Sanctification.

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Let’s start with the foundation of our faith. Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8 to 9 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Similarly, Romans chapter  11 verse 6 emphasizes that if salvation were by works, grace would no longer be grace. These scriptures underscore that salvation is a gift from God, not something we earn.

The concept of “works” in the context of the New Testament often refers to actions or deeds that are performed with the intention of fulfilling the requirements of the Law, specifically the Mosaic Law, which is the religious law given by God to the Israelites in the Old Testament. This includes various moral, ceremonial, and civil rules and regulations.

In the original Greek, the word for “works” is  (erga), which can be translated as deeds, actions, or works. In the context of Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8 to 9 and Romans  chapter 11 verse 6, “works” refers to human efforts to achieve righteousness or salvation through adherence to the Law or through good deeds.

The apostle Paul, who wrote both Ephesians and Romans, emphasizes that salvation is not achieved through these works. Instead, it is a gift of grace from God that is received through faith. This is a key tenet of Christian theology, distinguishing it from other religious systems that emphasize earning favor with God through human effort.

Paul’s argument is that if salvation could be earned through works, then it would not be a gift of grace. Grace, by definition, is unmerited favor. It is something given freely, not something that can be earned or deserved. If salvation were based on works, then it would be something that people could boast about, as if it were their own achievement. But Paul insists that this is not the case. Salvation is a gift from God, given out of His love and mercy, not a reward for human effort.

This does not mean that good works are unimportant in the Christian life. On the contrary, Ephesians chapter  2 verse 10 goes on to say, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” While good works do not earn salvation, they are the fruit of a life transformed by God’s grace and are a way for believers to express their love and gratitude to God.

Sanctiofication

Now, let’s look at sanctification. Some believers argue that sanctification is a one-time event, pointing to scriptures like Hebrews chapter 10 verse 10, “And by that will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all,” and 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you. 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.” These passages speak of sanctification in the past tense, suggesting a completed action.   The term “sanctification” in the New Testament originates from the Greek word  (hagiasmos), which translates to “to make holy,” “consecrate,” or “set apart.” It’s derived from the root word (hagios), meaning “holy” or “set apart.”

In Christian theology, sanctification is typically understood in two distinct senses: positional and progressive.

Positional Sanctification: This is a singular event that takes place at the moment of salvation. When an individual places their faith in Jesus Christ, they are justified (declared righteous) and sanctified (set apart) in the eyes of God. This is an immediate, legal act of God in which He considers our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us.

Progressive Sanctification: This is an ongoing process of becoming more Christ-like in our thoughts, words, and actions. It involves the believer’s active participation in pursuing personal holiness, striving against sin, and living out the Christian life in obedience to God’s Word. This is what Paul refers to in Philippians chapter  2 verse 12 when he instructs us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

The ongoing nature of sanctification aligns with the reality of the Christian life. While believers are declared holy in God’s sight at the moment of salvation, they continue to grapple with sin in their daily lives. The process of sanctification is God’s way of gradually transforming believers into the image of Christ, aiding them in their growth in holiness, and enabling them to live out their faith in practical ways.

This transformation process is beautifully encapsulated in Ephesians  chapter 2 verse 10, which states, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Furthermore, 2nd  Corinthians  chapter 3 verse 18 affirms, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

This ongoing process of sanctification does not contribute to our salvation – that is the work of God alone, achieved through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, it is a response to that salvation, a way of living out our faith and expressing our gratitude to God for His grace. It’s a journey of becoming more like Christ, of growing in love, humility, and righteousness.

So, while sanctification has a definitive beginning at the moment of salvation, it is also an ongoing process that continues throughout the believer’s life. This understanding helps to guard against complacency and encourages believers to strive for holiness and godliness in their daily lives.

The Original Greek

However, when we look at the original Greek text using Strong’s Concordance,  The Greek verb ” (hagiazó), which is translated as “sanctified,” is used in the perfect tense in both Hebrews  chapter 10 verse 10 and 1st  Corinthians chapter 6 verse 11. In Greek grammar, the perfect tense is used to describe an action that has been completed in the past but has ongoing results or implications in the present. This is different from the past tense, which simply describes an action that occurred in the past, without necessarily implying any ongoing effects.

