Most Christians agree that holiness is taught in the Bible. Yet they differ in their understanding of the importance of holiness and the importance of the doctrine of sanctification with respect to other biblical truths. Of all the New Testament doctrines, the teaching of sanctification is the least understood. When we experience the blessing of entire sanctification, then what was begun in justification is brought to completion.
Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth” (John 17:17). That the Apostles taught and believed in sanctification is verified by Scripture. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. To the pilgrims of the Dispersion. . . according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:1-2). The experience these scriptures imply is attainable.
Expressions like “sanctification,” “perfect love,” “holiness,” and “the baptism with the Holy Spirit” are synonyms when they are used to express the Christian experience of salvation. “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Would God command us to be holy, complete, and perfected in love if this could never be experienced? Would Christ and Paul pray for the sanctification of the believers if it could not be possible? When Jude writes his letter to those “sanctified by God the Father” (Jude 1) and Paul says, “Let us, as many as are mature [perfect – KJV] have this mind” (Philippians 3:15), do we think that they were falsely labeling their audience? No, they were not! God is not unjust. God has given us His promise to sanctify us and give us holiness of heart. Would He promise something He is not able to give us?
Dear friend, this promise was given to us to show us the immeasurable grace of God and to encourage us to give ourselves fully to God so that He may perform the wonderful work that He intended for our souls. The longing of every Christian heart is for a holy life and a closer walk with God. The experience of sanctification turns this hope into reality, satisfies the human soul, and gives it joy.
Does sanctification make us perfect?
Those who have been sanctified according to this New Testament doctrine have attained a state of grace which is called Christian perfection (KJV) or Christian maturity (NIV). Obviously this does not mean absolute perfection, which can only be attributed to God, but it means to be perfected in love and therefore to do things out of the motive of love. This is only possible because of the supreme sacrifice which was made “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 10:10) for us. It is not enough just to acknowledge that Christ brought a perfect sacrifice. Whoever wishes to be wholly sanctified must also fulfill the necessary requirements, namely to give oneself fully to God and to believe that God will do it. This perfection in love does not exclude the possibility of sinning again. Hebrews 10:29 shows us that it is even possible to insult the Spirit of grace and bring judgment on oneself.
Christian perfection or Christian maturity does not mean that no more mistakes will be made or that we will be perfect in the knowledge of the truth or that we will not make errors of judgment. Only God is perfect in all things. Those who are sanctified will still have temptations. Even Jesus was “tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), and likewise temptations can also approach sanctified children of God.
What is meant by the sanctification that perfects us in love?
Entire sanctification does not cleanse our conscience. Our conscience is cleansed at the time of justification, but the sinful tendencies of the heart are removed. The will to sin is gone, and we have an intimate relationship with God since “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5).
Entire sanctification cleanses us from sinful tendencies, gives us a firm resolve to do the will of God under all circumstances, and gives us the power to be victorious. Since we are sanctified by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 13:12), sanctification therefore involves a cleansing. Entire sanctification is not the cleansing from guilt, which occurs at justification, but it is a cleansing of the inclination of the heart towards sinfulness.
Sanctification of “your whole spirit, soul, and body” includes your all.
A fully sanctified person can remain obedient to the Word of God and is supported in this by the inclination of their heart do the whole will of God. Therefore, it is much easier for such a person to have victory over sin than for a person who is not wholly sanctified. The fully sanctified person has attained the state of Christian maturity. Through sanctification, the Holy Spirit now lives in the heart of the believer, since the fully sanctified person has dedicated his or her whole self, body, spirit, and soul to the Lord. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, they have been perfected in love.
Now real growth in grace is possible because those things hindering growth have been removed. We do not grow into grace or into sanctification, but we grow in grace and in sanctification. The discernment of spiritual things, the understanding of Scripture, and the attainment of wisdom will increase as the sanctified person walks in grace. He or she will be in unity with all the children of God and will fulfill that role in the church which the Holy Spirit has for them. The Lord Jesus prayed that the Father would sanctify His disciples. This is the privilege of all of God’s children.
Have you experienced this sanctification? Do not delay to dedicate yourself fully to God. Believe in the sacrifice made by Christ at Calvary to sanctify you, so that you can attain this wonderful state of grace.