Sanctification:  Growing in Christ

Or - Can I Be Holy?

Sanctify means to set apart for a holy use.

Sanctification is the process of being made holy or Christ-like.

Holiness of God

Holiness begins with God because God is Holy.  Isaiah 6: 1 - 8.  Isaiah was a man of virtue; he would have been considered one of the most righteous in the entire nation of Israel.  Here he is called as a prophet in the year King Uzziah died.  Isaiah was in the temple in a time of mourning when he saw the King of Kings, the Lord, the real King of Israel sitting on the throne.  He sees the Seraphim calling out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord”. God's primary attribute is holiness.  When we say God is holy what do we mean?

The word Holy means separate or cut.  It is much more than moral purity. God is infinitely above and beyond us and everything else.  It includes purity but also points to God's infinite greatness and awesomeness.

What happened when Isaiah saw the Lord?  Why?  (Verse 5)


How is God's grace shown to Isaiah?  (Verses 6 - 8)


Holiness demonstrated in Jesus Christ.

Jesus was holy. He lived a perfect life, a life without sin. (See study on Jesus Christ.)  Christ's was without sin (John 8: 46), but His holiness went beyond just that. He came to do His Father's will and please Him John 8: 28.   Jesus perfectly met God's standards, not just in His actions but also is attitudes and motives and thoughts glorified the Father.

God calls us to be holy.  I Peter 1: 13 - 16 Because God is holy He calls those He has called and separated to Himself to separate themselves from all that displeases Him.

What does it mean for us to be holy?

Holiness involves separation from sin and what displeases God and identification with God and the things on God's heart. We are to (as Jesus did) live out holiness in a world of sinful men and women.  We are to reflect Him to the world around us.  Identify with people created in God's image whom He came to seek and save. There is nothing more unholy than a solitary Christian.  We cannot become holy by leaving the world.  Jesus' holiness manifested itself as He associated with sinners.  Jesus abstained from sin but also actively obeyed God by loving people.

The holiness God requires of us is also His gift to us.  God sanctifies sinners. (Exodus 31: 13, Lev. 20: 8, Lev. 21:8, Ephesians 5: 25 - 27, I Corinthians 6: 11, Hebrews 10: 10, I Corinthians 1: 2)  This is our position in Christ.  We are saints.  We do not live holy lives in order to become saints. We are saints therefore we live holy lives.

Sanctification is also progressive.  It is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in the believer where we grow in grace.  It is a life long process.  We cooperate in God's sanctifying work.  No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his or her life; God's Spirit makes it possible.  But no one will obtain a degree of holiness without cooperating by actively obeying God.  God makes provision for holiness but also gives us the responsibility for it.

The Role of the Holy Spirit

God has given us His Holy Spirit (see study on the Holy Spirit).  He is at work in us to strengthen us with His mighty power.  We are now alive to God (Ephesians 2: 5, Colossians 2: 9 - 13).  We have spiritual life and have been given a new heart (man) (Ephesians 4: 24).  The Spirit also dealt a deathblow to sin; its power is broken (Romans 6: 1 - 14).  Sin no longer reigns.  When the Christian fights sin he opposes a dethroned and doomed foe.  We need to realize that we possess a power that nothing can frustrate. However weak I am, as a Christian, the infinite power of God is at work in me.  The Holy Spirit is present in us to oppose indwelling sin. He convicts, helps us understand and apply the Word of God, gives us the desire to obey and strengthens us so we can obey.  We are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit.

The Role of Man

The Christian is not passive in the process of sanctification. God works and we also work.  But we work because God works (Phil. 2: 12- 13). 

The Christian is involved in a lifelong battle. (Romans 7: 15 - 25, Galatians 5: 16  - 25)  Our sin nature has not yet been eliminated.  We struggle with our fallen nature every day. Sin remains (survives) but does not reign. We are to mortify (put to death) sin (Colossians 3: 1 - 5, Romans 6: 11 - 14).  We are to actively count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. We are to starve our desires for sin by repenting and refusing to sin.  We are also to feed our relationship with Christ (and our souls) by studying the Bible, filling our minds with truth, by spending time with Christ in prayer and obeying Him.  God prepare good works for us to walk in (Ephesians 2: 2 - 10) but God has given us the responsibility of doing the walking. He will not do that for us.  Obedience is a response to God's love and grace (Titus 2: 11 - 14).

Permission is granted to use this Bible Study outline for personal study and small groups only. 

Study written by Bob Krepps  © 1994 all rights reserved


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