In Hebrews  chapter 10 verse 10, the verse says, “And by that will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The phrase “we have been sanctified” translates the Greek verb (hēgiasménoi), which is the perfect passive participle of  (hagiazó). The perfect tense here indicates that the sanctification (the setting apart as holy) is a completed action, accomplished through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. However, the ongoing implications of this sanctification are seen in the transformed lives of believers.

Similarly, in 1st  Corinthians chapter 6 verse 11, Paul writes, “And such were some of you. 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.” The word “sanctified” here translates the Greek verb  (hēgiasthēte), which is the aorist passive indicative of  (hagiazó). Although the aorist tense is typically seen as a simple past action, in this context, it carries the sense of a completed action with ongoing effects, similar to the perfect tense.

These verses suggest that sanctification, while initiated at a specific point in time (at the moment of salvation), has ongoing effects in the life of the believer. This is consistent with the understanding of sanctification as both a one-time event (positional sanctification) and an ongoing process (progressive sanctification). The one-time event of being set apart as holy is the basis for the ongoing process of becoming more like Christ in our thoughts, words, and actions. This process is the outworking of the initial sanctification and is empowered by the Holy Spirit, who continues to work in the lives of believers to conform them to the image of Christ

Sanctification as an Ongoing Process

The perspective of sanctification as an ongoing process is indeed a prevalent understanding in Christian theology, and it’s supported by numerous passages in the New Testament.

1st  Thessalonians chapter  4 verse 3 states, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” The present tense of the verb “is” in this verse suggests that sanctification is not just a one-time event, but an ongoing process. It’s God’s will for believers to continually grow in holiness and purity.

Philippians chapter 2 verse 12 to 13 is another key passage that supports this view. It says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The phrase “work out your own salvation” suggests an ongoing process. It’s not about working for salvation, but working out the implications of salvation in our lives. This is something that happens over time, not all at once.

Another important scripture is Romans chapter 12 verse 2, which says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The word “transformed” here comes from the Greek word  (metamorphoó), which means to change into another form. It’s the same word used to describe the transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew chapter  17 verse 2. This transformation is a process that happens as we renew our minds through the study of God’s Word and through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

2nd  Corinthians chapter 3 verse 18 also supports this view. It says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” The phrase “are being transformed” is in the present tense, indicating an ongoing process. We are continually being transformed into the image of Christ, from one degree of glory to another.

These scriptures, among others, suggest that sanctification is an ongoing process of transformation. While we are positionally sanctified at the moment of salvation, there is also a progressive aspect to sanctification where we are continually being made more like Christ. This process involves the renewing of our minds, the transformation of our character, and the growth in holiness, all of which are the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The Scriptures  emphasize that ongoing repentance and confession are vital components of the Christian journey. They are integral to the process of sanctification, which is the continual work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to mold us into the likeness of Christ.

In the book of James, the importance of confession and prayer is highlighted. James chapter 5 verse 16 states, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” This verse not only underscores the importance of confession and intercessory prayer but also highlights the healing and transformative power that comes from acknowledging our shortcomings. This isn’t about re-earning salvation, but about the process of sanctification that brings healing and restoration in our lives.

The Lord’s Prayer, as taught by Jesus in Matthew chapter  6 verse 9 to 13, includes the plea, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This daily request for forgiveness implies an ongoing need for God’s mercy and grace. It’s a recognition of our human frailty and a humble admission that we continually fall short of God’s glory. Yet, in His abundant love, God is always ready to forgive. This ongoing forgiveness is a key part of our sanctification process, reminding us of our dependence on God’s grace.

1st  John chapter 1 verse 9 further reinforces this concept, stating, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The present tense used in this verse suggests that confession is not a one-time event, but an ongoing practice. It’s through this continual confession and God’s subsequent forgiveness that we experience cleansing from unrighteousness. This cleansing is a crucial part of our sanctification, as it removes the barriers that sin creates between us and God, allowing us to grow closer to Him.

