Sanctification: God's Work. We are sanctified by God the Father <Jude 1>, God the Son <Heb. 2:11>, and God the Holy Spirit <2 Thes. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2>. Perfect holiness is God's command <1 Thes. 4:7> and purpose. As Paul prayed, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely" <1 Thes. 5:23>. Sanctification is a process that continues during our lives as believers <Heb. 10:14>. Only after death are the saints referred to as "perfect" <Heb. 12:23>.
Sanctification: The Believer's Work. Numerous commands in the Bible imply that believers also have a responsibility in the process of sanctification. We are commanded to "be holy" <Lev. 11:44; 1 Pet. 1:15-16>; to "be perfect" <Matt. 5:48>; and to "present your members as slaves of righeousness for holiness" <Rom. 6:19>. Writing to the church of the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul made a strong plea for purity: "This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" <1 Thes. 4:3-5>.
These commands imply effort on our part. We must believe in Jesus, since we are "sanctified by faith in Him" <Acts 26:18>. Through the Holy Spirit we must also "put to death the evil deeds of the body" <Rom. 8:13>. Paul itemized the many "works of the flesh" from which we must separate ourselves <Gal. 5:19-21>. Finally, we must walk in the Spirit in order to display the fruit of the Spirit <Gal. 5:22-24>.
Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
(Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
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