Defining Christianese: Sanctification

As we discussed last week, the Church tends to use a different vocabulary than those who are unchurched. We’ve developed this sort of language–Christianese–that many people just don’t understand… And in all reality, many of our fellow believers don’t even understand some of our Christian words. So let’s take a moment to define another one of these words…

Sanctification. What does it mean to be sanctified? Well really, these are two different items to be examined here:

1) Sanctification, in essence, is the process in which a believer becomes more and more like Christ. It’s a progressive work… In other words, a brand new believer cannot be expected to immediately act like the Perfect One, Jesus; it’s a process. Remember the Scriptures: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) and “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

2) To be sanctified, on the other hand, would on the surface appear to argue that the “process of becoming like Christ” has been completed. In Hebrews 10:10, the author declares, “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” However, a reading which suggests that “the process” has been completed would be a misinterpretation, since humanity cannot achieve complete perfection like that of Christ. Therefore, “we have been sanctified” does not refer to the “process”; it refers to the “position.” In other words, when we receive Christ into our lives, he immediately declares righteousness over us. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone; the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

So Sanctification: the process of becoming more like Jesus. And to be sanctified: the position (or status) of belonging to Jesus.

So today, my concluding thought is this: the world is a dark, disgusting, sinful place filled with broken and hurting people; if God himself was willing to come meet us in the middle of our mess, then those of us dedicated to becoming more like him should be willing to do the same!

“Christ came not into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved” (Jn. 3:17). If we condemn even one person, not only do we walk in opposition to Christ’s purpose, but we walk in contradiction to God’s process… Oh that we might see people the way He sees them–as beautiful, righteous, loved sons and daughters of the living God!

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