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The word sanctify has two meanings in the Bible. The first meaning is to set something or someone apart from all others as holy rather than profane. The second meaning is to set something apart for the exclusive service of God. Both of these meanings are included in the Christian concept of sanctification.

If you are a saved person, you know that God has forgiven your sins, there is a sense in which you are already sanctified. When you repented you gave up sin and when you put your faith in Christ all your sins were forgiven, or to use another Biblical term, you were cleansed from all sin.[1] Let me ask you a question; if you have been cleansed from all sin, how much sin can you still have? The answer is NONE.

At first a new Christian might feel uncomfortable thinking that he has no more sin. After all, his whole life has been lived as a sinner and sinning was part of who he was. But the truth is that when God cleanses you from all sin, He cleanses you from all sin. It is in this sense that you are already sanctified: God has set you apart to be a holy person, no longer a sinner.

However, there is still part of a person that has to be sanctified after his conversion experience. This part, this thing, is the reason why people sin. Yes, God wants to save people from the sins they have committed and He wants to save them from the reason why they sin. This thing, this reason why people sin, is called by different names among the various churches. Some call it original sin; some call it inherited sin; some call it carnality; some call it depravity; and the list goes on. The important thing is for you to know what it is rather than what to call it.

The reason people sin is because they choose to sin; it is an act of their will. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 , “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” As sinners, people are separated from God by their sins and are spiritually dead; because they are spiritually dead the things of God do not make sense to them. As a “natural man,” a sinner, a person pretty much does whatever he chooses to do; right and wrong are matters of his own judgment and he really doesn’t care what God has to say about it.

A person that has been cleansed from all sin in salvation now has to deal with the reason why he sinned in the first place. He was spiritually dead and he chose to sin; he was in rebellion against God and didn’t care a thing about it. Now that he has spiritual life, he can understand the things of God and he will have a desire to live in obedience to God. BUT, throughout his whole life up to this time, his will had been held captive to sin; sin affected his thinking and it set the course for his behavior.

Jesus told us a story in the Gospel of John, chapter 15, verses 1 and 2 telling us that when God saves us He makes us a branch in Christ—using the metaphor of a grape vine. Just like a branch in a grapevine gets the sap from the grapevine and produces grapes, Christians get their spiritual life from Christ and produce the life of Christ in their lives. Jesus said that when the branches bear fruit the vinedresser prunes them so that they will bear more fruit. This lets us know that God intends to do more for us than just forgive our sins, He wants to save us from the very cause so that we can “bear more fruit,” which means living a holy life for the rest of our lives.

When talking about being saved we used the word “repent;” in talking about being sanctified we use the word “consecrate.” Consecrate means to devote something to a particular use. Jesus expressed it this way:


If any one desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.[2]


So, how to be sanctified? It is as simple as it was to be saved: in faith, consecrate your will to the will of God you already know and to that which God will show you in the future and ask God to sanctify you—to sanctify your will so that you can override the tendency to do your own thing as you did when you were a sinner. You are in affect giving up your life to God to do with it as He pleases. This is the sanctification of being set apart for the service of God. Some people call this “entire” sanctification.

Is it possible always do the will of God in all things and at all times? You are still human and it is possible that you will make mistakes or get temporarily sidetracked, but look at it the way the Apostle Paul did and it will help you. He wrote in Galatians 2:20 :


I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.


How could man write such a thing if it were not so? How can you be a new creature in Christ if it is not so? This is a good verse for you to memorize and to hold on to in your everyday life as God reveals His will to you.

We used the expression “entire sanctification” a moment ago. If you want to find Christians that understand this concept and experience it in their daily lives by the grace of God, find a church that teaches “entire sanctification.” Others mean well, but they will discourage you from trying to live out this experience saying that it is impossible.

[1] 1 John 1:7 The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

[2] Luke 9:23–24