This is the 10th in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.
Sanctification is the work of God making Christians more like Jesus.
As Millard Erickson puts it, “Sanctification is a process by which one’s moral condition is brought into conformity with one’s legal status before God. It is a continuation of what was begun in regeneration, when a newness of life was conferred upon and instilled within the believer. In particular, sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s applying to the life of the believer the work done by Jesus Christ.”
Sanctification may be understood in two ways. First, there is positional sanctification, the state of being separate, set apart from the common, and dedicated to a higher purpose.
The Hebrew word qados literally means “separate” and is used to designate particular places (like the Holy of Holies), objects (such as Aaron’s garments and the Sabbath Day), and persons (especially priests and Levites).
Positional sanctification finds its place in the New Testament as a work of God occurring at the beginning of conversion. John Frame, who prefers the term definitive sanctification, calls this “a once-for-all event … that transfers us from the sphere of sin to the sphere of God’s holiness, from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God. It is at this point that each of us joins the people of God.”