Lesson Four – The Saint

The Saint

Lesson Aim:  To reveal the doctrine of sanctification and to show how the result of this doctrine plus justification gives life to those who have been born again.


The study and practice of the doctrine of sanctification is vital to our future relationship with God.  The author of the Hebrew epistle said, “Pursue peace with all men, and sanctification without it which no man will see God! Heb. 12:14.  Sanctification, or spiritual growth, happens when Christians follow the teachings of Jesus Christ as they have been set forth by His words and His incarnate life.  He prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.”  John 17:17.

The Greek word, didache, meaning the substance of what is being taught, has been translated doctrine in Paul’s instructions to Titus about the qualifications of elders.  He commanded, “that he be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”  Titus 1:9.  This same word is translated teaching in Matthew’s comment about the people’s response to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  He said, “The multitudes were amazed at His teaching.”  Matt. 7:28.  Paul used the Greek word, didaskalia, which means the substance of what is taught, when he said, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” I Tim. 5:17.  The King James Version reads, “those who labor in the word and doctrine.”  The same word is used in II Timothy 3:16, 17, where Paul said to Timothy, “All scripture is inspired of God and profitable for teaching (KJV, doctrine), for righteousness: that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

In Lesson One we learned about the doctrine of the two realms now available to mankind.  In Lessons Two and Three we learned about the new birth and justification by faith.  In this lesson we will study the doctrine of sanctification.  The result of the four doctrines is stated by the Apostle Paul in the following scripture.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption that, just as it is written, let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.  I Cor. 1:30, 31

The dynamics of these doctrines and their obedience put the Corinthian Christians “in Christ” and gave them righteousness, sanctification and redemption (Rom. 6:17).  How this happened has been set forth in the following scripture.

And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of God. I Cor. 6:11

This is how the Corinthian Christians became a part of the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:12, 13).  The “in Christ” has been provided by God’s grace for our spiritual growth in righteousness and holiness. This brought about reconciliation to God for obedient believers (II Cor. 5:17-19).  Reconciliation means a change of status or relationship (Gal. 4:7).  Just as the processes of the new birth attains instant redemption, there are other doctrines that work just as quickly to keep Christians in a favorable relationship with God and ourselves.  Justification gives us an immediate state of righteousness, as we learned in our last lesson.  In this lesson we shall see how we can be a saint while we work on our sanctification.  There is a doctrine that offers Christians a “state” of being saints while we work on the “on going” process.

It must be understood, although we are attempting to teach these doctrines separately, they all function together.  The result of all four doctrines in I Corinthians 1:30 gives Christians the “justified life” spoken of in Romans 5:18.


A word study of sanctification:  Holiness and sanctification both have been translated from the Greek word hagiasmos.  Saint and holy were both translated from hagios.  These words are merely symbols being used to communicate doctrines.  In other words, a word means what the user of the word meant for it to mean in the sentence.  Consequently, we will want to consider the different texts in which the words “sanctification” and “saint” are used in God’s word to determine their respective meanings.

In II Thess. 2:13 the word “sanctification” is used to symbolize a life being set apart for God by the Holy Spirit.  This happens by growth from spiritual death to spiritual life.  Salvation is through sanctification.  This means salvation from sin and death belongs to Christians, if we are judged to be living with God and separate from the world.  Sanctification is used in the same way in I Cor. 1:30.  There is a course of life God wills we should be found moving upon.  This is also communicated in I Thess. 4:3, 4, 7 and in Rom. 6:19, 22 by the word sanctification.

When we have faith in Christ and His doctrines we enter into a certain relationship with God.  In Acts 26:18 and I Cor. 6:11 that relationship is described as sanctified; consequently, Christians are saints immediately after our new birth (I Cor. 1:2; II Cor. 1:1).  Perhaps the foregoing contextual study will help us to better appreciate the use of the words sanctification and saint.

The process of holiness:  The New Testament writers used the word sanctification in several scriptures to depict “spiritual growth.”  For instance in Romans 6:17-23, we learn that sinners who were slaves of sin became obedient to the doctrine involving baptism.  They were freed from sin and became slaves to God’s righteousness.  The result was their sanctification, or a new course of life.  Their part in this series of events leading to sanctification was their obedience to the form of doctrine they received.  Their obedience was from the heart; that is, it was an emotional experience because, by faith, they saw something good.  They came to understand they were slaves of sin but they also saw how they could be free from sin by becoming slaves to God.  This change of attitude, or repentance, was what finally put them on the right course – sanctification.  They can now grow spiritually and the outcome will be eternal life.

