Author: Ron Graham

Wonderful Words


Synonyms: Holiness, dedication, being set apart for God’s special use

In the time of Moses, the tabernacle, or tent of worship, had rooms called the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 9:1-3). These rooms were hallowed, sacred, dedicated, set apart for God and devoted to his use. That is what it means to be "holy".

Holy, sanctified...

The words "holy" and "sanctified" mean the same thing. Translators use these words interchangeably to render the same Greek word. Thus, where one version has "sanctified" another might have "holy".


The word "saint" is closely associated with the word "sanctified". When the scriptures speak of "saints", we should take that to mean "those who are sanctified", or "those who have been made holy".

The term "saint" is one of several that denote Christians. For example, in Acts 9:36-42, the Christians in Joppa are called "disciples" in verse 38, and "saints" in verse 41. "Those who have been sanctified, saints by calling," was a description of the entire church of God in Corinth (1Corinthians 1:2).

Greek References: hagiasmos 38 (Strong) cf 37-42

Scripture: Romans 12:1, 1Corinthians 1:30, 1Corinthians 6:11, Ephesians 5:26, 2Thessalonians 2:13, Hebrews 2:11, 1Peter 1:2

Related ideas: fellowship, purification, blood, priesthood, Holy Spirit

Synopsis: Sanctification or holiness is what makes people saints —a Bible term for Christians, God’s holy or sanctified people. Saints enjoy purification from evil, separateness (but not isolation) from the world, fellowship with all other saints, and enlightenment from God. What's more, they enjoy this sanctification from the moment they become Christians. It's not a "second blessing" for which they must wait.

This lesson is about the word "sanctification". We are going to look at five characteristics of saints and of their sanctification.

1 Purification From Evil

First we look at three important verses which associate sanctification with purification.

Hebrews 9:13-14 This compares animal sacrifices with the sacrifice of Christ's own body and blood. Notice in these verses how the word "sanctifies" is used in connection with the words "purifying" and "purge".

1Corinthians 6:11 Note how "washed" and "sanctified" are associated here. "You were washed... sanctified... justified..."

Ephesians 5:25-27 Notice the terms, "sanctify, cleanse, washing, holy, without blemish," all linked together.

In God’s law there are three things essential to purification and therefore to sanctification:

note Jesus made our sanctification possible by offering his own blood as our High Priest who mediated the new covenant (1Peter 1:2, Hebrews 9:14-15, Hebrews 10:10-12). There is one salient and simple fact you can believe and understand regarding what it means to be sanctified: "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1Jn 1:9). In verse 7, John has earlier stated that the blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanses us from all sin. Our blessing of sanctification is immediate, full, and ever present.

2 Separateness From The World

Spiritual duty

The saint (sanctified person) has a "spiritual duty of worship" to present his or her body as "a living and holy sacrifice, well-pleasing to God... not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing..." (Romans 12:1-2)

Spiritual world view

Because "the earth and its works will be burned up" the saint lives in "holy conduct" as if already living in the new world where righteousness dwells (2Peter 3:10-14). Sanctified people live in the world, but are not of the world, thus they conform to Christ's prayer for their sanctification (Jhn 17:14-20). In short, if a person's life and ways are not markedly different from the worldly people among whom that person lives, then that person is not one of God’s saints.

Spiritual investment

The saint has an inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14,18). An inheritance has much in common with an investment, but in some cases an inheritance is a gift toward which the beneficiary contributes nothing. Certainly our inheritance is a gift from God, but we are required to invest our whole selves in God’s kingdom. We read before that we must render our bodies "a living and holy sacrifice" (Romans 12:1).

3 Fellowship With The Saints

There is a "manner worthy of the saints" in which they are to receive one another, and recognise one another's ministry (Romans 16:1-2). Christ's prayer, mentioned above, goes on to plead "that they all may be one" (John 17:20-21).

The saints are called "fellow citizens". They are "stones fitted together" in God’s temple. "A heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another" characterises those who are sanctified. They "put on love, the perfect bond" of unity (Ephesians 2:19-22 Col3:12-15). People who fight, hinder, slander, avoid and abandon each other are not saints.

4 Enlightenment From God

The "mystery which has been hidden from past generations and ages, has now been manifested to his saints, to whom God willed to make known" his revelation. So the saints are not ignorant of eternal truth, but have "the eyes of their understanding enlightened" (Colossians 1:26-28, Ephesians 1:1,17-18).

5 Dedication and Loyalty To Jesus

Saints are "faithful in Christ Jesus" (Eph 1:1). To be sanctified means to be dedicated. You will recall that Solomon "did not follow the Lord fully" (1Kg 11:4-6). There are people, like that, who partly follow Christ, but also follow their own ways. Sanctified people, however, are characterised by total dedication and loyalty to the Lord. (Note Luke 11:23).