The Nature of Sanctification
What does "sanctify" mean? Is there any better way of ascertaining than tracing its scriptural usage? We find it employed in three distinct and most impressive scenes in the Old Testament.
Sanctify means to separate. This idea can be traced all through its use in connection with the ceremonial ordinances. The idea of separation is first suggested in the account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis, and there, probably, we see the essential figure of sanctification. God's first work in bringing order, law and light out of chaos was to separate, to put an expanse or gulf between the two worlds of darkness and light, of earth and heaven. He did not annihilate the darkness, but He separated it from the light, He separated the land from the water, He separated the waters of the sea from the vapors of the sky.
We see Him in the spiritual realm, immediately afterwards, separating His people. He separated the family of Seth from the worldly race of Cain. He separated Noah and his family from the ungodly world. He separated Abraham and his seed from an idolatrous family. He separated Israel from Egypt and the surrounding nations. The very meaning of the word church is called out or separated. To each individual the same call comes still, "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty". Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God (2 Corinthians 6:17; 7:1).
Sanctification then means our voluntary separation from evil. It is not the extinction of evil. It is the putting off, the laying aside of evil by the detaching of ourselves from it and placing an impassable gulf between us and it. We are to separate ourselves not only from our past sins but from sin as a principle of life. We are not to try to improve and gradually ameliorate our unholy condition. We are to put off the old life, acting as if it was no longer our self, and separating it from our sinful self as the soul is separated from the body by death. We are to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin just as much as though we were no longer the same person, and the old heart was no longer that true self (Romans 6:11).
We are to refuse every manifestation of evil, whether from within or from without; every suggestion and temptation; every impulse that is not of God. We are to be in the attitude of negation and resistance with our whole being saying no! We need not annihilate the evil or resist it in our own strength but simply, by a definite act of will, separate ourselves from it, hand it over to God and renounce it utterly. Give Him the absolute right to deal with it and destroy it. When we do so, God always follows our committal with His almighty power and puts a gulf as deep as the grave of Christ and a wall as high as the foundation of the New Jerusalem between us and the evil we renounce.
We separate ourselves; God makes the separation good. The first decisive step in sanctification is an act of will by which we renounce evil in every form in which it is made manifest to our consciences and brought into the light. We deny further not only evil in its manifestations but also the whole evil self and sinful nature from which each separate act has sprung.
We also separate ourselves from the world and its embodiment of the old natural condition of things and the kingdom of the prince of evil. We recognize ourselves as not of the world even as He was not of the world. We put off, not merely that which is sinful, but that which is natural and human that it may die on the Cross of Jesus and rise into a supernatural and divine life. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The Holy Spirit leads us to a deeper separation, not only from evil but also from the earthly. He lifts us into a supernatural life in all respects, and prepares us, even here, for that great transformation in which "the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:54). For as the first man was of the earth, earthy, even before he fell, so will he give place to the second man who was made a living spirit and who has lifted us up into His own likeness.
~A. B. Simpson~
(continued with # 4 - "The Practical Force")