How many times have I heard a Christian say: there’s justification, which occurs when you are born again, and then there’s (the job of) sanctification! Neat. By sanctification they mean, if not in so few choice words, don’t just sit there on your pristine born anew bottie and talk holy talk; stand up and walk the holy walk.
Although Christians have indeed to sanctify themselves through living close to God and doing godly things, Christians who bisect the Gospel into two chronological stages, justification and sanctification, have a paltry idea of what both terms mean. In 1 Corinthians 1:2, we read:
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are SANCTIFIED in Christ Jesus, called to be SAINTS, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.”
Although the same Greek word “hagioi” is used in both “sanctified” and (called to be) “saints,” the first means that at the moment of justification, you become (you are passive) sanctified (holy). That is what the following scripture means:
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” ( 1 Peter 2:9).
God chooses whom (let’s say you) he decrees to save. You accept, of course, because when your corrupt will is released from bondage through God’s unilateral sovereign act of bringing you out of darkness into his light, you heart can want to do nothing else but leap and bound into the arms of your saviour. In this very process, as we found in 1 Corinthians 1:2, God declares you holy (and royal). You see, Calvinism isn’t all that horrid. No, it doesn’t teach that there’s no need to evangelise!
“Well and good, now I have to do the hard practical part and do holy deeds. No, I don’t want to be, I can never be a saint – what chuzpa! – because very few ever achieve that. Maybe a dozen, if that, a year.” Silly talk, I say. “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling,” you say. Who wouldn’t tremble knowing that it is Christ working in you:
“… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12b-13).