Sanctification Basics (Or Peace Like A River)

June 28, 2010


By Louis Berkhof

1. Nature and Characteristics of Sanctification. Sanctification may be defined as that gracious and continuous operation of the Holy Spirit by which, He purifies the sinner, renews his whole nature in the image of God, and enables him to perform good works. It differs from justification in that it takes place in the inner life of man, is not a legal but a recreative act, is usually a lengthy process, and never reaches perfection in this life. While it is very decidedly a supernatural work of God, the believer can and should co-operate in it by a diligent use of the means which God has placed at his disposal, II Cor. 7:1; Col. 3:5-14; I Pet. 1:22. Sanctification does not consist in a mere drawing out of what is already given in regeneration, but serves to strengthen, to increase, and to fortify the new life. It consists of two parts: the gradual removal of the pollution and corruption of human nature, Rom. 6:6; Gal. 5:24, and the gradual development of the new life in consecration to God, Rom. 6:4, 5; Col. 2:12; 3:1, 2; Gal. 2:19. While it takes place in the heart of man, it naturally affects the whole life, Rom. 6:12; I Cor. 6:15 20; I Thess. 6:23. The change in the inner man is bound to carry with it a change in the outer life. That man must co-operate in the work of sanctification follows from the repeated warnings against evils and temptations, Rom. 12:9, 16, 17; I Cor. 6:9, 10; Gal. 5:16-23, and from the constant exhortations to holy living, Micah 6:8; John 15:4- 7; Rom. 8:12, 13; 12:1, 2; Gal. 6:7, 8, 15.

a. Sanctification as a work of God:

I Thess. 5:23. “And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Heb. 2:11. “For both He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

b. Man’s co-operation in sanctification:

II Cor. 7:1. “Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Heb. 12:14. “Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord.”

c. The mortification of the old man:

Rom. 6:6. “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away, so that we should no longer be in bondage to sin.”

Gal. 6:24: “And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.”

d. The quickening of the new man:

Eph. 4:24. “And put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.”

Col. 3:10. “And have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him that created him.”

e. Sanctification incomplete in this life:

Rom. 7:18. “For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not.”

Phil. 3:12. “Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus.”

f. The nature of good works:

I Sam. 15:22. “And Samuel said, Hath Jehovah as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

I Cor. 10:31. “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Heb. 11:6. “And without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek after Him.”

g. Perseverance of the saints:

John 10:28, 29. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

II Tim. 1:12. “For which cause I suffer also these things: yet am I not ashamed; for I know Him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

II Tim. 4:18. “The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto His heavenly kingdom: to whom be the glory for ever and ever.”

The entire work that this part was taken from, “Summary of Christian Doctrine,” by Louis Berkof, marked up by Lance George Marshall, can be found at:

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