1 Thessalonians 4:3
For it is God's will that you should be holy: You must abstain from sexual immorality;
Sanctification a Divine ArrangementT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 4:3
Warning Against Sins of ImpurityT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 4:3
SanctificationR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5
A Deepening ConsecrationS. B. Bossiter.1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
A Fuller ConsecrationC. Simeon, M. A.1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Abounding More and MoreH. K. Burton.1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Earnest Exhortations to a High SanctityG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
How to Walk So as to Please GodG. Burder.1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Of Abounding More and MorePlain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times."1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Pleasing GodB. Pugh.1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Pleasing God IsD. Thomas, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
So Ye Would Abound More and More1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
The Christian's Walk and its ObjectW. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
The Necessity of ProgressBp. Westcott.1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Walking So as to Please God1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Distinctive Features of a True SanctificationG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Holinessor. M. Ashley, M. A.1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Human Holiness the Great Object of the Divine WillD. Thomas, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Of Sanctification1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Our Consecration the Will of GodDean Vaughan.1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Our SanctificationE. N. Kirk, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
SanctificationJ. Davies.1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Sanctification1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Sanctification of the SpiritA. W. Hare, A. M.1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Sanctification the Will of GodJ. F. Denham.1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Sanctification the Will of GodFamily Churchman1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
The Law of PurityB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
For this is God's will, your sanctification. The first duty expressed is personal holiness.


1. It implies the consecration of all our faculties and powers, both of body and mind, to God's service.

2. It implies personal purity in heart and life. We are to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1).


1. It is God's will. That ought to stimulate to exertion and encourage to prayer. "Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God."

2. It was the design of Christ's death; for he "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14).


1. It is by the truth. "Sanctify them by thy truth: thy Word is truth."

2. It is by his ordinances.

3. It is by his providences. (Psalm 119:71; Hebrews 12:10; Romans 2:4.)

4. It is, above all, by the Spirit of holiness, as its sole Author. - T.C.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification
Holiness, like sin, is many-sided, and each separate side presents us with a different view of its requirements and perfections. In this chapter holiness stands for purity and chastity, and also for liberality in our dealings one with another. A man may be both pure and liberal, and yet, as being proud, wilful, and revengeful, may be very far from being holy. Purity and liberality, or just dealing, are two conditions of holiness — are essential to its presence — yet they by no means exhaust its qualifications. The highest form of holiness is love, a love which at once purifies the affections, exalts the heart, and conforms us to the likeness of Him in whom all holiness finds its example and perfection.


II. THE SANCTIFIED IS ALSO THE WISHED-FOR ONE. "This is the wishing of God," etc. The creation by God implied a dedication to God (Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:16). The wishing of God was made null and void by the fall; yet in His infinite love for man He went on wishing for man still. The purpose of the Incarnation was to reconsecrate lost and fallen man.

III. THE SANCTIFIED IS ALSO THE DEAR AND HONOURED ONE; he is precious in the sight of the Lord (Psalm 91:15; John 12:26).

IV. HE WHO IS SANCTIFIED IS ALSO DUTIFUL AND REVEREND TOWARDS GOD; not as being moved by threatenings or encouraged by promises, but as being brought within the sphere of the operations of God the Holy Ghost. I cannot be holy unless my holiness produce some kind of fruit and leads to some practical result.

V. THE SANCTIFIED ONE IS ALSO ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN THE FAITH, since holiness is gained by faith passing into action. Every successive conquest over sin deepens his spiritual life, and becomes part of such office by which the soul is consecrated to God.

VI. THE SANCTIFIED OR CONSECRATED ONE IS ALSO PURE. Sanctification involves regeneration, or a new birth.

(or. M. Ashley, M. A.)

The notion of the word sanctification signifies to consecrate and set apart to an holy use. Sanctification hath a privative and a positive part.

1. A privative part, mortification, which lies in the purging out of sin. Though it takes not away the life, yet it takes away the love of sin.

