“And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11 NKJV).
The ultimate end of God’s redemption plan for mankind is total deliverance from the power of sin, from the penalty of sin, and from the presence of sin.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not offer Himself as the atoning sacrifice on the cross merely for our sins to be forgiven, or for us to escape the penalty of sin, but also for us to be eternally set apart from the presence of sin.
The Scripture clearly reveals that sanctification is God’s will for all His children. God wants you to be set apart from sin unto Himself.
The Scripture states: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality.” (1 Thess. 4:3 NKJV).
“For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification.” (1 Thess. 4:7 ASV).
Sanctification is both a spiritual state and process. It is an act of grace by which a person justified by faith in the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ is separated from sin and the world unto God.
Simply put, sanctification is a state of holiness or separation unto God. By faith in Christ, the born-again believers have not only been forgiven or justified, but we have also been sanctified or made holy unto God in Christ Jesus.
In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul refers to the believers as “those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” (1 Cor. 1:1-2 NKJV).
He further states that the believers “were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11 NKJV).
However, sanctification is not just a spiritual state of holiness or separation unto God, it is also the process of conforming increasingly to the image or likeness of Christ, or growing steadily in all things into Christ (Rom. 8:29, Eph. 4:13).
The Scripture clearly reveals that it is God’s ultimate desire, expectation and purpose for every believer to grow up “to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13 NKJV). That is, to “grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” (Eph. 4:15 NKJV).
The Scripture further states: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:29 NKJV).
It is the Holy Spirit who purifies, sanctifies, changes or transforms the believers who yield and submit to His dealings progressively or increasingly to the likeness of Christ, using primarily the truth of God’s Word, the words or teaching of Christ (Rom. 15:16).
Jesus said to His disciples, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3 NKJV).
You are purified, washed, cleansed or sanctified by the Holy Spirit as you continually imbibe, meditate upon, and obey the truth, the word, or teaching of Jesus Christ.
Jesus also prays for His disciples, saying, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” (John 17:17-19 NKJV).
Sanctification has three major aspects or facets: positional or instantaneous sanctification, progressive or practical sanctification, and ultimate sanctification or glorification.
In this piece we shall focus primarily on positional or instantaneous sanctification of the believers and the other two facets will be discussed later.
Simply put, positional or instantaneous sanctification is the state of separation from sin and its defilement, and from the world and its corruption, unto God.
The new creation in Christ is sanctified, made holy, or set apart from sin and the world unto God instantly at the point of spiritual regeneration or new birth.
When a sinner puts his faith in the person of Jesus Christ and His perfect atoning sacrifice on the cross, confessing Christ Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour; he is instantly forgiven, washed, justified, sanctified, made holy or set apart from sin unto God (Acts 20:32, 26:18).
The Scripture clearly states that the born-again believers “have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10 NKJV).
In his letter, Jude refers to the believers as “those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:1 NKJV).
In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul also refers to the believers as “those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” (1 Cor. 1:1-2 NKJV).
Sadly, many born-again believers today are still totally ignorant of the truth of their positional sanctification at the instance of the new birth. This is the primary cause of the constant failure and frustration being experienced by many believers today who are striving hard but in vain to be holy by their personal effort, performance, or good works.
It is not only difficult but absolutely impossible to walk in holiness if you don’t first acknowledge, admit, recognize, believe, receive and walk in the truth, revelation knowledge or spiritual understanding that by faith in Christ you have been forgiven, justified and sanctified or made holy unto God.
You are born again as a new and holy creation in Christ, set apart from sin unto God. This is apart from your personal effort, performance or good works. It is purely an act of grace, it is God’s gift; no human work or effort is required. You are to simply receive it by faith (1 Pet. 2:9, 1 Cor. 1:2, 6:9, Acts 26:18).
It is only those who have been sanctified, made holy or set apart unto God by faith in Christ who can actually live a holy life or walk in holiness.
Similarly, it is only the believers who acknowledge, admit, understand or believe that they have been sanctified or made holy unto God who can actually live a holy life or walk in holiness. This is a pivotal truth!
Living a holy life becomes easy when you quit striving to be holy in your own wisdom and strength, but simply acknowledge, admit, believe and receive the truth of your sanctification or holiness by faith alone in the person and the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
As a new creation, your spiritual state of being, status or condition has totally and eternally changed. You are no longer a wretched sinner but a gracious saint. You are no longer your old self but a new self in Christ. You are no longer an unrighteous person but the righteousness of God in Christ!
The Scripture states: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21 NKJV).
“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight– if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Col. 1:21-23 NKJV).
If you are truly born again by faith alone in the person and finished work of Jesus on the cross, God no longer see, regard or deal with you as a poor, wretched or depraved sinner, but as one who is holy, blameless and above reproach in His sight.
God sees, regards and deals with the born-again believers as a special people redeemed by His grace, justified by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit. This is how you also should begin to see, regard and deal with yourself. This is the basic secret of walking in holiness!
The Scripture refers to the believers as “those who have been made holy in Christ Jesus, saints by the selection of God, with all those who in every place give honour to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” (1 Cor. 1:2 BBE).
It is the devil who still wants you to continue to see yourself in your former sinful and depraved condition. This is the only way he can keep you in bondage of sin. If you continue to see yourself as a sinner, as an unrighteous or unholy person, you will continue to think, speak, live or act as one.
Beloved, at the new birth, the Holy Spirit has plucked you out of Adam, the sinful and depraved stock, and washed you in the blood of Jesus and then engrafted you into Christ, the holy and righteous stock.
Therefore, it is a stark unbelief, despise or rejection of the work of Holy Spirit for you to continue to see and call yourself a sinner, an unrighteous or unholy person, or to continue to think, speak, live, walk or act as one.
You are no longer sinful and depraved; so, stop thinking, speaking, walking, living or behaving as though you are.
The Scripture said concerning you, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11 NKJV). Hallelujah!
As a result of your spiritual engrafting into Christ or your spiritual union with Christ by the operation of the Holy Spirit, you now possess the divine and holy nature, life and Spirit of Christ. (2 Pet. 1:4, 1 John 3:9, 5:12, Rom. 8:9).
The Scripture states: “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:6 NKJV).
Therefore, as a branch in Christ you have been justified, washed, sanctified, made holy and set apart from sin unto God; “because as He is, so are we in this world.” and “if the root is holy, so are the branches.” (1 John 4:17, Rom. 11:16 NKJV).
This is positional or instantaneous sanctification! It is yours by your union with Christ and it happens instantly at the new birth by the operation of the Holy Spirit.
Friend, although it is absolutely true that as a born-again believer you have been justified, washed, sanctified or set apart from sin and the world unto God, yet the process of growing up in all things into Christ or becoming fully conformed to the likeness of Christ in your thinking, character, attitude or conduct is far from being completed.
This is why the Scripture states that the saints are still being sanctified. “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14 NKJV).
“For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Heb. 2:11 NKJV).
Find out more about progressive or practical sanctification in the next piece.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for helping me to know and understand today the truth that I have been justified, washed and sanctified in Christ by Your Spirit at the new birth. Holy Spirit, teach and help me to continue to walk in the truth of my new spiritual state, condition and identity as a saint in Christ, in Jesus’ name. Amen.