These verses, among others, illustrate that the journey of sanctification involves regular repentance and confession. As we continually turn away from our sins and seek God’s forgiveness, we are progressively transformed into the image of Christ. This transformation is not about earning or maintaining our salvation – that is secured solely by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Instead, it’s about growing in holiness, maturing in our faith, and deepening our relationship with God. As Paul writes in 2nd  Corinthians chapter 3 verse 18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” This verse beautifully encapsulates the ongoing process of sanctification, as we are continually transformed into Christ’s image by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Fruits of the Spirit

The “fruit of the Spirit” mentioned in Galatians chapter  5 verses 22 and 23 is indeed a testament to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. The fruit of the Spirit is described as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” These are not qualities that we can produce on our own, but they are the result of the Holy Spirit’s transformative work in us.

The term “fruit” in these verses comes from the Greek word  (karpos), which can mean fruit, crops harvested, or figuratively, deeds or actions. In this context, it refers to the moral and spiritual outcomes or characteristics that result from the Holy Spirit’s work in a believer’s life.

This concept of bearing fruit is also found in John chapter  15, where Jesus uses the metaphor of a vine and branches. In John  chapter 15 verse 1 and 2, Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

In this metaphor, branches that do not bear fruit are taken away, while those that do bear fruit are pruned to encourage more fruitfulness. The “fruit” here can be understood as the visible evidence of a believer’s connection to Christ, the vine. It’s the tangible manifestation of the life of Christ in us, produced by the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word for “takes away” in John 15:2 is  (airei), which can also mean “lifts up.” Some scholars suggest that this could refer to the practice of lifting up grapevines that have fallen to the ground to help them bear fruit. This interpretation would suggest that the Father doesn’t just discard unfruitful branches, but also works to lift them up and help them become fruitful.

In John chapter 15 verse 5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” This verse underscores the importance of abiding in Christ for bearing fruit. It’s not about our efforts or works, but about remaining connected to Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us.

In conclusion, the process of sanctification involves the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and transforming us into the image of Christ. This is not about earning salvation, but about the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in us as we abide in Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is the visible evidence of this transformation, demonstrating the reality of our faith and our connection to Christ.

 the perspective that sanctification is a one-time event can stem from certain scriptural language and the understanding of the finality of Christ’s work on the cross. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are justified – declared righteous before God – and sanctified – set apart for God’s purposes. This is a definitive, one-time event that secures our salvation. As it says in 2nd  Corinthians chapter  5 verse 21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

However, understanding sanctification solely as a one-time event can overlook the dynamic, transformative work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. While our position before God is secured at the moment of salvation, the process of becoming more like Christ – of having our character transformed to reflect His – is ongoing. This is often referred to as progressive sanctification.

The Apostle Paul speaks to this ongoing process in Philippians chapter 1 verse 6, saying, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” The “good work” that God began is the work of sanctification, and Paul assures us that God will continue this work throughout our lives.

In Romans chapter 12 verse 2, Paul further elaborates on this process, urging believers, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” This transformation and renewal of the mind is part of the ongoing work of sanctification.

Moreover, in Philippians chapter  2 verse 12 to 13, Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” This “working out” of our salvation is not about earning it, but about living it out in our daily lives, which is a continual process.

In conclusion, while the act of being set apart for God (sanctification) certainly happens at the moment of salvation, the process of becoming more like Christ (also referred to as sanctification) is ongoing. It’s a journey of transformation, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, in which we grow in holiness and Christ-likeness as we live out our faith each day.

In my view, sanctification is about living out the life of Christ within us. This theme is beautifully expressed in Colossians chapter 3 verses 3 and 4, which says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

In this passage, the Apostle Paul is speaking to believers about their new identity in Christ. When he says “you have died,” he’s referring to the spiritual death of the old self, the sinful nature, which occurs when we place our faith in Christ. This is often symbolized in baptism, where going under the water represents dying with Christ, and coming up out of the water represents being raised with Christ to new life (Romans  chapter 6 verses 3 and 4).