2. A positive part, vivification, which is the spiritual refining of the soul, which in Scripture is called a "renewing of your mind" and a "partaking of the Divine nature." The priests in the law not only were washed in the great laver, but adorned with glorious apparel; so sanctification not only washes from sin, but adorns with purity.


1. Sanctification is a supernatural thing: it is Divinely infused. Weeds grow of themselves. Flowers are planted. Sanctification is a flower of the Spirit's planting; therefore it is called "the sanctification of the Spirit."

2. Sanctification is an intrinsical thing: "it lies chiefly in the heart." It is called the adorning "the hidden man of the heart." The dew wets the leaf, the sap is hid in the root.

3. Sanctification is an extensive thing: it spreads into the whole man. "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly." He is not a sanctified person who is good only in some part, but who is all over sanctified; therefore in Scripture grace is called a "new man"; not a new eye or a new tongue, but a "new man." A good Christian, though he be sanctified but in part, yet in every part.

4. Sanctification is an intense ardent thing: "fervent in spirit." Sanctification is not a dead form, but it is inflamed into zeal.

5. Sanctification is a beautiful thing; it makes God and angels fall in love with us, "the beauties of holiness."

6. Sanctification is an abiding thing: "His seed remaineth in him."

7. Sanctification is a progressive thing.

II. WHAT ARE THE COUNTERFEITS OF SANCTIFICATION? There is something looks like sanctification which is not.

1. The first counterfeit of sanctification is moral virtue.

2. The second counterfeit of sanctification is superstitious devotion.

3. The third counterfeit of sanctification is hypocrisy; when men make a pretence of that holiness which they have not. A pretence of sanctification is not to be rested in. Many ships that have had the name of the Hope, the Safeguard, the Triumph, yet have been cast away upon the rocks; so many who have had the name of saintship have been cast into hell.

4. The fourth counterfeit of sanctification is restraining grace. When men forbear vice, though they do not hate it, this may be the sinner's motto, "Fain I would, but I dare not." Here is no change of heart. Sin is curbed, but not cured; a lion may be in chains, but is a lion still.

5. The fifth counterfeit of sanctification is common grace, which is a slight, transient work of the Spirit, but doth not amount to conversion.


1. God hath called us to it: "God hath not called us to uncleanness, but unto holiness."

2. The necessity appears in this: without sanctification there is no evidencing our justification; justification and sanctification go together: "but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified."

3. Without sanctification we have no title to the new covenant. If a man make a wilt, and settle his estate upon such persons as he names in the will, none else but they can lay claim to the will; so God makes a will and testament, but it is restrained and limited to such as are sanctified; and it is high presumption for any else to lay claim to the will.

4. There is no going to heaven without sanctification: "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

5. Without sanctification all our holy things are defiled: "Unto them that are defiled is nothing pure."


1. Such as are sanctified can remember a time when they were unsanctified.

2. The second sign of sanctification is the indwelling of the Spirit: "The Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us."

3. The third sign of sanctification is an antipathy against sin.

4. The fourth sign of sanctification is the spiritual performance of duties, viz., with the heart, and from a principle of love. The sanctified soul prays out of a love to prayer; he "calls the Sabbath a delight."

5. The fifth sign, a well-ordered life. "Be ye holy in all manner of conversation." Where the heart is sanctified, the life will be so too: the Temple had gold without as well as within.

6. The sixth sign, steadfast resolution.


1. It is the will of God that we should be holy. In the text, "This is the will of God, your sanctification." As God's Word must be the rule, so His will the reason of our actions: this is the will of God, our sanctification. Perhaps it is not the will of God we should be rich, but it is His will that we should be holy. God's will is our warrant.

2. Jesus Christ hath died for our sanctification. Christ shed His blood to wash off our impurity.

3. Sanctification makes us resemble God.

4. Sanctification is that which God bears a great love to. A king delights to see his image upon a piece of coin: where God sees His likeness, there He gives His love.

5. Sanctification is the only thing doth difference us from the wicked.

6. It is as great a shame to have the name of a Christian, yet want sanctity, as to have the name of steward, and yet want fidelity; the name of a virgin, yet want chastity.

