The Spiritual Development of Sanctification

The concept of sanctification refers to the profound process of being set apart and made holy for God’s purposes. As we grow in faith, sanctification transforms us to become more like Christ through the renewing work of the Holy Spirit. This journey cultivates spiritual maturity rooted in biblical truth and the fruit of the Spirit. When we yield ourselves fully to the sanctifying power of Christ, extraordinary growth blossoms within our souls.

Sanctification is no mere religious notion – it is the Spirit-empowered progression of our inner lives toward wholeness. Through sanctification, the love and light of Jesus radiate outward through our transformed perspectives and Christlike character. As we explore the biblical foundations and godly goals of this purification process, we uncover the remarkable methods God uses to conform us to His image and mature us spiritually step-by-step.

Understanding the Biblical Basis for Sanctification

In Scripture, the concept of sanctification is conveyed using original Hebrew and Greek terms meaning “set apart and made holy for God’s purposes.” We gain insight into both positional sanctification at conversion and progressive sanctification from key passages:

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 instructs believers to abstain from sexual immorality and impurity, controlling their own bodies in holiness and honor. This demonstrates that sanctification affects all areas of life.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 shows that sanctification is an act of God making us holy, extending to our whole being – spirit, soul and body – which He preserves blameless.

John 17:17-19 reveals that sanctification comes through God’s truth as Jesus set Himself apart to make the disciples holy through His sacrificial death on their behalf. They were cleansed, set apart and sent out just as Jesus was consecrated and commissioned by the Father.

Clarifying Aspects of Sanctification

Sanctification includes several key aspects:

  • Positional – Our status in Christ as saints positionally set apart for God and declared righteous through faith.
  • Personal – The continual process of purification and renewal in our character/conduct.
  • Progressive – Our spiritual maturation over the course of our lives as disciples.
  • Ultimate – The final glorification of our whole being in eternal union with Christ.

The Means of Sanctification: Cooperating with Divine Grace

How does this sanctifying process unfold practically in our daily walk? According to Scripture, we partner with divine grace in pursuing increasing holiness through spiritual disciplines and obedience:

Philippians 2:12-13 exhorts: “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

1 Peter 1:13-16 commands us to set our hope fully on the grace given when Jesus returns, being holy in all we do: “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” This demonstrates sanctification requires continually yielding every area of life to the Lordship of Christ in response to unmerited salvation.

The Means of Sanctifying Grace

Certain biblically-based disciplines position us to receive and walk in transformative grace:

  • Immersing ourselves in Scripture – Allowing God’s word to renew our thinking and shape our conduct as devoted disciples.
  • Prayer – Communing intimately with Jesus Christ and interceding for God’s will.
  • Corporate Worship – Joining together as the body of Christ to glorify God and spur each other toward righteousness through the teaching of Scripture, prayer, confession, celebration of the sacraments and Holy Spirit-led conviction, encouragement and unity.
  • Serving Others – Pouring our lives out through Spirit-empowered good deeds that meet pressing needs.
  • Sharing Our Faith – Proclaiming the gospel in word and action through the power of the Holy Spirit working through us.

As we engage these means of grace, we create space for the Spirit’s activity in transforming us fully into Christlike maturity.

The Sanctification Sequence: Spiritual Growth into Godly Maturity

Each step along the biblical path of sanctification builds upon the last, leading progressively toward maturity in Christ:

  1. Regeneration – God imparts new life in Christ by the Holy Spirit, enabling us to repent and place faith in Jesus.
  2. Conversion – We exercise repentance and faith to receive salvation, die to self and align with Christ.
  3. Justification – God declares us righteous based on the imputed righteousness of Jesus instead of our own merit.
  4. Reconciliation – Enmity between God and us is removed; we become adopted children of God.
  5. Positional Sanctification – God sets us apart in status as saints blameless in Christ.
  6. Progressive Sanctification – Through the Spirit, we are increasingly conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ in character and conduct.
  7. Glorification – At Christ’s return, we receive resurrection bodies and dwell in God’s immediate presence for eternity.

This sequence demonstrates how our justification and reconciliation with God form the basis for the Spirit’s deeper sanctifying work transforming us into whole and mature reflections of Christlike godliness.

While Scripture contains incredible promises about the sanctifying work of God making us holy as He is holy, this lifelong process involves persevering through difficult trials that test our faith and expose areas needing refinement into Christ’s image. We must yield humbly to the Lord’s loving discipline, receive His searching correction, and choose daily to cling to Him instead of our old nature.

As we walk closely with Jesus through both blessings and hardships, the Spirit forms His patient love, joy and goodness within us. Our transformation then impacts others, as we disciple them also to embrace this life-giving sanctification leading to wholeness in Christ.