3 Sanctification: What Does the Lord Expect of Us? PDF Print E-mail

Prof. Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (August 2010)

3. The reforming of our whole life

The Lord’s call to holiness includes every aspect of our lives: “As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Pet. 1:15). Paul further elaborates on the full extent of sanctification in order to avoid any doubt on this subject: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24). He can and will do a complete work in us.

The areas of our life which are to be sanctified include our spirit, soul and body, i.e. our entire existence as humans. The spiritual life of a Christian is characterised by faith, hope and love. When he is wholly sanctified all these attributes are considerably enhanced. We should have a strong and unwavering faith, being built up in our most holy faith (Jude v. 20), lest we remain people with little faith who are tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14). We must have a firm faith and strong trust in the Lord Jesus, not only for His second coming but also for the provision of our daily needs. “…Rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13). We must also become perfect in our love as the Holy Spirit pours out the love of God in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). We should be grounded and rooted in this love, so that it can control all our actions.

The soul of man includes his will, mind and emotions. Through sanctification we are enabled to subject ourselves completely to the will of the Lord and to pursue it single-mindedly. Paul counsels the Colossians to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Col. 4:12). The Lord wants to sanctify our mind so we can have the mind of Christ (Col. 2:16). The Holy Spirit helps us to achieve this goal by giving us enlightened eyes of our understanding to be able to know what our spiritual heritage is (Eph. 1:18). Our emotions also come under the control of the Holy Spirit to experience the joy of the Lord in our lives and to obtain the spiritual strength and self-control to resist negative, fleshly emotions. Our entire temperament should be that of a true Christian.

The body of a person is also an important part of his sanctification. Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:1-2). We should take care of our bodies, keep them clean, fit and healthy, and present our members as instruments of righteousness in the service of God. Never conform to the world, including dishonourable forms of clothing, eating and drinking habits. Paul asks, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Cor. 3:16-17). There are people who defile this temple by unhealthy and excessive eating habits, the use of drugs, including tobacco and liquor, the bringing on of tattoos, etc. Such people are not examples of holiness as they harm their own lives and set a bad example to others.

Holiness is not something which we can enforce upon a person from the outside by instituting legalistic rules, etc. We should proclaim the biblical doctrine of sanctification as only then would people behave differently because of changed inner convictions. A spiritual inclination should be instilled in them to conform their attitudes, dispositions and actions to the image of their Saviour.