7. Sanctification fits for heaven: "Who hath called us to glory and virtue." Glory is the throne, and sanctification is the step by which we ascend to it.


1. Be conversant in the Word of God: "Sanctify them through Thy truth." The Word is both a glass to show us the spots of our soul, and a laver to wash them away.

2. Get faith in Christ's blood; "purifying their hearts by faith."

3. Breathe after the Spirit; it is called "the sanctification of the Spirit."

4. Associate with sanctified persons. Association begets assimilation.

5. Pray for sanctification.

(T. Watson.)

It is comparatively easy for some minds to grasp the outlines of a grand undertaking, but they fail in working out the details. They are more theoretical than practical. So it is possible to form a hold conception of some leading Christian virtue — beauty, dignity, and necessity; but all the while to ignore the little details which, in everyday life, constitute the essence of the virtue. Sanctification is the perfection of the Christian life, and is attained, not by some magical feat, but by patient plodding and stern conflicts. It is the sublime but little understood science of living aright, in the sight of God and man. Secretary Walsingham, in writing to Lord Burleigh, said: "We have lived long enough to our country, to our fortunes, and to our sovereign; it is high time that we began to live for ourselves and for our God." Observe:


1. This involves an abstinence from gross and sensual indulgence. "Fornication" (ver. 3) designates not only the actual transgression, but all the sinful lusts of the flesh. This vice is the source of many others. It is like the fabled Hydra, of which it is said that when one head was cut off another grew in its place. It is the root of extravagance, drunkenness, disease, poverty, murder. It is bewitching, prevalent, most fatal in its tendencies; and against it terrible vengeance has been declared and executed.

2. Involves a rigid maintenance of bodily purity (ver. 4). The vessel of the body is The temple of the Holy Ghost, and whatever would defile that must be shunned. The apostle implies that there is a kind of art in chastity which all should practice. "Know," i.e., have skill, the power of self-control. Christianity is the science of sciences, the art of living well; and no small skill is necessary in regulating the exercise of the Christian virtues. To possess, to rule the body in purity, keep a diligent guard on the senses (Job 31:1; Proverbs 23:33; Genesis 39:6, 7); avoid the company and conversation of the sensual; be temperate, industrious, prayerful.

3. Involves a masterly restraint on the passionate outgoings of evil desire (ver. 6). Ignorance is the origin of unchastity; and the apostle shows to what an extent of wickedness a man may go who knows not God. An old writer says: "Ignorance is a master, a mother sin: pull it, thou pullest all sin." Evil must be restrained in its earliest manifestation; banished from the region of thought. The longer it is harboured, the more powerful it becomes.


1. That no violation of justice is allowable. The prohibition extends not only to acts of unchastity, but to all the transactions of life. The value of a commodity is governed by its relation to the immediate wants of man. In nature that which has life and sense is more excellent than an inanimate creature: in this view an insect is superior to a diamond. But with regard to use, a loaf of bread is of more value than a thousand insects. Justice requires there should be a fair proportion between a thing and its price. To exact a price which is beyond the worth of the commodity sold, or to give a sum which is below its due value, is to overreach on the part either of the seller or the buyer. The commercial world of the present day might ponder with advantage the wholesome lessons to be learnt from the practice of an ancient Christian simplicity. The man who begins a course of dishonesty by defrauding a stranger will soon reach the point of cheating his dearest brother and chuckle at his unjust success.

2. That every violation of justice will be certainly punished. The rogue will not always triumph; and his ill-gotten gains may be the instruments of his curse. An all-seeing Eye watches and an Unseen Hand rests on all his accumulations. The successful robber is apt to lull himself into a false security. But "the Lord is the avenger of all such" (Proverbs 22:22, 23; Proverbs 23:10). Not that we are to act honestly from the fear of punishment; but while striving to act rightly from love to God and a sense of duty, it is also salutary to remember that vengeance belongeth unto the Lord, and He will recompense. Where human justice fails, the Divine vengeance will supply the deficiency.

