I would like to use this article to explain the Biblical term “sanctification”, a term which is very much misunderstood in our modern world, especially in the Church. I do not want to put down any denomination or teaching on sanctification. I simply want to look at what the Word of God teaches on the subject. If your denomination teaches a differing view on the subject then please do not be offended, I am not sharing my opinion but instead the Word of God. If your denomination differs from the Word of God then you must take that up with your respective denomination. I live in a predominantly Orthodox country where people know of the word “sanctify” but do not understand its meaning or how one becomes sanctified. The reason being is that the Orthodox Church does not follow the teaching of the Bible for sanctification and instead follows the traditions of men. Again, I do not denounce or criticize the Orthodox Church, I just want to present what the Bible clearly teaches on the subject.
Some denominations teach that things can be sanctified by a priest; such as cars, houses, drinking fountains, etc. The Bible teaches about spiritual sanctification, accomplished in the lives of people and not things. Let’s take a look at the clear teachings of both the Old and New Testaments. We will begin with the Old and then move to the New, keeping in mind that the God of the Old is also the God of the New. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The Old Testament, Hebrew word for “sanctification” is “Qadash” and its meaning is as follows: to be set aside, separate, consecrated, different from everything else, and prepared for something. When God talks about His people, the Nation of Israel, being sanctified He means that they are different from all other people with a purpose. He is speaking in a spiritual sense. Let’s see what sanctification looks like according to the Word of God. We find the word “qadash” in Exodus translated into English as “holy”.
And now if you will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to Me above all the nations; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the sons of Israel. (Exo 19:5-6)
God gives a clear list of what sanctified people are like and what they do.
- They hear the voice of God.
- They are obedient to God.
- This relationship makes them different from the rest of humanity.
- The entire nation is to be made up of priests.
- The entire nation is to be holy.
- They share the Words of God with others.
In order to hear the voice of God we do not have to wait for a miracle from heaven. All that we have to do is open the Bible, the Word of God, and we come face to face with the voice of God, His will. If we do not study the Word then we cannot be in a position to obey It. How often do you open the Word of God and come face to face with the will of God? Is it a priority in your life? Do you claim to be a Christian (sanctified person) yet do not have a burning passion for Bible study? Or, are you a student of the Bible, reading and studying but not applying what you learn? True Christians are those who study and apply on a daily basis. Does your denomination teach that there are only certain people who are to be servants and the rest just attend services? If so then you need to really take a close look at what your denomination teaches and what the Word of God teaches. Do you have a burning desire to share the Word of God with others? If not, what does that say about you? Are you truly a Christian (sanctified person)?
I would like to look at another Old Testament passage that gives even more insight into what a sanctified person looks like.
You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and do them, so that the land where I bring you to live shall not spit you out. And you shall not walk in the ways of the nation which I cast out before you. For they committed all these things, and therefore I loathed them. But I have said to you, You shall inherit their land, and I, I am giving it to you to possess it, a land that flows with milk and honey. I am Jehovah your God, who has separated you from the nations. And you shall make a difference between clean animals and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean. And you shall not defile your souls by beast, or by fowl, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And you shall be holy to Me. For I, Jehovah, am holy, and have severed you from the nations, so that you should be Mine. (Lev 20:22-26)
God explains what true believers do here in this passage. True believers, sanctified people, keep the commands of the Word of God. In other words, they know what God wants from them and they obey. They do not live like the nations (controlled by sin). If you were to read the list of “sins” practiced by the nations, the hair on the back of your neck would stand up. Here is a list from the first 21 verses of Leviticus 20:
- sacrificing their children to false gods
- idolatry (placing anything above your relationship with God)
- mediums (those who communicate with the dead/psychics/horoscope)
- despising their parents (wishing them evil, trying to cause them evil, neglecting them)
- father’s wife
- wife and her mother
- brother’s wife
Are any of these sins present as a habit in your life? The people of God, who study the Word and apply It know how to distinguish between what is clean (good) and what is unclean (evil). Do you view the world through the lens of the Word of God, seeing black as black and white as white? Or do live by the popular teaching of the times, that everything is relevant, black can be white as long as you believe it to be? According to God’s Word, sin is sin and it is wrong no matter what. Adultery is always wrong. Cohabitation is always wrong, no matter the excuse. A person cannot live a homosexual lifestyle and be a Christian, do you believe that or are you deceived by the modern thought that it is possible to live a homosexual lifestyle and be a Christian?
One could argue “yes but all of that is for the Nation of Israel because it is from the Old Testament, we live in the New Testament which has different requirements.” If that is your question then I want to invite you to read the next article which will deal with sanctification according to the New Testament.