Christians throw around Bible jargon often, but I’ve often wondered a couple of things regarding that practice. First, do the Christians who use those words truly know what the words means? And second, do people who are new to Christianity or are curious about it know what those words mean? This blog series will attempt to give brief explanations for common Christian jargon.

Todays’ word: Sanctification

Every occurrence of the word “sanctify” word group comes from the “hagiadzo” word group in the original language. This word translates simply as “holy.”

Surveying each occurrence renders a twofold understanding of this concept. On the one hand, “sanctification” is something believers have already experienced:

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus… – 1 Cor. 1:2

“…so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” – Acts 26:18

These verses come from a group of passages that indicate “sanctification” is something that has already happened. By faith, Christians are holy (Acts 26:18).

On the other hand:

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. – 1 Thess. 4:1-8

In this context, “sanctification” is something that is happening and should continue to happen in the future. It is a process by which Christians are freed from sinful habits and the character of Christ is formed in us. It is moral renovation. Some additional observations about this aspect to “sanctification” should be made.

  1. God calls Christians to grow in holiness (1 Thess. 4:3; 1 Pet. 1:15-16)
  2. The Holy Spirit is active in sanctifying believers (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2)
  3. God’s Word is instrumental in bringing about moral renovation (John 17:17; 2 Thess. 2:13)

​Sanctification is both fixed and in process. On the one hand, Christians are already holy through the life and death of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:2). On the other hand, Christians are called and ought to be growing in holiness through the work of the Holy Spirit and power of God’s Word.

One contemporary application: “sanctification” isn’t optional. Growing in holiness isn’t for “serious Christians.” It’s for all Christians. One sign you’re a true believer is a desire to grow in holiness and actual growth in it.

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