III. THAT A TRUE SANCTIFICATION RECOGNIZES THE SUPREME AUTHORITY OF THE DIVINE CALL (ver. 7). A holy life gives no license to sin. Everything is in favour of holiness; the caller is holy (1 Peter 1:15), the instrument holy (John 17:17), and the Spirit, the immediate worker, is the fountain of all holiness. Religion is a holy calling, because it leads to holiness; and though it finds us not holy, yet it makes us so. They answer not their calling who commit any manner of sin. Unmercifulness, cruelty, fornication, fraud and uncleanness are not of God. In every temptation to evil remember the Divine calling. Lessons: A true sanctification —

1. Provides for the chastity of the whole man.

2. Governs all the transactions of daily life.

3. Responds to the highest call of God.

(G. Barlow.)

I. WHY THE SPIRIT WAS SENT. The first purpose which was to be answered by Christ's coming in the flesh was, as St. Paul tells us, that He might "redeem us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." Christ's death has answered that purpose fully; for, as the same apostle declares, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law." But there are other things in Christianity beside the death of Christ; and they must have their purpose also. Why was the Holy Ghost sent to us? and why does He vouchsafe to come? He comes to sanctify us men. You remember that, in the account of the creation, God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him." This image of God in the soul of man — for that, of course, is the thing meant — did net descend from Adam to his children. He lost it at the fall, and so could not leave it to his posterity. Adam's first son was born in the likeness of sinful man. What was the consequence? "All flesh corrupted his way upon the earth." At last it became quite clear that, so long as this evil root — this hereditary taint — remained within us uncorrected, so long men would go on sinning; nay, would grow worse and worse; just as a bowl with a bias, if you try to send it straight, the longer it rolls, the further it will swerve. Now, if this state of things could be allowed to go on, Christ would have died in vain; therefore, that He might finish the work He had begun for us, He sent His Holy Spirit to correct the bias of our evil nature, and gradually renew the image of God in our souls. This includes the renewal "in the spirit of our minds," and the putting on "the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Here, then, is another great purpose which the plan of our redemption is meant to answer. The death of Christ was to redeem us; the coming of the Holy Ghost is to sanctify us. "For this is the will of God," etc.

II. THE SPIRIT'S DIFFICULTY IN SANCTIFYING. That must needs be a great and difficult task which the Holy Ghost has taken upon Himself. Could a lesser arm have upheld us in our battle against sin, God would have sent us that lesser and weaker arm. But He sends us His own Spirit. The work, then, from its importance and difficulty, must be worthy of that eternal Spirit. It is a war against sin and Satan. Satan has lodged himself in the heart, and knowing the value of the heart, he will fight for it inch by inch. But the work of sanctification is something more than merely driving out Satan: it is binding the old man which has hitherto held a tyrannous sway within us, and replacing him by the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. To sanctify or hallow a thing is to set it apart for God's service. Thus Christians are called in Scripture "holy" and "saints," because they are God's people and serve Him. So when we say that it is God's will we should be sanctified or hallowed, this is the same as saying that our hearts ought to be like a church. A church is a house of prayer; and our hearts should be full of prayer also. Again, a church is the place for reading and explaining the Word of God; and the Word of God must be the food of our minds and the delight and meditation of our hearts. Moreover, a church is the last place for doing any wicked thing; so should it be with the heart of a Christian. Above all, a church is devoted to God; and this is the chief mark of a Christian: he should be devoted — heart and mind, soul and body, wholly given up to God's service. Not always praying, not always reading the Bible; but he is to be always serving God. Strength, as well as liveliness, is necessary to a principle; and it is the principle of sanctification to give ourselves up to God, and to give up everything that offends Him. In fine, it is in a measure living the life of heaven upon earth. This is God's will, and this is our beatitude.

(A. W. Hare, A. M.)


1. This word has been misunderstood and abused.(1) There are some who expect to become different beings, with different ideas and qualities from those they now have. Thus when they find old sins reappearing under new names, needing the revival of grace, they become disheartened, and doubt their Christianity.(2) Others take refuge in small improvements, and think the work of sanctification is going on because this lust has died out or that temper curbed.

