(Ask the Pastor is a weekly series that appears in the Northwest Baptist Church Sunday Bulletin. This question and others in this series are submitted from those who attend Northwest Baptist Church)
Question: What is sanctification? – Guyla
Answer: Sanctification is a very important truth. In fact, it is the will of God for your life. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). The root of the word sanctification means “to be set apart” or “to be made holy.” It is a process that begins the moment one is born again. God loves us just the way we are, but He refuses to leave us like that. He wants us to be just like Jesus. So sanctification is how God matures, develops and changes us to be the people He wants us to be.
What does God want us to be? Really it’s not a “what” but a “who.” Who does God want us to be like? He wants us to be like Jesus! This is what Paul wrote to the Romans, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29) Jesus is the mold for our sanctification. God wants us to act like Jesus. He wants us to love like Jesus. He wants us to have joy like Jesus. He wants us to have peace like Jesus. He wants us to be patient like Jesus. He wants us to be kind like Jesus. He wants us to be like Jesus in every way. How does God change us? He does this through His Word. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17) Sanctification comes through obedience to God’s Word, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
This change does not happen overnight, does it? It is a journey that sees progress with each passing day. Hopefully, you can look back at your life and see a change. If your life has been changed, and you are not the same person you once were, that is the evidence of sanctification. Nobody will ever fully be like Jesus in this lifetime. Nobody can ever claim that they have “arrived.” However, it will be a work that will one day be completed. One day we will be just like Jesus. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) This work of sanctification will be completed “when we see him.” John writes, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2).