Sanctification - The Warrior's Journey®

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“May God Himself, the God of Peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) 

Sanctification is the process by which God separates us from sin and consecrates us to God. It begins at the moment we believe in Jesus and are born again. And it is consummated when Christ returns and “makes our humble bodies like His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). But between the new birth and the Lord’s Second Coming, God is continually at work in us. By the word of God and by His Holy Spirit God is changing us and renewing us day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). Day by day the Holy Spirit is making us more and more like Jesus (Romans 8:29; 12:1-2). 

Another word for sanctification is holiness. Both words come from the Greek word hagiazo, “to make holy or sacred.” In fact, one of Paul’s frequent words for believers is the Greek word hagioi, i.e. “saints” (Romans 1:7; 8:27; 12:13; 15:25, 31; 16:2, 15; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:1-2; 14:33; 16:1, 15; etc.). Therefore, the biblical definition of saint does not only encompass those “super Christians” who are canonized by the church long after they die. According to the Bible “saint” refers to any true believer in Jesus, one in whom God has begun the work of sanctification. 

The work of sanctification or holiness is the prerequisite for entering heaven (Hebrews 12:14). Unless we have been conformed into the image of Jesus, heaven would be hell to us. Without sanctification sin would be present in our being and this would make feel “undressed” and “cringe-worthy” in the presence of the Almighty and all His saints. We’d be far worse off than a filthy beggar, clothed only in soiled rags among fashionably-dressed socialites at a formal gathering. We’d be overcome by shame and want to hide. 

Fortunately, sanctification is the work of God, not man. But it does require our cooperation with God. In fact, Hebrews 12:14 tells us to “pursue sanctification, without which no one will see the Lord.” Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12-13 that we must “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” This does not mean that we achieve our own salvation by doing good works. No. For Paul adds that God is working in our hearts to make us want to do His will and empowering us to do it. God’s Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts and He is actively giving us a hunger for His word. So let’s cooperate with God and satisfy that desire by reading and meditating on His word. God is working in our hearts to make us yearn for His friendship and communion. So let’s cooperate with God by reaching out to Him in prayer and worship. God is at work in us to make us want to be a blessing to others. So let’s cooperate with God and be that blessing. God is faithful, Paul wrote, and He will do His part, the miraculous, to make us fit for heaven. 


  • What things you can do to cooperate with God’s efforts to sanctify you? 
  • What can you do to make your spirit healthier and more responsive to God? 

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