2. Let us grasp its meaning. It is applied in Scripture —(1) To things: the Sabbath, Mount Horeb, the Tabernacle, Altar, Temple; and in each case means consecration, for no moral change can pass over these things.(2) To persons: priests, prophets, the Jewish nation; and still the idea is appropriation, the stamping with God's image and superscription.(3) We pass on to gospel times.(a) Sometimes it is the grand universal consecration which Christ made in redemption: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all."(b) Sometimes it is the first great individual consecration at conversion: "The blood of the covenant wherewith he warn sanctified"; "But ye were washed, ye were sanctified."(c) Sometimes, as in the text, it is the progressive realization in spirit and conduct of the one all embracing consecration; not a change of nature, but an increasing, brightening presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul, into transformation of character and life.(d) Sometimes the complete identification of the will of man and the will of God, which is consecration consummated.

3. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this view. This is the redeemed man living his redemption, the forgiven man living his absolution, the consecrated man living his consecration.(1) Here is the antidote to self-righteousness: "Nor I, but Christ liveth in me."(2). Here is the antidote to despondency: "In me" truly "there dwelleth no good thing"; but I am encouraged to look to God for help.(3) Here is the antidote to all that petty, piecemeal, retail righteousness which dwarfs the aspirations of many. There are many who are building their little separate towers for the chance of reaching heaven — one trying to build a treasure house of charity, another to beautify taste into piety, another to construct a substitute for grace out of natural negative virtues, but all missing the very point of Christian perfection, the becoming in deed that which God has made us all in idea — His entirely. Consecration is the being absolutely, and of a glad heart, God's.

4. There are special foes of this consecration.(1) It is a ruinous error to dream of the ideal and to neglect the practical This is antinomianism.(2) There are sins which make havoc of this consecration, of which St. Paul speaks in the context — sins which divide allegiance, sully loyalty, and fill God's temple with foul and filthy idols.

II. Our sanctification is THE WILL OF GOD.

1. God's will is the true law of our lives. This is expressed without reservation, and all amounts to this — our consecration.

2. What God wills He will help us to realize. If there is failure, it is attributable to want of prayer, faith, and cooperation with God.

3. There is no way of acceptance with God but in conformity to His will. God being what He is, must will our sanctification. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

(Dean Vaughan.)

1. God has a will. Will implies reason; God is infinite reason. Will implies force; it is determination: God is infinite force. Will, free, uncontrolled, is the expression of the willer's nature. God's nature is holy, benevolent, unchangeable.

2. God has a will concerning man. Insignificant though man be as compared with the universe, and less than nothing as compared with his Maker, he, nevertheless, engages the mind and heart of God. Glorious truth this!

3. God's will concerning man is his holiness. "Sanctification" man's holiness, and holiness is moral excellence, assimilation to Himself. If this be the will of God concerning man, two conclusions deserve special notice.

I. THAT MAN'S GRAND DUTY CHIMES IN WITH HIS MORAL INTUITIONS AND HIGHEST INTEREST. What is the grand duty of man? Obedience to the Divine will. Philosophy can return no other answer.

1. Our moral intuitions urge us to holiness. There is one ideal character which they are constantly intruding on our notice, urging us to cultivate. Moral souls everywhere on earth feel that they should be true, honest, generous, pure, and devout; in other words, that they should be holy.

2. Our highest interest urges us to holiness. The history of the world shows that men have been prosperous and happy in proportion to their virtues; and human consciousness attests that men are only inwardly happy as they feel that they have lived and done the thing that is right and true. So, then, the great demand of the Bible, instead of being in the slightest degree incongruous with human nature or its interests, blends in with the strictest accordance.

II. THAT MAN HAS AN INFALLIBLE GUIDE TO DETERMINE THE SUCCESSFUL IN PRAYER AND EFFORT. He who goes with God's will goes with omnipotence, and if he goes rightly, must succeed.

