For anyone who knows us well, they know that we (Vito and Pat) have been called to focus on, clarify, teach and preach on the subject of “Sanctification” for the last 25 years. Some have actually told us to our faces that they are tired of hearing us speak on this subject! But we brushed the criticism off and kept on going. Here we are 25 years later and we still see the need to expound on this subject even more urgently. Why? Because it seems that this topic has either been included as a part of justification, or some think once you have said a “sinner’s prayer” you are already guaranteed a place in heaven, no matter how you live your life here on Earth. There seems to be a general lack of understanding of the Scriptures that speak of this important topic. Where there is a lack of understanding there is often a lack of motivation to do something about a matter.
There are also many ministers who teach and preach that sanctification has already been completed for us at the cross. We do agree with that statement, but there is more to be understood. Heb. 10:10 tells us that we were sanctified at the cross by Jesus Christ, “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Just like salvation has already been provided for every single person, sanctification has already been provided as well. Justification was already provided for all, too, which has to do with all our past sins when we come to know Jesus. We can do nothing about those past sins except repent and allow the precious sinless blood of Jesus to remit our sins, cleanse us, and wash us white as snow. Unfortunately, those who refuse to acknowledge all that Jesus did at the cross will not come into that place where they can receive the salvation, justification, and sanctification which has already been provided for them.
Sanctification (even though already provided at the cross) is different than justification in that it begins to deal with sin patterns in our lives (even generationally) and any habitual PRACTICE of sin. That is the process that begins at the point we receive Jesus and make a decision to make Him Lord. Heb. 10:14 tells us, “For by one offering He has perfected [set apart] forever those who are BEING sanctified.” Every time you see the word “being” in the Scriptures, you can rest assured it denotes a process. So which is correct, Heb. 10:10 or 10:14? They both are―because Scripture never contradicts Scripture. If we think it appears to (in those cases) we need to dig a little deeper and ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us! Heb. 10:14 clearly shows that it is a process that He wants to see accomplished in our lives…experientially.
An amazing verse―Heb. 2:11―says this: “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.” This wonderful verse shows us that Jesus doesn’t reject us or condemn us as we are going through this process. Rather, through the power of the Holy Spirit, He continually helps us. Part of this process includes our dying to the flesh, renewing our minds by His Word, and the tearing down of any and all demonic strongholds that have been a hindrance in our lives. There are also attitude adjustments He makes along the way, and motives He purifies. The Word of God tells us that we are sanctified by the Word (John 17:17; Eph. 5:25-27), by Jesus’ blood (Heb. 13:12; 1 John 1:7), and by the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13b)…all three, working together to get us from where we used to be to where He wants us to be! He takes us from “glory to glory.” (See 2 Cor. 3:18.) Sanctification (unlike justification) is quite dependent upon our cooperation and participation―if we want to experience this process―or not! There are literally dozens of Scriptures in the Word of God that confirm this truth.
The Bible tells us in 1 Pet. 1:15, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” Sanctification is the process that makes our behavior holy. How do you know when you are finished with this process? When Jesus can see His reflection in you, when you are conformed to His image. (His plan is that we be “re-created” in His image to walk in holiness, being consecrated and set apart for Him.) As long as we are pursuing the sanctification that yields holiness―with all of our hearts―we are headed in the right direction. Heb. 12:14 (NASB) puts it like this: “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” Why would we need to pursue it if all we needed to say is that it is already done? Pursue means “to do something with intense effort and with definite purpose or goal.” As John Bevere says on page 122 in his recent book, The Awe of God, “We don’t chase after a position we already hold, but rather the behavior worthy of the Lord.” (See Col. 1:10.)
What’s the end result if we ignore or refuse to allow this process to happen in our lives? In short, we will not be ready when Jesus returns for His bride. How do we know that? Because the Bible says He’s coming back for a bride without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5:27). The door will be shut and we will be left outside, saying: “Lord, Lord, open for me. Didn’t I do this or that or the other thing to advance your kingdom?” And the Lord will say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you, you workers of iniquity.” You see, it’s through the process of sanctification that we no longer habitually practice sin but instead we become one with the Lord, both in our hearts and in our minds. We begin to see things from His perspective and we have His heart and understanding on spiritual matters. When we become one with Him, and one with each other, a lot of church issues will be resolved in the here and now, and we will be the glorious church Jesus is coming back for!
We know this can be a hard message for those who don’t generally hear these things preached from the pulpit, but we are compelled by the Lord to share these things. 1 Thess. 5:22-23 puts it like this: “Abstain from every form of evil. 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.”