Sanctification: Set Apart to Grow Up in Christ

The Christian life is illustrated by Jesus in John 15. God the Father is the Vinedresser, who picks up the chosen dead branch (those who are dead in sin because of Adam being cut off). He grafts the branch into Christ, the second Adam. The life of the true Vine, Christ, gives new life to the branch now in union with Him. It is the Holy Spirit that flows from the true Vine into each branch. The result is a growing branch, that is, a Christian who produces more and more spiritual fruit (Gal 5:22–23).

Those who are not in union with Jesus Christ are unrighteous, ungodly, unholy, waiting as dead branches to be thrown into the fire. Obviously, apart from Christ, these can do nothing pleasing to God because they remain unbelievers, who glorify God, by being objects of His justice against sinners. In His wisdom and for His own purposes, the Vinedresser did not pick these branches up, nor graft them into Jesus Christ.

To be saved means that one is set apart from sin and death, which lead to judgment and punishment. Men fear death because of the consequences to their lawless rebellion against God and His anointed, Jesus Christ (Ps 2; 1 Jn 3:4). This is a legitimate fear because of the eternal nature of God’s just punishment of unrepentant sinners (Mt 25:41, 46; Jude 7). Because of their love of sin and darkness (Jn 3:19), people do not fear God, rather, they hate God, Christ, and Christians (Jn 7:7; 15:18–19; Rom 1:30).

Salvation is a re-positioning (Col 1:13). It is a profound transformation (Rom 12:2). The contrast is as stark as light and darkness, life and death. It is as radical as a heart transplant (Ezek 36:26).

It is by God’s doing that this juxtaposition, from enmity to peace with God, occurs for the sinner become a saint (1 Cor 1:30). The God of peace sanctifies the saint, entirely (1 Thess 5:23). He who began this good work has promised to complete it (Phil 1:6), being both the author and perfecter of the Christian’s faith (Heb 12:2). The end goal objective for her is to be holy and blameless before Him at His coming (Eph 1:4; 5:27; Col 1:22).

Being “in Christ” is the Christian’s sanctified position. This is a sure and secure placement because it is the work of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16). From the beginning, God chose a people for salvation (2 Thess 2:13), who would be washed clean of sin (1 Cor 6:11), being sanctified by the blood of Christ (Heb 13:12), sprinkled upon them by the Spirit (1 Pet 1:2).

The Trinity is at work, conforming the sanctified into the image of God’s only begotten Son, our Lord (Rom 8:29). In sanctifying His people, Yahweh promised He would be sanctified (Lev 22:32). In other words, as God does His work in His holy nation (1 Pet 2:9), men fear Him who is holy (Is 8:13). As He causes His chosen one to walk in His statutes (Ezek 36:37), His promise is, “You shall keep My statutes and practice them, I am the Lord who sanctifies you (Lev 20:8).”

God’s will is for His royal priests to be sanctified (1 Thess 4:3), and Jesus prayed that His own would be sanctified by the truth (Jn 17:17). God’s Word is truth (Ps 119:160; Jn 14:6). It is the Word that washes us like water (Eph 5:26). It is the Word of His grace that builds up the saint among those who are sanctified (Acts 20:32).

God the Father sanctified and sent Jesus, the Son of God (Jn 10:36), who sanctifies His brethren (Heb 2:11), by His cleansing blood (Heb 9:13–14), offered once for all of His people and all of their sins (Heb 10:10, 14). Without this sanctification, no one sees the Lord (Heb 12:14). In other words, Jesus sanctified Himself so that His elect, redeemed would be sanctified (Jn 17:19).

Thus, the sanctifier and the sanctified are both from one Father (Heb 2:11), who commands us to be holy as He is holy (Lev 11:44–45; 19:2; 1 Pet 1:16). As we have noted, this begins by re-positioning the sinner into the righteousness of Christ. The sinner is no longer a slave to sin (Rom 6:6), but now he is a slave of righteousness (Rom 6:19), resulting in sanctification and the outcome, eternal life (Rom 6:22).

The slave of Christ (Eph 6:6), sanctified by Christ’s blood and the water of His Word, serves His Master, as a vessel of honor (2 Tim 2:21), performing every good work prepared beforehand for him by God (Eph 2:10). Everything he does, serving in humble gratitude, is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer (1 Tim 4:4–5), in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:11). God is at work in and through the saint, to do His will and good pleasure (Eph 1:11; Phil 2:13).

Safe and secure in Christ, the Father’s loving discipline chastens His sons to maturity (Heb 12:4–11). The mature man has the stature belonging to the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13). His diet is the milk of the Word leading to the meat of the Word, solid food (Heb 5:14).

The child of God grows up on a steady diet of the knowledge of Christ (2 Pet 3:18), leading to the wisdom of God (Prv 8; 1 Cor 1:24), first spoken to him, then spoken by him (1 Cor 2:6). His thoughts, having been given the mind of Christ, are spiritually mature (1 Cor 14:20). He does not remain in the elementary teaching (Heb 6:1), nor in the impurity of sinful flesh (1 Thess 4:7) but possessing his own vessel in sanctification and honor (1 Thess 4:4), he walks according to the Spirit (Rom 8:5–7; Gal 5:25), who indwells him (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11).

The Spirit of holiness constrains us, in love (2 Cor 5:14), to cleanse ourselves from all defilements of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor 7:1). Serving God without fear, all of our days (Lk 1:74–75), in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph 4:24), we are growing up with the brethren into a holy temple in the Lord (Eph 2:21).

The sanctified seventh day (Gen 2:3) has always served God’s people as the promise of eternal rest. In holiness and without blame before Him at His coming (1 Thess 3:13), today, we press on with this high calling, by His grace, in the obedience of faith (Rom 1:4–5), for the sake of His holy name. His is the name above every other name, and a name He has given to us, the sanctified, who belong to Him and soon to be glorified…forever.

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

February 25, 2021

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher