A gracEmail subscriber invites my thoughts concerning the role of the Holy Spirit regarding our sanctification as children of God.
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“Sanctification” is the process of being “sanctified” (from the Latin root word) or being made “holy” (from the Anglo-Saxon word), both of which refer to being set apart exclusively for God. These words have a rich priestly background in the Old Testament where the priests, the tabernacle, the sacrifices and all the furniture and utensils related to those things were dedicated exclusively to God and were considered holy for that reason. In a fundamental sense, we were wholly sanctified (set apart for God and dedicated to him) in union with Jesus Christ our representative when he offered himself spotless and fully obedient to the Father on the cross (Heb. 10:10, 14).
However, God’s intent and purpose in salvation also involves our transformation into Christ’s likeness — our sanctification — in a personal, experiential, applied sense (1 Thes. 4:3; 2 Thes. 2:13-14; Rom. 8:29). This is a necessity for those who dwell with God (Heb. 12:14). This transformation occurs by the power of the Holy Spirit in us, who is none other than the personal, powerful Presence of the Father and of the Risen Christ (1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 8:1-11). In this process, we yield to God who works in (literally “energizes”) us both to desire and to perform what pleases him (Phil. 2:13; Heb. 13:20-21). This is a passive role in that the righteous requirements of God’s law are fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:4) and we manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
Although essentially passive regarding the source of transforming power, our sanctification is an active passivity that calls for our earnest effort and even struggle. For example, we consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God; we stop presenting ourselves as servants to sin and instead present ourselves as servants to God for righteousness (Rom. 6:11-13). We walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). We lay aside the old self, be renewed in the spirit of our mind and put on the new self (Eph. 4:22-24). We set our mind on things above, consider our earthly body members as dead to immorality, put aside old evil ways and put on the new self in Christ (Col. 3:1ff). We deny ungodliness and worldly desires to live sensibly, righteously and godly now (Titus 2:12). This is all with a view on Jesus Christ who gave himself for us to make us his own purified possession and people — the essence of “sanctification” (Titus 2:13-14).