Identity with Christ
In Christ

Message by Wil Pounds and all content on this page (c) 2005 by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent. Scripture quotations from the New American Standard Bible (c) 1973, and 1995 Update by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 

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