Sanctification the Process of Sanctification Can Also Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :


The process of sanctification can also be termed loosely of becoming like God, as we were all created to be like him and in sanctification we are restored to the full human potential designed by god. This has three parts or levels and includes the work done by the Holy Spirit, done by ourselves and through society. All three are required to achieve sanctification and that is the full development of the god-designed human being. The Holy Spirit makes the believer holy and sanctification is a part of it. The change does not take place immediately, and the process takes three stages. The names given to these three stages are positional sanctification, progressive sanctification and perfect or complete sanctification. (Sanctification- First Baptist Church) As we run the race to the end of our lives, Sanctification is an incessant procedure of growth. In the life of a Christian, the work of sanctification is not at all finished. By getting rid of bad habits, sanctification makes the sinner more and more like Jesus Christ. In the soul and the spirit of man, sanctification occurs. (Roman Catholic Church- Religion vs. Relationship)


Historically sanctification was unfolded in stages as a doctrine and the Church was concerned only with the three problems of the relation of grace of God regarding sanctification and faith, the relative positions of sanctification and justification and the extent of sanctification in the worldly life. The Church fathers in the beginning had written very little regarding this doctrine. There was a strain of morals and that was seen in the fact that men were taught to depend on salvation and faith with good work. The sins that humans committed before baptism were felt to be washed away through baptism, but sins after baptism had to be compensated through penance and good deeds. He was told to lead a life of virtue so that he could get merits in the eyes of the Lord. The greatest importance was attached to ascetic living. There was also a tendency to club together justification and sanctification. (Sanctification: A Reformed Theology Resource)

The first person to develop definite ideas about sanctification was Augustine, and his views were a great influence in the Church of the middle Ages. He also did not separate justification and sanctification but felt the latter to be a part of the former. He believed that total human nature had been corrupted by the fall and thought of sanctification as a new supernatural impartation of divine life. This was to give a new energy and operate exclusively within the confines of the Church and through the Church procedures. The theories given by the teachings of Augustine were developed further in the theology of the middle Ages, and were expressed in the writings of Thomas Aquinas. There is no clear distinction between justification and sanctification. Justification is however felt to include an infusion of divine grace, and thus substantial into the human soul. (Sanctification: A Reformed Theology Resource)

The grace was viewed as a type of donum superadditum used to lift the soul to a higher level, and the person to a higher level of being and through this being able to achieve the heavenly destiny of knowing, possessing and enjoying God. The grace was supposed to come from the inexhaustible merits of Christ and was to be transferred to believers through the sacraments. This was supposed to be the source of new life with all the virtues. The good work could be neutralized or destroyed through the commitment of mortal sins. The guilt committed after baptism was thought to be removed through the Eucharist for the venial sins and through the sacrament of penance for mortal sins. When one sees this from a human view point, the supernatural power of faith working through love have merit in the eyes of God and these secure extra grace. This sort of works is not possible unless there is a continuous operation of the grace of God. The total process was viewed as justification rather than sanctification, as this was used for making man just in front of God. (Sanctification: A Reformed Theology Resource)

Then the reformation occurred and the Reformers talked of sanctification through emphasis on the antithesis of sin and redemption rather than as a process of nature and super-nature. There was also a
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clear difference made between justification and sanctification, with the first being treated as an act of divine grace which affected the judicial status of the man. The second was treated as a moral or creative job and ended up changing the nature of man. Though there was a careful distinction made between the two, there was also a total stress on their inherent connection. They were convinced that man was justified by faith alone; it was felt that faith which justifies is not alone. Sanctification immediately follows justification as God sends out the Spirits of His Son into the heart of His own people after they go through justification. There was no recognition of a grace of sanctification as the supernatural essence was being infused in men through the sacraments. (Sanctification: A Reformed Theology Resource)

Sanctification was viewed as a supernatural and gracious work done by the Holy Spirit done mainly through the Word and also through the sacraments. These were to deliver the believers to even larger extents from the power of sin and enabled them to do good work. This did not mix up justification and sanctification, but they wanted to keep a close connection between the two, as the first emphasizes the free and forgiving grace of God. The second calls for the cooperation from the man so that the danger of work-righteousness could be avoided. In Pietism and Methodism there was more emphasis on the constant relationship with Christ as this was the method of getting sanctification. This placed a greater emphasis on sanctification and lowered justification and this also gave rise to a danger of self-righteousness. In the present day, there is more emphasis on redemption by character and today, "sanctification" stands for moral improvement. (Sanctification: A Reformed Theology Resource)

There are two aspects of sanctification that are addressed by theologians. The first and most important among them is that it is set aside as holy unto god, or consecration. This takes place only once in the life of a person when he or she is included in the covenant community and he or she is placed in covenant with God. (cf.1 Cor.7:14). In the Old Testament this used to happen at birth and through circumcision. In the period after Christ, this takes place through birth or conversion and then baptism. The other aspect of sanctification is what the theologians call purification. This continues happening throughout the life of believers and this makes the believer more like Christ. According to Reformed tradition, sanctification is called to be progressive and that means that in general, the believer becomes more righteous and less sinful as he progresses in life. (The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments)

Views on Sanctification:

Sanctification is explained by Grudem as a development work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our real lives. The work of sanctification does have a specific commencement even though it is developmental and incessant in nature. Paul, in his initial letter to the Corinthians, talks as "To the Church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy" (1 Corinthians 1:2). Their sanctification by God in the unique earlier period is acknowledged by him. By calling them holy in their contemporary survival, he also acknowledges a progressive or incessant nature to sanctification. (Sanctification- First Baptist Church)

The definition of sanctification has been given by Hoekema as an act of the Holy Spirit. For this to happen, it requires our own personal participation, as through this people who are already viewed as sinners will be redeemed of their sin and the nature of these individuals will become like the image of God. This is required for us to be able to live our lives in a manner that will be liked by God. (Reformed Sanctification) The person to undergo active participation in the sanctification is to be done by God. The level of active participation in the process of sanctification will ensure that the required energy will be given by God. (Dieter; Hoekema; Horton; McQuilkin & Walvoord, 1987) Hoekema has said that the process of sanctification has three compulsory requirements. The first of these requirements is that sanctification can occur only when the person is more united with God. The individual cannot grow unless the union takes place. The second source of sanctification is through truth, and this is assisted by the Bible which is required for sanctification. The third and final requirement is faith, and sanctification comes through faith. Faith is essential for any person to live united with Christ and accept that he is no longer under…

Sources Used in Documents:


Agent of Sanctification" Retrieved at Accessed on 02/27/2004

Aoto, Stacey; Bellefeuille, Sheri; Gattis, Jay and Sullivan, Paul. "The Doctrine of Santification." Retrieved at Accessed on 02/27/2004

Berkhof, L. "Sanctification." A Reformed Theology Resource.

Retrieved at Accessed on 02/27/2004

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