“May the God of peace make you holy in every way” ~1 Thess. 5:23
“Are you sanctified?” bellowed the animated preacher, pointing and sweeping his hand in a grand gesture to the church. “Are you sure? Are you holy? If you have any doubts you better come down to the altar and pray your way through! God is not happy with any fence sitters tonight. He means business and you better mean business too. You got to be sanctified to make God happy and get a golden key to your heavenly mansion,” said the sweat-drenched pastor as he walked to and fro among them, satisfied with the response to his fear-packed message.
Terrified and confused people flocked to the altar, crying and begging God for the elusive sanctification, fearing they might miss the golden key awaiting those who have achieved sanctification [holiness].
Contrary to his threats and confusing statements, God was not happy with him or his misguided sermon. Believers do not receive sanctification as a result of fear or condemnation. To be accurate, this very emotional and dramatic pastor should have proclaimed, “Your faith has made you whole and you are all sanctified (made holy) by the Holy Spirit!” Let’s see what God’s Word has to say about our sanctification/holiness.
Romans 6:19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
1 Cor. I:30-31 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.
1 Cor. 1:2 To you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Cor. 6:11 You were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Thess. 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
John 17:17-19 (Christ’s prayer to God) Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
2 Thess. 2:13 As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.
Hebrews 10:10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
Romans 15:16 I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.
Sanctification/holiness is not something we can beg God for at a church altar. Sanctification is a gift from God as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ. Although a gift, God requires our involvement to make choices for purity and holiness. But fear not, it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to follow through on our Christ-like decisions.