“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.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NKJV).
Every true born-again believer in Christ has been justified, washed, and sanctified, made holy or set apart from sin and the world unto God through “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10 NKJV).
At the new birth, you have been plucked out of the sinful and corrupt stock or root of Adam, washed and then spiritually engrafted into the divine and holy stock or root of Christ Jesus (Rom. 11:17).
Having become one spirit with Christ, you are now holy; “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!
Although the believers have been sanctified, made holy or set apart from sin unto God at the new birth, yet we are still being sanctified, changed or transformed progressively or increasingly into Christlikeness in our thinking, lifestyle, character or conduct by the Holy Spirit as we seek for, discover, understand, imbibe, internalize and obey the truth, the words or teaching of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18, John 17:17, Eph. 5:26, 1 Tim. 4:5).
The day by day process of growing, maturing, developing, or conforming into the likeness of Christ in all your conducts is called the “Progressive or Practical Sanctification.” This process is continuous, progressive and life-long!
There is no saint living or dead who has experienced the ultimate sanctification or the glorification of the saints. This will only take place at the second coming of Christ when your corruptible, weak, vile or lowly body is changed and transformed in a moment to be conformed to the resurrected and glorious body of Jesus Christ. The Ultimate Sanctification is what all the saints both living and dead are still waiting for.
This is why Apostle Paul writes: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Philip. 3:20-21 NKJV).
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.” (2 Cor. 5:1-2 NKJV).
The ultimate sanctification is the complete sanctification of the believer – spirit, soul and body.
Paul prays: “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.” (1 Thess. 5:23 NKJV).
The ultimate sanctification or glorification of the believers is the full redemption of the believer – spirit, soul and body. At the moment, only the believer’s born-again spirit has experienced full redemption.
This is why Paul refers to our glorification as the redemption of our body. He said, “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” (Rom. 8:23 NKJV).
This is why Peter also describes it as the end of our faith – the salvation of our souls. He states: “…Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith–the salvation of your souls.” (1 Pet. 1:8-9 NKJV).
Moreover, the ultimate sanctification refers to the believers’ complete transformation into the image of Christ at His full revelation, at His second coming.
The Scripture states: “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2 NKJV).
“When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:4 NKJV). Hallelujah!
Beloved, at the new birth, you were changed and transformed into the image of Christ in your spirit (Positional sanctification). Afterwards, as you continue to behold the truth, the image of Christ in the mirror of God’s Word, you are being changed or transformed increasingly into the image of Christ in your soul – mind, will and emotions (Progressive sanctification).
Ultimately, you will be completely transformed into the image of Christ in your soul and body at the second coming of Christ (Ultimate sanctification or glorification).
While in this fallen world, the believers are only spiritually united or joined with Christ. Paul testifies that “while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:6 NKJV). But at His second coming, we shall be physically and eternally united with Christ.
The Scripture states: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:16-17 NKJV).
This is the glorification of the saints, our ultimate sanctification!
While in this sinful and polluted world, your born-again spirit has been set apart from sin and the world and its pollution, but not your soul and your body. But at the coming of Christ, if you are still alive, you will be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet to be joined together with the Lord (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
But if you are no longer physically alive, don’t worry, you will be the first to rise and be joined together with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:15-17). By this means, the believers will be physically and eternally separated from sins and sinners, and from the world and all its injustice, corruption or pollution unto God. This is the ultimate sanctification! Praise God!
Friend, while you are waiting for the ultimate sanctification or glorification what should you do? Purify yourself!
Reckon yourself to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus!
The Scripture states: “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:3 NKJV).
“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:11 NKJV).
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” (Col. 3:5 NLT).
Moreover, the Scripture exhorts you to eagerly wait for Christ!
The Scripture states: “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Heb. 9:28 NKJV).
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Philip. 3:20-21 NKJV).
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I am so glad to know that I will soon be fully transformed and conformed to the image of Christ at His second coming. While I wait in this fallen, sinful and polluted world, Holy Spirit, help and teach me to daily purify myself, deny myself and eagerly wait for my Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.