In June 28, 1703 a theologian by the name of John Wesley was born. John Wesley was a Church of England cleric. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield. In contrast to George Whitefield’s Calvinism, Wesley embraced the Arminian doctrines that were dominant in the 18th-century Church of England.

Wesley’s teachings, known as Wesleyanism, provided the seeds for both the modern Methodist movement, the Holiness movement, Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement, and Neo-charismatic churches, which encompass numerous denominations across the world.

Now the influence of the Holiness movement is great and some evangelical denominations hold to it. Holiness movement redefined the biblical doctrine of sanctification. In order to define the doctrine of sanctification accurately we need to look into the Scripture carefully.

The Greek word for the word “sanctification” is (hagiasmos) the basic meaning of the noun is to set apart, consecrate, make holy. To sanctify, then, means “to make holy.” In one sense only God is holy (Isaiah 6:3). God is separate, distinct, other. No human being or thing shares the holiness of God’s essential nature. There is one God. Yet Scripture speaks about holy things. Moreover, God calls human beings to be holy–as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44; Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:15-16). Another word for a holy person is “saint” (hagios), meaning a sanctified one.

In the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 in chapter 13 which speaks about Sanctification reads,

They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are also a farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, b by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; c the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, d and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and e strengthened in all saving graces, to the f practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. (a Act 20:32; Rom 6:5-6; b Joh 17:17; Eph 3:16-19; 1Th 5:21-23; c Rom 6:14; dGal 5:24; e Col 1:11; f 2Co 7:1; Heb 12:14)

This sanctification is g throughout the whole man, yet imperfect h in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a i continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. ( g 1Th 5:23; h Rom 7:18,23; i Gal 5:17; 1Pe 2:11)

3 In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much kprevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, thel regenerate part doth overcome; and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,m pressing after an heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word hath prescribed them. (k om 7:23; l Rom 6:14; m Eph 4:15-16; 2Co 3:18, 7:1)

This chapter of the confession demonstrate to us the biblical definition of Sanctification. There are several observations from the Bible that may help us understand the biblical definition of Sanctification. These observations are:

1). Sanctification is a process throughout the life of the Christian (Philippians 2:12).

2). God is the one working in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

3). Every Christian ought to be actively participating in the sanctification process (2 Corinthians 7:1; Phillipians 2:12).

4). Every true Christian has been freed from the power of sin (Romans 6:12-14).

5). Every true Christian is enabled to live in newness of life under the reign of grace (Romans 6:12-14).

6). Every true Christian is unified with Christ in His resurrection (Romans 6:1-11).

7). Every true Christian is made new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17).

8). Every true Christian is by virture of the new nature (new birth) is by God’s grace able to increase in holiness and hate sin more and more (1 John 3:4-10).

So as Anthony Hoekema defines sanctification is helpful: it is

“that gracious operation of the Holy Spirit, involving our responsible participation, by which He delievers us as justified sinners from the pollution of sin, renews our entire nature according to the image of God, and enables us to live lives that are pleasing to Him.”

Generally speaking this definition is the reformed definition of the biblical doctrine of sanctification. As we will continue our posts, we will discuss the different views in the evangelical world concerning this doctrine.

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