Sanctification - A Christian Responsibility
Sanctification is one of the most challenging aspects of the Christian walk. Our natural tendency is to embrace sin, yet God in His divine wisdom has chosen to give us the responsibility of working out our own sanctification. "Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work," says 2 Timothy 2:21.
But how do we pursue sanctification? How are we personally responsible? Lovingly, God has sent His Holy Spirit and His written Word, the Bible, to guide us. Though every person's sanctification is unique and personal, there are common disciplines in the pursuit of sanctification that are unchanging.
Sanctification - Practical Steps
Prayer is of utmost importance. When we are suffering or , our mind and body are weak. Satan knows this and tries to take advantage of us. When we pray, we are in spiritual union with God. Not only will prayer comfort us in our hardship, but it will also give us the strength to overcome sin. Through prayer, we are also more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
God has also given us the written Word - the Bible. The Bible is not merely a history book, but its words have the power to sanctify us. When Satan tempted Jesus in Matthew 4, Jesus used the Word of God to overcome temptation. "But He answered and said, 'It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4).
God's Word also has the power to transform our mind, convict, and bring to light the darkness that is within our hearts. It is the instrument which God uses to develop in us knowledge, faith, and personal holiness; all of which are essential elements of sanctification. "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). Whether by studying or listening to teaching, the sanctifying work of God's Word is enormous to a believer who recognizes its truth and power.
Believers are also sanctified in . True fervent worship is what God desires from His people. When our worship is genuine, it transforms our hearts and brings us into close union with God. John 4:23 says, "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him."
Additionally, before Jesus ascended into heaven he tells the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for a gift God will send (Acts 1). This is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our ultimate helper and sanctifier. When we yield to His leading, He has the power to help us resist sin and make positive change. "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).
When we sin and ignore the Holy Spirit's leading, we break fellowship with Him, thereby cutting off the life-changing power. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 commands us: "Do not quench the Spirit."
Sanctification - Key to Spiritual Growth
Sanctification is both a matter of position and progression. We are sanctified because Jesus Christ has saved us and yet sanctification continues to work within to transform us unto the likeness of Christ. Sanctification is the responsibility of every believer in Christ. When we choose to pursue sanctification in our life, positive growth occurs. The pursuit of it involves the surrender of the body and the will to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It takes time and is a working progress that cannot be hurried. Like a newborn baby that gradually matures unto adulthood, so is the work of sanctification in the life of a new believer. The work of sanctification will ultimately be completed in every believer's life when Jesus Christ returns. This is the hope of every Christian.
Paul puts it best in his epistle to the Thessalonians: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).