1. Successful prayers are prayers for holiness. He who prays for health, long life, secular property, has no reason to expect an answer only so far as these are sought with the grand motive of promoting holiness. God has not promised to answer any prayer that has not the desire for holiness as its inspiration.

2. Successful efforts are efforts for holiness. Efforts after wealth, influence, power, fame, may, and frequently do, succeed; but what then? If the inspiring motive has not been holiness, the end, which is happiness, is not obtained. Since God's will is our holiness, no human effort for happiness not aiming at the grand end has ever been, or can ever be, successful. Whatever may be the appearance of things, all prayers and effort not aiming at holiness are failures.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)


1. The patriarchal (Genesis 30:1).

2. The Mosaic (Exodus 19.; Leviticus 11.).

3. The Christian (Ephesians 5:25-27).


1. Man's responsibility.

2. God's perfections.

3. The doctrine, exhibition, and temporal and eternal punishment of sin.

4. The provision and offer of redemption.

5. Holy precepts, to which are attached abundant rewards.


1. He is the Author of our regeneration, which is holiness began.

2. He is the Author of the truth, which is the means of holiness, and applies that truth to the heart.

3. He is the Fountain of continual supplies of that grace, growth in which is progressive sanctification.

(J. F. Denham.)

Family Churchman.
It is God's will, the great purpose that He has at heart, that men should be holy. "Sanctify them through Thy truth," etc. Pardon and all other blessings are means to this end. The Great Sculptor plans and labours only for a torso in room of a statue without this; the Great Builder would never see the top stone in His chosen temple without this; the Great Husbandman would never taste of the fruit of His labour without this. Now, if our sanctification — our growing holiness here and our perfected holiness hereafter — is God's will, then —

I. HOLINESS IS A GREAT AND BLESSED CONSUMMATION. "Good is the will of the Lord." There can be nothing so great and blessed for any creature as to have God's will perfected in it. Only in holiness are eternal life and blessedness possible. To have the thoughts pure, the life at. every point and in all its interests set like music to the words of God's law, the soul moulded into the image of Christ, that is to have heaven begun.

II. GOD WILL SPARE NO PAINS TO CREATE AND PERFECT HOLINESS IN A MAN'S SOUL. He has spared no sacrifice, in that He sent His Son; for it was the essence and heart of Christ's mission to "purify unto Himself a peculiar people," etc. And still towards and in us He will direct His working to this great end. He will prune this vine, that it may bear more fruit. He will cut, and chisel, and polish, till the fair image of Christ is seen. And as we smart, and weep, and wonder at our heavenly Father's severity, let us think of His great purpose.

III. WE ARE BOUND TO COOPERATE WITH GOD IN THIS GREAT END. "God wills it," said the Crusaders, and buckled on their armour for the conquest of the Holy Land. "God wills it" that we should pray, and strive, and fight for a purer and higher conquest. And what a start God gives us in His forgiveness through Christ! He thereby gives us freedom, gratitude, momentum; and in our whole warfare with sin He gives His Holy Spirit to inspire, direct, and sustain.

IV. WE ARE ASSURED OF SUCCESS. If it is His will, "who can be against us?"

(Family Churchman.)


1. Regeneration is once for all done, and is the beginning of holiness, whereas sanctification is its progressive advancement. One is the implantment of holy principles and affections; the other their issue in a holy character.

2. Justification, while it does now exclude the present, has special reference to the past, while sanctification is chiefly directed to the present and the future. The one is something done for us, the other something done in us. The one is a change of relation, the other a change of character. The one implies pardon, the other purity.

3. Morality. This may exist without sanctification, as is seen in the lives of many worldly men. But sanctification cannot exist without morality. Morality is not to be disparaged; but there is no perfection without Christ.

II. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY SANCTIFICATION? Religion implanted in the heart and conspicuous in the life.

1. "The kingdom of God is within you." Christianity begins in the heart, and forms the life by forming the dispositions. It works from centre to circumference. It does not consist in having, but in being.

