We should endeavor to be Christ-like and do good works. However, we are not sanctified by our good works or clean living. Jesus sanctified us. To sanctify means: to purify or make holy, that is, to separate from the world and consecrate to God. Is it possible to have eternal salvation and not be sanctified? Of course not. Eternal salvation and eternal sanctification go together, one mandates the other. If sanctification required any effort on out part, then salvation would not be of grace.
In the Old Testament it means to purify in a physical sense…to make an animal sacrifice, to cleanse one’s mind, to wash, to cleanse a place of unclean things. It was physical work. Most of the time it was the individual person who did the sanctifying, sometimes it was someone else, and occasionally it was God who did the sanctifying. In the Old Testament a person had to make an animal sacrifice annually, this provided a temporary sanctification, perhaps one could call it progressive sanctification.
In the New Testament it means to purify, but in a spiritual sense. In the New Testament we see that it is God who does the sanctifying. In the New Testament an individual person does not do the sanctifying, he does not have this authority, it is only God who can sanctify. Read the New Testamant and you will not find one place where anyone sanctified himself. We cannot sanctify ourselves. Sanctification is required for salvation, but without any work on our part; Jesus did it all.
Arminians have a doctrine that Christans can lose their salvation, therefore, they require that they continue performing good works in order to make it to heaven. They believe they must continually be Christ-like in order to maintain their holiness, their sanctification.
Calvinists believe that since God has determined who will get saved and that they cannot resist His call, they are unconditionally and eternally secure in that election. This sounds a little like eternal security but that is not what it means. They have a doctrine called Perseverance of the Saints, that the elect will always do right, but if a person continues to sin after he is saved, then he was never saved in the first place.
They say that God will progressively sanctify an elect person to be Christ-like. Progressive Sanctification and Perseverance of the Saints go together like sin and stink. Calvinists and Arminians say that we are positionally sanctified the moment that we get saved, and on this point they are right, but then they go on and contradict themselves and say that from this point on we are progressively sanctified throughout the remainder of our earthly lives. This is an error because we are eternally sanctified, not progressively sanctified.
Calvinists equate our clean living with sanctification. A Christian should endeavor to avoid sin and to be as Christ-like as possible, but these efforts on our part are not what sanctify us. Hebrews 10:10 says, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Here the Bible says we are sanctified once through the body of Christ, and if the Bible is true then we cannot be progressively sanctified. According to what God says we are sanctified how many times? Hold up one finger. Just before Jesus died He said, “…it is finished.”
We should avoid sin and live clean lives, but some unsaved individuals live cleaner, more sin free lives than some saints. Does this mean these unsaved people are sanctified? No.
Satan deceives people with the Progressive Sanctification heresy, which means that sinners gradually become holy after they believe in Jesus. Progressive Sanctification is adhered to by those who believe in the fifth point of Calvinism, the P in TULIP, Perseverance of the Saints.
The crux of this theory is gradual sanctification. It sounds great that man can believe in Jesus and gradually become a holier Christian. This theory has deceived many Christians over the years, making them feel secure. It sounds almost like we work our way to heaven. That’s one reason why there are so many Pharisaical, holier-than-thou Christians in Christendom.
In Romans 8:30, “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” People who support Progressive Sanctification say that this verse proves that there are steps in the process of sanctification. This is one of the Calvinist’s favorite verses.
The Progressive Sanctification theory says that the moment when we believe in Jesus our sins committed up until that time are forgiven, but when we sin again we need to be sanctified again by praying and asking forgiveness as stated in I John 1: 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But this is what an unsaved person must do. If Progressive Sanctification were true it would mean that Jesus would have to get back up on the cross and die for us again every time we sin. But the fact is that we are sanctified once for all, according to Hebrews 10:10. Sin does not make us unsanctified, but it will break our fellowship with our Father.
The moment that we believe in Christ, we have forgiveness for all our sins; past, present, and future.
I John 2:12, I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.
Ephesians 1:7, In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Colossians 1:14, In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Colossians 2:13, And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
If God has forgiven those of us who have been born again, for all our sins past, present, and future, why would we continue to ask for forgiveness, unless we really don’t believe what God says in the Bible?
‘Uh, Sorry About That’: “Man Pleads Guilty to Murder, Apologizes” —Daily Sentinel (Nacogdoches, TX) Some people have the foolish notion that they can commit a sin then just tell God they’re sorry and that makes everything all right. That’s what the believers in Progressive Sanctification say. But, to restore fellowship with God it takes more than just confessing it and saying you’re sorry, it takes repentance. Repentance means to not only change your mind about what you are doing, but to also turn away from it. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” If a man is shacking up with a woman, simply saying, “I’m sorry God,” just won’t do. It requires that you get out of that sinful situation. But this will only restore fellowship; the man’s sanctification was never taken away.
Now someone who has sat under Calvinistic teaching is going to say, “What about Phillippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” This is a very good verse but it has nothing to do with Progressive Sanctification. This verse pertains to our salvation, and our glorious inheritance.
This next verse pertains to the same thing: Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” We have Holy Spirit power working in us, convicting us of sin, but Jesus has already sanctified us once for all.
Hebews 13:12, “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” Who might sanctify the people? Jesus! With His blood! We do not and cannot sanctify ourselves.
Hebews 2:11, “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,” He that sanctifieth…that’s Jesus! Note the word sanctified, it is past tense.
Hebews 10:10, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” We are sanctified, past tense.
Hebews 10:14, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Are sanctified…present tense! Are presently sanctified, not are being sanctified. We are sanctified for how long? “…for ever.”
Hebews 10:29, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Was sanctified, not are being sanctified.
Romans 15:16, “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” In this case “being sanctified” is the past perfect tense, which means that it is already accomplished, we are already sanctified.
1 Corinthians 1:2, “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” Are sanctified…present tense.
1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Are sanctified…present sense.
II Thessalonians 2:13, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” Sanctification of the Spirit, according to John F. Walvoord ThD., means sanctification by the Spirit.
1 Peter 1:2, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” Sanctification of, or by, the Spirit.
1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” We are told here to be holy, to be Christ-like, but is anyone really Christ-like? Not in this life in the flesh. We should endeavor to be holy as Christ is holy, but Romans 3:12-18 is still in the Bible, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” None of us are holy, or sanctified, because of our own efforts, nor can we be.
Hebews 12:14, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” Holiness has the same root meaning as sanctification. We should endeavor to be holy, to be Christ-like, to live sanctified lives, but we have seen that we cannot attain the holiness that our just God requires. That’s why Jesus had to die for us. We cannot see the Lord unless we accept the sanctification which He has provided for us, and reject self-sanctification.
Hebews 10:29, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Oh my! How angry God must be if we count the blood of Christ an unholy thing and endeavor to sanctify ourselves through our own self-righteousness.
Romans 6:22, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” We have our fruit unto holiness. And “the end.”
2 Corinthians 7:1, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Yes, let us cleanse ourselves by accepting the pure white robes that God provides. The sanctification that counts is provided by what Christ did by dying as our substitute. We cannot cleanse ourselves as God requires, Isa 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” If all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, then we cannot get sanctified except by the one sanctification that Jesus has already provided. As we have seen however, we should make a genuine effort to live consecrated lives.
Through a proper repentant and loving attitude we may progressively become more Christ-like but we will never become more sanctified. Don’t fall for Satan’s Progressive Sanctification heresy.