And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth (John 17:19, KJV)
Sanctification is an important concept for us in Christianity. In a nutshell, it simply means to make someone or something holy. This implies sanctification can be conceived as a process; holiness is the finished state. If you want to make something holy, you subject it through the process of sanctification! The key then to understanding sanctification is to understand holiness.
Many of us equate holiness to living a sinless lifestyle. In other words, holiness to us has to do with sin. Sinless living is without question a part of holiness but holiness in itself is more than just living a sinless life, just as Jesus, who was sinless above sanctified Himself.
Holiness is not defined by sin, its presence or absence. It is defined by God Himself, His nature. Before there was sin, holiness was! God is holy and that is not the same as saying He is sinless. His very nature is unique, distinct from everything else in existence, both spiritual and physical. Indeed, “there is none like Him.” Holiness is defined with reference to God. For example, when God comes into a room, His presence makes that room holy! The ground of the burning bush on which Moses stood was not holy because it was special, but because the presence of God came upon it.
Sanctification is applied to us, God’s children. It is the process by which we are made holy, to share in the Father’s nature, share in His image, presence, purity, etc. A few key words help us understand holiness and sanctification as it APPLIES TO US, HUMANS. They are “separation”, “set apart”, “consecration”, “purity”. As always, this devotional is too short to explain these important concepts fully. Suffice to say here that sanctification is the process by which God makes us holy, and holiness is not just the absence of sin but defined by His nature. A Christian can be sinless yet not entirely sanctified. Jesus sanctified Himself in the verse above by separating and consecrating His life for God alone. God does not just want you, a Christian, to just “avoid sin”. He wants you to be untainted by the world. This truth is crucial for today’s church and believers who sometimes “avoid sinning” but look like the world, doing things like them. They might be sinless yet unsanctified.
Let the Holy Spirit not only cleanse you from sin inside and outside but let Him clean the taint of the world from you, and set you apart, consecrate you, make you different from the ungodly world around you.
What is the difference between sanctification and holiness?
APPLY THE WORD
You have been sanctified in Christ, and you are currently being sanctified! This is the mystery of human nature, with a heavenly and an earthly part. You are holy in Christ, but God now commands you to be holy here on earth! This holiness is not the same as “not sinning”, but means “be set apart”, “different from what is non-God” around you. It is not because something is not sin that makes it OK for you in Christ. The Spirit alone can do this kind of sanctification in us. Allow Him to continue the work inside and outside!
Ask the Father to sanctify you, your thoughts, feelings, desires, words, actions, friends, things you see, listen to etc. This is not a prayer to make you a legalistic christian, but to set you apart as “belonging to God, the Holy One”.