Sanctification 101


Sanctification. I still remember hearing the word for the first time as a child and wondering what it meant because its meaning wasn’t instantly clear. Justification made sense, somewhat, simply because I had heard the word “justify” before. However, the word “sanctify” wasn’t likely to be part of a primary school vocabulary—particularly since I went to a state school.

“It means to make holy or set apart,” a kindly adult later explained. But that definition didn’t make the word any more comprehendible to my adolescent mind. What was being made holy? How did it get made holy? And what did setting something apart have to do with anything?

If He gives you the grace to make you believe, He will give you the grace to live a holy life afterward.

Many years later, I’ve simplified my understanding of sanctification to just four short words: “Be more like Jesus.”

How do we do that? Here are a few steps to consider:

Look at Jesus. The Bible tells us that we need to keep our eyes on Jesus while we run the race of life (Hebrews 12:2). If we want to be more like Jesus, we need to look at His character. What qualities does He have? What characteristics should we be emulating to be more like Jesus? One thing that I’ve found helpful is to specifically read Jesus’ words in the Bible and think about what His quotes and actions say about Him and the Person that He is. Then I think about how my words and actions can reflect Him.

Let go. The more that we look at Jesus (Step 1), the more we’ll understand just how terrible sin is—it threatened to separate us forever from our Heavenly Father. Only Christ’s redemptive sacrifice paid our price. Being more like Jesus means letting go of the things (sins) that try to separate us from God. It’s not an easy thing to do. Acknowledge that. Tell Jesus it’s an issue. He is ready to forgive you (1 John 1:9) and help you get back on the right path (Proverbs 3:6).

Don’t be discouraged. We often quote “Consider the lilies” (Matthew 6) when we’re discussing clothing, food and other material goods. But the same God who provides for our material needs has also given us provision for our spiritual needs. I like the way preacher Charles Spurgeon put it: “If He gives you the grace to make you believe, He will give you the grace to live a holy life afterward.”1 If Jesus places that desire in your heart to live more like Him, trust that He’ll be with you throughout the journey.

1. Charles Spurgeon, Sermon, “Justification by Grace.”

Vania Chew is assistant editor for Adventist Media.