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It’s a Process (Es Un Proceso) – Or is it?

February 23, 2011

Our first year on the mission field was spent in the classroom learning Spanish. Sometimes our brains would hit a wall and we’d get so frustrated. How could we reach a nation if we couldn’t even speak the language.

Our Spanish professor would consistently remind us, “Es un proceso” (“It’s a process”).

Many believe the doctrine of sanctification is like that…a process in which we become more holy as we grow in our Christian experience. And while that’s partially true, that’s not all there is to biblical sanctification.

The word sanctify or sanctification means to be set apart or dedicated to God. In fact, the words sanctify, saint and holy all carry the same basic root and definition. They all mean to be set apart or dedicated unto God.

If we’ve been born again, we’ve been set apart unto Him – sanctified – we’re saints – and He sees us as holy.

There are three aspects to sanctification. They are Positional Sanctification, Progressive (or Experiential) Sanctification and Ultimate Sanctification.

Positional Sancatification – Being set apart by God and for God whereby He sees us as holy and wholly His regardless of our conduct. Positional Sanctification takes place when we trust Christ as our Savior and Lord, accepting what He did on the cross in payment for our sin.

“And in accordance with this will [of God], we have been made holy (consecrated and sanctified) through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ (the Anointed One).” Hebrews 10:10 Amplified

Notice the tense of the verb used in Hebrews 10:10: have been made holy – it’s used in the perfect tense meaning it’s a completed work that happened in time past and cannot be changed.

From God’s perspective, we have been set apart, we have been made holy, we have been sanctified. It was a once and for all event that altered our eternal destiny.

How humbling and reassuring to know that we’ve been sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ…once for all. Our position doesn’t depend upon our works, our faithfulness, our godliness or our own strength. It’s a divine work in which God sets us apart for Himself – once and for all.

Progressive (or Experiential) Sanctification The continual growing process in the life of a Christian whereby we set ourselves apart for God and allow Him to have His way in our hearts and lives. It is a constant yielding of ourselves unto God and to His will. This is what we normally think of when we think of Sanctification…it’s a process (es un proceso).

The Old Testament sacrificial system mirrors the concept of Progressive Sanctification. God’s people would ‘set apart’ their offering and present it unto the Lord. That ‘sanctification’ is echoed in Romans 12:1,2 and Romans 6:13 with the phrases, “yield yourselves’ and ‘present yourselves’.

We set ourselves apart by an act of our will so that we can be led by the Holy Spirit and be changed from one degree of glory to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Positional Sanctification never changes. Progressive Sanctification never stops changing as long as we’re alive.

Ultimate SanctificationWhen we die we will see Jesus as He is and we’ll be like Him. Sinless – deathless and brought to full spiritual maturity.

1  John 3:2 says, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

And in Jude, we’re told that one day He will present us faultless before the presence of His glory. That’s Ultimate Sanctification.

Yes, sanctification is a process, but it’s oh-so-much more!

How does understanding the Positional, Progressive and Ultimate Sanctification help you in your Christian walk?

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2011 8:28 am

    Great job Stephanie! I thank God I’m not who I was, but at the same time, I’m not who I want to be. So I continue be sanctified, looking forward to the day in heaven when the process is complete.

    • stephanieshott permalink
      February 23, 2011 10:44 am

      Sandra ~ I completely agree with you! We’re getting there, but in the process of it all, God sees us like we already are! Amazing!

      • February 23, 2011 4:25 pm

        Love that Stephanie, “in the process of it all, God sees us like we already are”. What a perfect discription of sanctification. I really enjoyed this post.

        Justification, Sanctification and Glorification have always been difficult for me to explain. You ladies are doing such a great job!

        ~Blessings~
        Marita

      • stephanieshott permalink
        February 23, 2011 5:44 pm

        Marita ~ I’m so glad you’re digging with us! The different doctrines are sometimes difficult to explain. Sometimes they seem to run together – but I can’t help but wonder if it’s supposed to be that way anyway. It always brings us back to what Jesus did through His virgin birth, His sinless life, His death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. Truly – it’s all about Jesus! 🙂

  2. Julie Sanders permalink
    February 23, 2011 8:57 am

    I love knowing that God has a plan for my life change, and He has already set it into motion. I hear threads of His grace throughout your great explanation. The more I understand about God and His plan for me, the more I’m motivated to give Him the worship He is due!

    • stephanieshott permalink
      February 23, 2011 10:47 am

      Julie ~ I love how you said, “threads of His grace”! What a beautiful way to explain the way He has weaved our lives together to make us a sanctified tapestry for His glory!

  3. February 23, 2011 10:19 am

    Knowing that my position is secure in Christ (Justification) is all I need most days to get out of bed and face the world. Knowing that He is still working on me (Sanctification) motivates me to dig into the Word and apply its truths. Knowing that I will one day reach maturity in Christ (glorification) gives me hope and something to look forward to!

    • stephanieshott permalink
      February 23, 2011 10:49 am

      Ashley ~ What a glorious God we serve! Only He can do such a work in our lives! Amen & Amen!

  4. February 23, 2011 12:11 pm

    Nice Reminder. I was thinking this morning how the NT standard is so high (Love as I have love the church, for example) that it is meant to push us to greater dependence on Christ. Thus, our sanctification. Depend. Trust.

  5. stephanieshott permalink
    February 23, 2011 12:35 pm

    Susan ~ I love that you reminded us that we can never attain a standard so high. Yet, it’s amazing that God sees us as if we already has! Positionally Sanctified! Working on it – Progressively Sanctified! One day completely perfect – Ultimately Sanctified!
    Depend & Trust! Awesome!

  6. March 1, 2011 5:16 pm

    I always love thinking about sanctification or being holy as being “set apart” by God. How amazing and special that God would create us in the first place, and then set us apart for His good purposes.

    Thank you for the distinctions you clarified here. How awesome to see that, in different ways, we are already set apart, yet we are constantly being set apart and will one day finally be completely set apart.

    (Sorry for the late comment. I having to play blog catch-up this week!)

  7. stephanieshott permalink
    March 1, 2011 8:03 pm

    Hi Caroline ~ I so agree with you! It’s definitely amazing…beyond my comprehension…that God would create us knowing we would sin against Him and He would have to send His Son in order to redeem us…and then set us apart for His good purposes! AMAZING!

    And, I did miss you! I even thought to myself, “I wonder if Caroline is doing okay?” I love how you add to the conversation! 🙂

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