2. Its fruits will always be apparent. Grace in the germ is hidden, but it is always manifest in the life. It is a light that shines, a fire that burns. How grace grows is a mystery; but when grown it is read and known of all men. Your life as to its source and supply is "hid with Christ in God"; but as to its practical effect, it is "a city set on a hill."


1. The ultimate cause is God the Holy Ghost. Men may fashion a block of stone into the figure of a man, so admirably that the sculpture seems to look, and breathe, and speak; but it is not a man. It is merely an image; it wants life, which no created power can give. So it is here. Spiritual life in all its stages is a direct inspiration from God, and impossible without such inspiration. And He who gives life alone can sustain it.

2. The instrumental cause is truth. "Of His own will begat He us," etc. "Sanctify them through Thy truth." Sanctification is the effect not of the separate, but conjoint influence of the Holy Spirit in the heart, and the Word on the understanding, the one removing prejudice, the other dispersing ignorance.


1. Where there is life there will be progress — in vegetation, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and in each case gradually.

2. This is a progress that affects the whole manhood, a harmonious development of an entire Christian character. Just as in the healthful growth of a tree there is growth, not only of the roots but the shoots, branches, foliage, and fruit; so in the Christian the development is not of one grace, but of all. There is much diversity. Grace does not produce uniformity in the human character; but still the finest specimen of a Christian is the man in whom all graces are in their proportion.

3. Its beginning is here, but its progress forever. Heaven begins on earth, and earth merges into heaven.

V. SANCTIFICATION IS THE WILL OF GOD. Not simply the command, but the good pleasure of God.

1. It is necessarily so. He who is Light cannot love darkness; He who is Life cannot love death.

2. It is wrought in harmony with the nature of the human will. God works in what we have to work out.

3. What an encouragement is this! In all our struggles after goodness we may be sure of Divine sympathy and help.

4. With what solemnity does this invest the subject, for it follows that without holiness no man shall see the Lord.

(J. Davies.)


1. It is the invariable result of union with Christ (John 15:5). He whom the Blood cleanses walks in the light. He who has a lively hope in Christ purifies himself, as He is pure (1 John 1:7; 1 John 3:3).

2. It is the outcome and invariable consequence of regeneration. The new creature lives a new life (1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:9-14; 1 John 5:4-18).

3. It is the only certain evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is essential to salvation (Romans 8:9). The Spirit never lies idle in the soul, but makes His presence known by His fruits (Galatians 5:22). It, is nonsense to suppose that we have the Spirit if we do not walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25; Romans 8:14).

4. It is the only sure mark of God's election. There is much that is mysterious about this subject; but nothing is plainer than that the elect are known by their holy lives (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

5. It is a thing that will always be seen. It cannot be hid.

6. It is a thing for which every believer is responsible. Every man has power to lose his own soul; but believers are under special obligation to live holy lives.

7. It is a thing which admits of growth and progress.

8. It depends largely on a diligent use of Scriptural means — Bible reading, private prayer, attendance on public worship, regular communion. There are no spiritual gains without pains.

9. It does not prevent a man having a great deal of inward spiritual conflict (Galatians 5:17; Romans 7:1).

10. It cannot justify a man, but it pleases God (Romans 3:20-28; Hebrews 13:16; Colossians 3:20; 1 John 3:22). Just as a parent is pleased with the efforts of his little child to please him, though it be only by picking a daisy, so our heavenly Father is pleased with the poor performances of His believing children. But they must first be believing — i.e., justified children; for "without faith it is impossible to please God."

11. It will be found absolutely necessary as a witness to our character in the day of judgment, it will then be utterly useless to plead our faith if it has not been evidenced by our works.

12. It is necessary to train us for heaven. Then hope to get there; but the only way is "the way of holiness." We must be saints before we die if we are to be saints in glory. When an eagle is happy in an iron cage, a fish happy on dry land, then will an unsanctified man be happy in heaven.


1. It does not consist in —

(1)Talk about religion (1 John 3:18).

