Sanctification Is Not A Process

#023: Sanctification Is Not A Process [Podcast]

I frequently get asked questions about the process of sanctification and how it fits into the Christians’ life in light of the message of the New Covenant.

The truth is it doesn’t.

Sanctification is not a process.

Sanctification fits into our lives… it is in fact a very central part of what Christ has done… but the process is not something that fits into the Christian life. It’s something we get to enjoy the fruits of.

Today we are going to unpack sanctification, what it means and what the Bible has to say about the process.

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I’m just back from Switzerland and Germany and will be back over to England again in July.

If you want to find out more about these trips and other trips I have scheduled for later in the year you head over to my itinerary

If you are in one of the areas I’ll be visiting this year and would like to host a meeting please do send me an email and we can discuss the possibilities of this. I’ve also got a couple spots open towards the end of 2014 for completely separate trips if you would like to host me.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts, insights and any questions you may have about today’s podcast in the comments section below – thanks for sharing!

Intro/Extro Music used with permission from St. Theodore

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  1. Phil,

    I still have a question… If sanctification is not a process then is there a process with The Lord at all? I get that out old nature is dead as made super clear by Romans 6….BUT what about verses like 1 Tim 2:21, 1 Peter 2:5, 1 thess 5:23 that talk about us not yet being at that place? Can you please help me make sense of all of this? Do we still have to present ourselves as these slaves-leading to sancitfication Rom 6:19? I’m just confused Phil.


    • Hi Sanny – really great question.

      We can’t deny that there are certainly great scriptures that seem to suggest the process of becoming Holy. Our job it to read them in context.

      a) the immediate scriptural context – just reading the surrounding verses often helps us interpret the verse in it correct light

      b) the historical context – knowing the audience, the author and the message being communicated can save us from applying truths incorrectly

      c) the overall counsel of scripture – if one verse seems to be contrary to all of scripture then we need to be willing to live in the tension of not ignoring it but at the same time not allowing it to change what the vast majority of scripture points to.

      d) the context of the new covenant – this is especially important when reading the OT. We must read everything through the lens of the NT.

      I would be lying if this “fixed” all problem verses – there are always going to be the occasional scriptures that we don’t understand – this is the beauty of scripture. It’s not a book of answers. It’s a collection of books, testimonies, letters and accounts that serve to get us into discussion with God.

      That said here are a few thoughts on a couple of the passages you mentioned:

      1 Peter 2:5 – The context as we look at surrounding verses seems to suggest that we are not being built into a spiritual house personally. Rather we are the holy stones used as building blocks to build a spiritual house (the Church – the ekklesia) which is for a holy priesthood (us).

      2 Tim 2:21 (you said 1 tim 2:21 but I’ll assume you meant 2) – again the context is VERY important.

      The passage talks about a couple of people who are spreading slander, gossip and heresy (2 Tim 2:16-18) Paul then goes on to say that regardless of what people look like there are some who act as vessels of honour and others as vessels of dishonour. He states… don’t associate with those vessels of dishonour and become like them dishonourable. Instead feel from dishonour and remain as a vessel of honour, set apart (sanctified) for good works.

      I don’t have time to go into all your passages – I’m having to run out the house but I hope that helps. I don’t expect I would have answers for every scriptures out there, but I hope that example has been helpful.

      • Thanks phil! That really helps!

        I have more questions I really hope you have some time to help me-means a lot (I’m a college student trying to understand some of this before I lead a group of believers next year) what do you think about Romans 6:19 and 2 Cor 3:18? I’m having trouble with these two verses about sanctification.

        I’ve read a lot of your stuff. And so I ask- would you say renewing the mind is like a process/sancitfication?

        What do you think about the verse about having the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16)?

        And if there is any process? And I’m not totally sure at the moment- which is why I have many questions (haha!)- what would you say it looks like?

        Sanny G

        • Hi Sanny – great questions.

          I’ll try do a podcast on this topic of process and journey. But here is a very short devotional that might help –

          As for Romans 6:19 – this blog I wrote on Romans 6:19 might help –

          2 Cor 3:18 – that’s easy – The more we gaze upon Jesus the more we see who we really are (it’s as if we are looking in a mirror) and we are transformed into that image.

          Again the transformation and journey and process is all in the mind. Discovering who we really already are.

          We are sanctified, holy, perfect and as Jesus is. But we don’t believe it. As we grow to understand who we are we will experience it… that is the journey of sanctification.

          Hope that helps.

  2. The doctrine of sanctification as a process is backdoor works unto righteousness.

    The old school teaching which kept people coming back over and over was that you had to Obey Attend Give and Serve in order that you may Earn the position of Justification. Well this is a blatantly false teaching and just doesn’t fly.

    So now, since there’s nothing new under the sun, in order to sell us a product that keeps us coming back over and over, in sales it’s called Creating The Need, the old doctrine remains and yet some terms and words have been switched out but it’s still the same concept. While you are saved by grace through faith and all that Jazz, you have to Obey, Attend, Give and Serve in order to be made Clean.

    Obey Pastor. Tantamount to obedience to Christ.

    Attend Church. Missing is forsaking. Leaving is dangerous and reckless and sinful and Lone Ranger Stuff.

    Give Money. The old covenant tithe system with a twist. Giving money instead of food. And it’s for the pastor and denomination instead of you and the people saving up to celebrate God.

    Serve in whatever aspect you are commanded. If you don’t serve in a way that they can see it, it doesn’t count unto your sanctification.

    If you don’t do these things then your salvation is in question.

    The only process involving sanctification is the revelation of just how much Christ has done for you to come unto Him like a child.

    We need to heed the instruction of leaders. But only as they point us to the authority of Christ.

    We need to gather and encourage one another frequently. Not as a law but as a joy and freedom.

    We need to Serve because we do what the Father is doing. We care for one another. We bear up burdens.

    We give as the spirit leads. As we overflow. Not of our lack so that we would be emptied, but of our abundance so all would be balanced.

    Gotta go to work. Peace.

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