My own simple definition is this. Sanctification describes a believerís on going growth in godly living. It is the progressive conformity to the image of Christ Ė becoming like Jesus.
We know that salvation comes first. I receive Christ, repent and trust in Jesusí sacrifice for my sin. Thatís called justification Ė another big word. It is tempting to stay right there in my spiritual journey.
At the point of belief, most Christian believers are baptized. The believerís baptism is a symbol of being buried with Christ and raised to a new life by Godís power, just as Jesus was raised from death. In our old life we were controlled by sin. But because of Jesusí death and resurrection, a believer is asked to consider himself dead to the power of sin and alive to a life lived for God. We are set apart for His purpose.
The need for sanctification is emphasized because of the habit of some Christians to stop at salvation - to rest there Ė living in the same way, following old habits. (Some of the signs of this are: sexual immorality, lust, gluttony, idolatry (placing extreme importance on anything other than God) quarreling, jealousy, temper- tantrums, selfishness, and envy.) Believers continually exhibiting these characteristics, may have been saved and assured of eternal life, but have not moved on to holy living Ė living for God and according to His will.
It is a believerís responsibility to want to live in the new life that Jesus provided and to work toward that end. The good news is that this is not a difficult responsibility because God does most of the work. Remember, we are raised to new life by Godís power. He transforms the believer into a new person by gradually changing their way of thinking.
- I must remember that the Holy Spirit lives within me. He helps to guide me into holy living.
- I am to live my life, but to do everything for Godís glory.
- I am to allow God to speak to me through prayer, godly preaching, and through Bible study.
- I am to attend a church and to worship regularly.
- I am to serve others.
- I am to spend time with other believers.
How do I know I am being sanctified?
Certain habits will begin to replace the old habits. The new habits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, are called The Fruit of the Spirit and are discussed in more depth here.
To study more about holy living, read Ephesians 4:22-32, 5:21-31, Colossians 3:1-17, 1 Corinthians 3:13-15,10:31, 15:33, 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, Galatians 5:16-26, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Romans 6:1-23, 12:1-2, Proverbs 13:4, Hebrews 3:13