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TXT: Passages on Sanctification

Question: Where does the Bible talk about sanctification?


Great question! This is a subject that often creates a bit of confusion.  To help clarify this issue, we need to review some  important distinctions between  biblical “salvation” and “sanctification.”  At conversion, every believer receives the “gift of salvation” (Rom 6:23; Eph 2:8-9).  This gracious “gift” is granted by God and comes through embracing the gospel (Rom 10:17).  By God’s grace, this includes our personally acknowledging our utter sinfulness (confession) and turning to and trusting Christ alone (repentance) for salvation  (Rom 10:10).  The gift of salvation which God graciously bestows  is based completely on the person (His sinless life) and work (His atoning death) of Christ on our behalf!  We can do nothing to earn it!

So what is “sanctification”? Here’s a simple biblical definition:

“That  life-long work of  the indwelling Holy Spirit that progressively molds and shapes the believer into the image of Christ ” (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18).

At salvation, the Bible states that we begin a life-long, Spirit -driven process of becoming more and more like Christ in our attitudes and actions.  While saved from the penalty and power of sin,  we are still confronted, both internally and externally, with the presence of sin.  So, during our earthly life, we constantly battle with  our fallen humanness, the world’s temptations and the evil one’s schemes.  Progressive sanctification is the life-long journey  whereby, through that battle, our character is conformed more and more to the image of Christ.  This “conformity” is a cooperative process by and between God’s Spirit  working in us and our obedience to  God’s Word (Phil 2:12-13).

The Bible  teaches  “sanctification” includes three (3) key components:

  1. Positional Sanctification: That component of God ‘s “gift of salvation” where He makes, declares  and sees  the believer  as “positionally” holy and perfect  through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:32; 1 Cor. 1:2, 1:30, 6:11; Heb 2:11)
  2. Progressive Sanctification: The Holy Spirit’s ministry to every believer where He  progressively brings us into conformity to the likeness and character of Christ through obedience to the Word of God (John 17:17, 19; 2 Cor 3:18; Eph 5:26; Rom 8:29)
  3. Perfect Sanctification: The final act in our sanctification by God wherein He makes our “positional sanctification” and “progressive sanctification” one and the same as we arrive in heaven! Our practice is forever conformed to our position in Christ — perfect, holy and blameless (Rom 8:23; 1 Cor 15:42-44, 51-53; Phil 3:21; 1 John 3:2)

Here’s some other verses that speak to the process of ” progressive” sanctification:

Rom 6:19, 8:13; Heb 12:1, 14:1 ; 1 Thess 4:3; 1 Tim 4:8; Phil 3:13-14

Hope this helps!

Author: Peter Spiers

Peter is an executive with CFA, a national healthcare consulting firm, and invests all his off-work time into his church and his family. He is faithful to invest his life into men and loves to see people transformed by God's Word.

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