Sanctification Has Two Aspects

Heb 13:12 reads “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” “Sanctify” means (according to Thayer) – “to purify … free from the guilt of sin.” II Cor 7:1 verifies this definition – “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness (form of the same Greek word) in the fear of God”

We see from Heb 13:12 then that we are purified (cleansed) by the blood of Christ. We can be forgiven of our sins because Jesus died for us. I Cor 15:3 says “Christ died for our sins.” This is something God does for us.

But the same basic Greek word is translated “holy” in I Pet 1:16 – “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” This is something we have to do. So there are two aspects to Sanctification. One is what God does. He purifies (forgives) us from our sins when we obey the gospel. The second is what we do. We must then live a sanctified, clean, holy life.  I Thess 4:3 puts our part in our sanctification this way “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:”

I like how II Pet 2:22 illustrates these two important aspects – “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” A Christian falling back into sin (verse 20) is said to be like washing a pig and then letting that pig go right back into the mud. The point is – what good does it do to wash a pig if you don’t pin him up to keep him out of the mud? He is just going to get muddy again. The parallel being made is: What good does it do for a sinner to be forgiven of all his sins if he is just going to go right back to living the ways of the world? In either case, nothing really is accomplished.

So let’s talk about these two aspects of sanctification. First, what God does for us. He forgives us of our sins based upon the death of Christ. Notice:

· Heb 9:22b “without shedding of blood is no remission.”

· Matt 26:28 “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Those two verses in combination show there is no way we could be saved without the death of Christ. It wouldn’t matter how many times we went to church, it wouldn’t matter how many times we read the Bible from cover to cover, how many times we got baptized, how many times we helped a little old lady across the street; we can’t be saved without the death of Christ. We owe everything to Him spiritually.

But just when does that washing away of sins take place? In Acts 22:16 Ananias told Saul “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” We all agree the blood of Christ is what washes away our sins, but when does it wash away our sins? For the apostle Paul, it was not when he believed in Jesus on the road to Damascus but it was three days later when he was baptized.

Peter told believers in Acts 2:38 “… Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” So we are not forgiven of our sins until we are baptized; that is, we must trust and obey just like the famous hymn says.

Acts 2:38 leads into our next point. The second aspect of sanctification is what we do. As a Christian we must live a sanctified, holy life. Acts 2:38 says a believer must repent and be baptized to get the forgiveness of sins. So baptism won’t do us a bit of good if we don’t repent of our sins first. Repentance here means changing our life in regard to sin. We make up our minds to quite serving sin and start serving Christ. Rom 6:17-18 says as much – “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” When a sinner becomes a Christian, he commits to quit serving sin and start serving righteousness. And God expects us to follow through on that commitment.

Remember I Pet 1:16? – “Be ye holy; for I am holy”? As a Christian we are supposed to start living the holy, clean, sanctified lifestyle. God is not going to force us to do that; it is up to us.

I Cor 6:9-11 says “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” See how they used to practice those sins but quit to become a Christian? When they made up their minds to live a sanctified/holy life, they were sanctified/forgiven by God according to verse 11.

listen to my Bible Crossfire radio program on “Sanctification Has Two Aspects” at

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