What It Means to Be Sanctified
Updated: Feb 1
To be sanctified means “separated for God’s use.” Dictionary.com defines sanctify as a verb. It is an action word, meaning, “To make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate.” The act or process of sanctification is done by God, although we play a part. In the Old Testament, one will find these words, "And the LORD said unto Moses, "Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai"(Exodus 19:10-11). It is God and his word that sanctifies us, although we have a part to play. We are, indeed, “laborers together with God” (I Corinthians 3:9). For this cause, in the Old Testament text, the word of God, there, to the children of Israel was for the purpose of officially establishing a covenant with them. Essentially, a covenant paraphrased is “if you do this, then I will do that.” The covenant simply reiterates that we are to be laborers together with God.
So, what is sanctification: it is the outcome of a fellowship between God and man.
Now, in regards to man’s claim to have fellowship with God, the word of God clears any false assertions or beliefs, saying, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (I John 1:5-6). So for one to have fellowship with God, one has to be walking, living, trusting, and abiding in God’s word. In fact, it has to be God’s holy word. Therefore, the scripture writer continues his statement saying, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). Fellowship with God is a matter of salvation and sanctification (John 17:3; I Corinthians 1:30) because it is a matter of God’s saving grace (John 1:17; Ephesians 2:8). Again, ultimately, It is God the Father and his Word that does the sanctifying, although we do have a part to participate. For, the following New Testament scriptures plainly identify this matter of being sanctified.
A portion of Christ’s closing prayer unto the Father is as follows: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:17-19). God and both the living Word are doing the sanctifying for the benefit of the disciples—all followers of Christ both then and the ones to come (John 17:20). Nevertheless, Christ immediately attaches the conflict or significance of his statements of being sanctified, both saying, your word is truth, and, As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Honestly, Christ makes it known the adversity that comes with being in Christ. To say things differently, he again shines light on this thing of being sanctified.
To precisely utilize Christ’s word to delineate and define what it means to be sanctified, revisit its means, and to identify its purpose, I will use a parable that Christ provides.
The Parable of the Sower
The word of God says,
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:3-9)
First, we must keep in mind that Christ says, your word is truth, and, As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth, referring back to Christ’s word that he prayed to the Father before his disciples (John 17:1, 117-19). He says this because when God saves us, washes away our sins, he places us into his kingdom. This is salvation (how God sees things) and what takes place spiritually within us and in the spirit realm (John 3:3; Ephesians 1:3-6; Colossians 1:12-14). He calls this activity a mystery (Matthew 13:10-11). And so, the scriptures continue, where the Lord proceeds to make his words plain, saying,
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:18-23)
According to the parable, the seed is the word of the kingdom. Now, the significance of this is that the sower has to be delivering God’s word—his holy word. This has to remain consistent whenever one endeavors to glean strength by way of the word of God in the believer’s life (John 6:53-57, 61-63; Matthew 4:4). Whatsoever sower that is to be the means of sowing seed has to be delivering the word of the kingdom.
And so, the parable of the sower is utilized to teach and to show this phenomenon of being sanctified.
The salvation of the soul by bringing one into God’s kingdom is good news—the gospel. But what is good news unto mankind is bad news unto our spiritual enemy. Thus, sowers must be wary that we are delivering the word of the kingdom. And, this will not be if we are not walking in the light as he is in the light (I John 1:7). We cannot preach this word of the kingdom if we have not the victory of the kingdom. Therefore, we must take great heed to the sower (I Thessalonians 5:12, 21; James 3:1; II Timothy 2:15; I John 4:1).
The way side – The first hearer listed of the parable are those who heard the word but did not understand. What to be taken from this is that the word of the kingdom is not as the theology, wisdom, or teaching of this world (I Corinthians 3:18-21; James 3:14-18). The word of the kingdom is of the power of God. It is of the knowledge of God. It is of love, hope, and trust. Therefore, the hearer of the way side falls short of understanding due to darkness (II Corinthians 4:3-4).
Stony places – This hearer hears the word and receives the word greatly with joy. However, the individual does not have the foundational means of abiding despite adversity. In the parable, Christ informs that the enemy (fowls of the air) swoops in to devour the word from settling on the way side hearer being that they did not understand. But in this stony place hearer, he informs that their plight is the lack of a suitable foundation because tribulation shall arise due to the word being received in their lives. Again, the gravity of each sower sowing the very word of the kingdom is prevalent and very serious throughout this parable. One can receive the word of the kingdom from one sower and become born again into the “kingdom of his dear Son,” but the sower that one returns to for the purpose of living this new life of the word of the kingdom is unable to adequately build upon the previous sower’s foundation in that hearer’s life (I Corinthians 3:10-11; I Corinthians 1:10-11; I Peter 4:11). The result is that hearer being left not having root, the proper nourishment being supplied for them, in order to outlast the adversity of life and that our spiritual enemy shall bring because of the word of the kingdom.