The phrase “your life is hidden with Christ in God” speaks to the security and assurance of our salvation. Our life—our true identity—is now bound up with Christ, hidden with Him in God. This means that our salvation is as secure as Christ Himself. It also speaks to the intimate union we have with Christ, as we are in Him and He is in us.

The statement “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” points to the future hope of believers. When Christ returns, our union with Him will be fully realized and we will share in His glory. This is the ultimate goal of sanctification—the complete transformation into the likeness of Christ, which will be fully accomplished when He returns.

In the context of sanctification, this passage underscores that the Christian life is not about trying to live for Christ in our own strength, but about allowing the life of Christ to be lived out in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s about seeking to be holy as He is holy (1st Peter chapter 1 verses 15 and 16), abiding in Him (John chapter 15 verses 4 and 5), and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Christ (2nd  Corinthians  chapter 3 verse 18). This is an ongoing process that continues throughout our lives, as we grow in our understanding of Christ and become more like Him in our thoughts, words, and actions.

 regardless of one’s perspective on the exact nature of sanctification, all Christians can agree on the foundational truths outlined: our salvation is secure in Christ, and the call to live a sanctified life is a call to live in the reality of that salvation.

Our salvation is secure in Christ because it is based on His finished work on the cross, not on our own efforts or goodness. As Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8 and 9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Our salvation is a gift of grace from God, received through faith in Jesus Christ. Once we have received this gift, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans chapter  8 verses 38 and 39).

Living a sanctified life means living in the reality of this salvation. It means recognizing that we have been set apart by God and for God, and seeking to live in a way that reflects this. As 1st  Peter chapter  2 verse 9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” We are called to live as people who have been transformed by the grace of God, and who are being continually transformed into the likeness of Christ.

Bearing the fruit of the Spirit, as described in Galatians chapter 5 verses 22 and 23, is a key part of living a sanctified life. The fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—are the characteristics that the Holy Spirit produces in us as we abide in Christ and allow Him to work in our lives. 

They are the visible evidence of the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in us.

Finally, living a sanctified life means continually seeking to reflect Christ in all we do. As Colossians chapter 3 verse 17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Our ultimate goal is to become more like Christ, and to reflect His love, grace, and truth in our words and actions.

In conclusion, whether we view sanctification as a one-time event or an ongoing process, the call to live a sanctified life is a call to live in the reality of our salvation, to bear the fruit of the Spirit, and to continually seek to reflect Christ in all we do. It’s a journey of transformation, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, in which we grow in holiness and Christ-likeness as we live out our faith each day.

We chase after God, not because we’re trying to earn His love, but in response to the overwhelming love He has already shown us. As it says in 1st  John chapter 4 verse 19, “We love because He first loved us.”

Our pursuit of God isn’t about trying to win His favor or secure our salvation. Those are gifts already given to us through the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Instead, our pursuit of God is about seeking to know Him more deeply, to grow in our relationship with Him, and to become more like Christ in our thoughts, words, and actions.

This pursuit isn’t a sprint but a marathon. It’s a lifelong journey of seeking, learning, growing, and being transformed. It involves daily choices to seek God, to abide in His Word, to listen to His Spirit, and to obey His commands. It involves continually turning away from sin and turning towards God. It involves bearing the fruit of the Spirit and reflecting the love of Christ to those around us.

And as we chase after God, we can rest assured that He is also pursuing us. As Psalm 23 verse 6 says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” God’s love and mercy are always with us, guiding us, sustaining us, and drawing us closer to Him.

So, to all the listeners of the God Chaser podcast, I encourage you: Keep seeking, keep chasing after God. Not to earn His love, but because He first loved you. And as you do, you will find that the One you are chasing is also chasing after you, with a love that is steadfast, unchanging, and everlasting.

Thank you for joining us today on the God Chaser podcast. Until next time, keep seeking, keep chasing, and remember, you are deeply loved by God. after God.

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