Sanctification

Written by Bill Amerson

There is probably no more difficult doctrinal concept for me to understand than sanctification.  Growing up in a strong Wesleyan Armenian faith family, I am very familiar with the word.  Sanctification was that second work of grace after justification.  As a kid, twice a year I attended revivals that lasted sometimes as long as two weeks.  On occasion I would attend holiness camp meetings.  I also participated in summer church camp and then chose to attend a Christian college where we had chapel services three times each week.  I heard a lot about sanctification.  Those experiences were instrumental in my faith development.  I heard the message of the need not only to be saved but to also be sanctified.  A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a blog about sanctification.  What an overwhelming request. I am no theologian. 
 
As a young person there was always an invitation to go forward and give your life to Christ or to get “sanctified”.  Sanctification was a moment in time where you could make another commitment to follow Jesus, but this experience of sanctification, as I understood, meant that you really meant business.  It was also called a “second work of grace”.  I can remember the old saints of the church would give testimony to the time and the place when they were sanctified.  I knew those saints.  They were Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, members of the choir, and dynamic members of the church.  What I saw in their life seemed genuine.  I didn’t go home with them or to work with them to see how they lived, but what I saw was a person who experienced a true change.  I had a close up glimpse of my parents who professed sanctification.  My parents were certainly holy people.  I saw them live their lives.  I don’t question that second work of grace or sanctification.
 
Well, what about me?  Have I been sanctified?  Have I been made holy?  We are told in 2 Corinthians that the Holy Spirit transforms us to be more like Jesus.  I certainly am more like Jesus than I am not like Jesus.  Also in 2 Corinthians 7:1 we are told that holiness is the transforming process when we reduce our inclination towards sin and disobedience.  I am a sinner saved by grace, but I still have an inclination to be disobedient or to sin.   I get angry too easily.  Does that mean I am not sanctified?  No, I don’t believe it does.  We live under Grace. 
 
I do believe that when we accept Christ and experience salvation that we start to become more like Christ.  We do not stay in our former sinful state.  I do believe we need to make a commitment to become more holy.  We begin to move toward perfection as Christ is perfect.  We will choose to avoid temptation.  We will make every attempt to respond to the cliché “What would Jesus do?”  We are then moving toward perfection.  We are becoming holy.  We are being sanctified.  I believe that is part of Wesley Chapel’s “discipleship pathway”.
 

Finally, Paul teaches us in 1 Thessalonians 5.  “Avoid every kind of evil.”  Paul says that “we are to be blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  And he promises God’s faithfulness.  So, where do I fit in with being holy and being sanctified?  I just have to trust the promises of God as I try to follow Jesus and desire to become more like Him.  I need to avoid every kind of evil.  Will I ever be perfect as Christ is perfect?  Probably not, but I believe we are to strive daily to be more like our Savior.  We are called to be holy or to become sanctified. 


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