My Bible time this morning was in 1 Thess. 4. 1. Thess. 4:3 is one of the greatest verses in the Bible.
Here Paul tell us that the will of God for our lives is our sanctification. Interestingly, the English words "sanctification," "holy," and "saint" all share the same Greek root (hag).
- The verb is hagiazō
- The adjective is hagios.
- And the noun is also hagios.
The basic idea of the root hag is not progress in practical holiness. If that were the case, it would be impossible for God to sanctify himself, for God does not need to make progress in holiness. Yet the Bible says that both the Father and the Son "sanctify" themselves. For example, in John 17:18 Jesus says, "For their salvation I sanctify myself." He means that he had set himself totally and completely apart to the will of God (see also Heb. 10:8). This clearly reveals that the basic idea of "sanctification" is "set apart." We see this also in 1 Cor. 1:2, where Paul writes "to the church of God at Corinth who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints." Note again that in the original text the word "saints" comes from the same Greek root as the word "sanctified." Paul is referring primarily to their position, not their practice. When God looks at us, he sees his child having been set apart unto himself, one who is a saint, beloved of the Father.
Positionally, then, sanctification need never be repeated and can never be repeated. We have been declared righteous by God by his legal act of justification through Christ. This sanctification does not depend on our maturity, our knowledge, or our practice of righteousness. It is the divine work by which God sets us apart to himself.
Please remember that whenever you come to a verse like 1 Thess. 4:3, which refers to the experiential side of sanctification. Here Paul is exhorting the child of God who has already been sanctified to let his experience conform to his position based on the Holy Spirit's empowerment (see v. 8 -- "God who gives us his Holy Spirit"). It's just a matter of allowing him enough elbow room to do the job.