(2)Temporary religious feelings (Matthew 13:20).

(3)Outward formalism and external devoutness.

(4)Retirement from our place in life (John 17:15).

(5)The occasional performance of right actions (Mark 6:20).

2. It will show itself in —(1) Habitual respect to God's law, and the habitual effort to live in obedience to it as the rule of life (1 Timothy 1:8; Romans 7:22).(2) An habitual endeavour to do Christ's will (John 15:14).(3) An habitual desire to live up to the standard which Paul sets before the Churches in the closing chapters of nearly all his Epistles.(4) Habitual attention to the active graces which our Lord exemplified, and especially the grace of charity (John 13:34, 35; Colossians 3:10).(5) Habitual attention to the passive graces of Christianity, which are especially shown in submission to God and forbearance towards man (1 Peter 2:21-23; Galatians 5:22, 23).


1. In what are they alike?

(1)Both proceed originally from the free grace of God.

(2)Both are part of the great work of salvation which Christ. has undertaken on behalf of His people.

(3)Both are found in the same persons.

(4)Both begin at the same time.

(5)Both are alike necessary to salvation.

2. In what they differ.(1) Justification is the reckoning a man to be righteous for the sake of Christ; sanctification is making a man righteous.(2) The righteousness we have by our justification is not our own, but Christ's; that which we have by sanctification is our own, imparted by the Holy Ghost.(3) In justification our works have no place at all, simple faith in Christ being the one thing needful; in sanctification our works are of vast importance, and are commanded by God.(4) Justification admits of no growth; sanctification is essentially progressive.(5) Justification has special reference to our persons; sanctification to our natures.(6) Justification gives us our title; sanctification our meetness for heaven.(7) Justification is the act of God about us; sanctification the work of God within us.


1. Let us awake to a sense of the perilous state of many professing Christians (Hebrews 12:14).

2. Let us make sure work of our own condition.

3. We must begin with Christ. We must first live and then work.

4. We must continually go on as we began (Ephesians 4:16).

5. Let us not expect too much from our hearts here below. The more light we have the more we shall see our own imperfection. Absolute perfection is yet to come.

6. Let us never be ashamed of making much of sanctification.

(Bp. Ryle.)


1. Sanctification is the restoration of that which was ruined by the apostasy. If it were only to bring things back to the primitive order which He pronounced to be very good, it is in God's view most desirable that man should be made holy. We do not wish to see a ship dismasted, a man lame, or a machine out of order. It delights us to see them restored to their natural state. So God delights in a restoration to the primitive moral order.

2. Sanctification is the complete reconciliation of man to God. As a lover of order, He must be pleased to see man reconciled to the perfect order He has established. Sin is a quarrel with God's arrangements. Sanctification is a return to perfect harmony with God and His government.

3. It is the restoration of perfect loveliness to man. God abhors sin partly because of its moral repulsiveness, and loves holiness because of its moral beauty.


1. We see more than desire; we see great earnestness in these. This earnestness comes to us in the form of authority. We are made for law, and are susceptible to the requirements of authority. See, then, the eternal God coming down to Sinai to make a law requiring men to be holy, and throwing around that law all the sanctions of Divine approbation and displeasure. To this mighty influence He adds the potent discipline of His Providence pruning us that we may be fruitful. Then, further, there is the mission of Christ, and the ministry of the Spirit.

2. With our minds full of these facts, let us see their practical consequences.(1) We should rejoice in afflictions. God, in chastening us, is aiming at our perfection. Christ was made perfect through suffering.(2) We should be earnest in the use of religious ordinances. These are the appointed means. "Sanctify them through Thy truth." And we should be confident of success in the right employment of them.(3) We should labour for each other's sanctification. As we are bound to pray, "Thy will be done," etc., so we are bound to desire that every human being may carry out that will by being holy.Conclusion: If God wills the sanctification of all men, then —

1. The condition of the irreligious is fearful.

2. Every one who knows what the will of God is, is bound at once to seek after holiness.

(E. N. Kirk, D. D.)

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