Albeit, the failure of the stony places is not ultimately altogether on the sower. The Bible says, “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:4-5). Christ makes it known that the good shepherd shall first practice what they preach; that they shall first demonstrate the victory of the kingdom along with their delivery of the word of the kingdom: and when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them. Therefore the word of God showcases the responses of what shall be; that his sheep shall not follow a stranger—one who is not delivering the godly word of the kingdom: while, on the other hand, his sheep shall follow the shepherd who is leading them by Christ’s voice and their actions. So he says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
What the word of God shows is that the hearers have a certain level of discernment to be able to identify the voice of Christ or another’s. “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the anointing teacheth you all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him,” the word of God says (I John 2:27). The anointing that the word of God speaks of here is the Holy Ghost that one receives at the point of salvation (Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13; John 16:13). Furthermore, in relation to this discernment of the hearer, the word of God instructs, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (I Peter 2:10). So, yes, the stony place hearer can greatly hear the word of the kingdom, receiving it with joy: yet, it is also their responsibility to remain on the same path of that very same voice. And, for the sake of their well-being, they are to obey that good shepherd’s voice, which is to have faith. The word says:
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48he is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:46-49)
Seed among the thorns – The hearer who hears the word, but there is a but. This hearer opts out of having faith. The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches rend them of the word of the kingdom. To advance in God requires faith, but these hearers cannot see the forest for the trees. Instead of receiving the word of the kingdom, they give space for the sensibleness of their eyes. This life robs them of receiving the word of the kingdom due to a lack of faith. In most instances, faith is the missing element of an unwilling hearer. Faith is trust. It is trust in God. Faith is what causes one to go out on a limb. Faith is the opposite of pride. It is the component in this life that evokes great humility. For this cause, the Bible, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Without faith, we will not allow God to have his way in our lives. These hearers refuse faith but will receive the word of the kingdom. And because they have received the word of the kingdom ( in theory), they believe that they are okay with God. But God sees the whole story, even saying, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). Many hearers hear the word of the kingdom, but it stops there because they refuse faith: and faith is what it takes to wholly inhabit the word of the kingdom in one’s life. “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it,” the Lord says (Luke 11:28). For, many refuse faith because they think too highly of themselves: therefore, they deny the spirit of Christ which comes with life into God’s will by way of the word of the kingdom (John 14:6; Philippians 2:5-8). Hearers refuse faith because they refuse to be humble to a certain degree—meaning looking a certain way, feeling a certain way, seeming a certain way, being treated a certain way, or actually being a certain way. Many are unwilling. They refuse that. While on the other hand, Christ commends such willingness (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 10: 46-52; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 7:36-50; Matthew 16:24-25). He calls this meekness, lowliness, and such great belief “faith.”
One can be a sower, providing the word of the kingdom, but in their speech also not teach faith, which is what enables one to partake in the kingdom. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in the hope of God” (Romans 5:1-2). The scripture tells us that it is by faith that we have access in this grace, which is the good news—the word of the kingdom that we hear and receive and may even rejoice towards. If we have not faith, the case of the seed among the thorns is that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches shall suffocate the very goodness that they had received, believed, and possessed. For, the gleaning of the word of the kingdom is a matter of faith. It is a matter of being open unto God so that one may become that word. It is a matter of “seeking those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God, setting your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1; Matthew 6:32-34).
Good ground – The hearer hears the word, but the difference is that they understand it. Here, there again are two factors that either prohibit or propel the hearer’s understanding. One factor is upon the hearer. There is a certain level of faith at work. The grace of God enlightens one as they advance in God by way of their belief. The Bible says, “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). This growth is the bearing of fruits that the Lord is looking for (John 15:1-2, 8). It is God’s will that we all bear much fruit because God is able (Ephesians 3:20; Romans 8:37). Yet, although this group is the only one to bear fruit, the amount of fruit that they bear varies. We must observe the resilient relentlessness of the enemy. We must recognize the grotesque depravity of mankind, who is in desperate need of God’s Spirit of grace (Philippians 2:13; II Peter 1:1-4). These of the good ground understand to various degrees that to thrive and to abide in God’s kingdom requires a renewed mind. To various degrees, they comprehend that the Just shall live by their faith (Habakkuk 2:4). And, those who come to produce much fruit live embracing faith, knowing that faith is not what they see or how they but is a matter of their belief and trust in God. They understand that God’s thoughts are not their thoughts, neither are their ways God’s ways (Isaiah 55:8). These recognize that “He must increase, but they must decrease” (John 3:30).
Therefore, the second factor is that the sower plays a vital role in providing good ground. “I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15). If one is not a shepherd (John 10:1-2), they cannot perpetuate, elaborate on, or stimulate the word of the kingdom in the hearer’s life. Contrariwise, they will play a part in the hearer’s life of getting robbed by the enemy. For, there are many robbers and thieves (John 10:1). They can parrot the word of the kingdom but is unable to adequately and soundly preach and teach nor to stand on it, live, or defend it. They have no part with him because they refuse to allow God to cleanse their way: and their way becomes clean by taking heed to the word of God (John 13:8; Psalm 119:9).
To Be Sanctified is to be separated for God’s use.
One must understand that to be sanctified is a matter of worship. It is the display of a renewed mind. It is a matter of God being exalted and glorified. It is to not only be separated, but it is for God’s use: and, his use is a matter of faith. It is obedience unto him, our love and trust in who he is. His usage may not be how or what we would choose, but because we have cooperated with God’s sanctifying of our lives, we are able to successfully avail ourselves because we understand what is God’s will for our lives (Ephesians 5:15-18; I Peter 4:12-14). Amen. Be encouraged. Be blessed. Be sanctified—much love.