These Christians have not grown up yet but they are now growing.  They are conforming to the image of Jesus which is why God created them in the first place (Rom. 8:28-30).  This is a doctrine about growing spiritually.  It is the doctrine of sanctification.  They, or we, if we are faithful Christians, are slaves to God’s righteousness.  Attitudes are the key factor to understand when we discuss man’s part in spiritual growth.  Living a righteous life is the product.

The state of being a saint:  Before we continue with the “on going” process of holiness, let us consider a doctrine that allows Christians to be saints while our spiritual growth is taking place.  We remember from our lesson on justification how there is an “on going” process of changing our behavior from unrighteousness to being more righteous; that is, we are less unjust and more just in our activities with other people.  Also, as Christians walk by faith in the blood of Jesus, God gives us a gift of righteousness (Rom. 5:17).  God looks upon us as if we are righteous just as Christ is righteous (I John 3:7).  Faithful Christians are counted as righteous while we work on improving.  In the same way God views Christians as saints before we are actually as holy as He is holy (I Pet. 1:16).  Paul said, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  Eph. 1:4Are we holy and blameless before Him right now, or are we merely struggling along this road, “winning some and losing some,” but making progress; or could both be possible?  Both are not only possible, but a reality for faithful repentant minded sons of God.

Now let us examine the Colossian saints and understand how they were called saints and faithful brethren, while, in fact, they had some serious character defects.  Paul acknowledged they were saints in his introduction of his epistle; however, he spoke of their character defects that were not holy in the third chapter.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father.  Col. 1:1, 2

But now you also, put them all aside:  anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices.  Col. 3:8, 9

They were the chosen of God, holy and beloved, but they were not as perfect as our heavenly Father (Matt. 5:48).  We must conclude a doctrine was working for the Colossians resulting in sanctification as a process of growing up, as well as a grace doctrine giving them the state of being a saint.  The fact is Christians become saints at the same time we are born again.  We may not be able to find a scripture that states this doctrine in just this manner, but we know there is one working for us because Paul called the brethren at Colossae saints while they still had a problem with anger and wrath.  We know there is a way to be a saint while we “put off” the old way of life, which is spiritual death, and “put on” the new creation because it happened to the brethren at Colossae.

The Corinthian brethren are also a prime example of Christians who were addressed by Paul, as those “Who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling,” and yet they had serious problems (I Cor. 1:2).  Even though we must arrive at this doctrine by deduction about Christians being classified as saints, still, we understand we are saints immediately after our new birth.  When God separates sinners from their sins, He also sets them apart from the world by adding them to His church, the sanctified (Acts 2:38, 47).  The word “saint” basically means set apart.  In the following scripture, which is his commission, Paul was authorized to offer the Gentiles an opportunity to immediately enjoy the same blessings as those Christians who had already been sanctified.

…to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.  Acts 26:18

The believer’s part:  In all of the functions of the doctrines based on God’s grace because of the cross, God has a part and the believers have a part.  God offers us a covenant and we must accept it in His prescribed manner – something is required of us.  It is not something that merits the blessing because it is by grace, but still we must make some response.  What then is the believer’s responsibility in the doctrine which lets us enjoy the state of being a saint?  Again by deduction we see that our part involves our attitude toward God’s righteousness.  The scriptures are very clear about our part.  Consider this statement, “so now present your members as slaves to righteousness resulting in sanctification.”  Rom. 6:19.  Also, we read “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefits, resulting in sanctification.”  Rom. 6:22.  No doubt, the writer has the process of sanctification in mind in the context of these scriptures, but the state of being a saint is evident at every given point in the process.  It is the Christians’ attitude that is of the utmost importance.  We must have the attitude of being slaves to God’s righteousness.  This is our part in our process of spiritual growth, and at the same the time, it is our part in our state of being a saint.

Jesus would have gathered all people in Jerusalem to Himself, as a hen gathers her chickens, but they would not let Him (Matt. 23:37).  When we will submit to His righteousness He will gather us into His fellowship.  Repentant believers are set apart sons of God.  This attitude is first manifested in our repentance in the process of our new birth.  The repentant attitude of an alien sinner must be that they are willing to be slaves to God’s righteousness.  God sees this attitude as they are washed in baptism and sets them apart at once.  They are saints by His calling.  This doctrine awards Christians the “state” of being a saint while we work on the “on going” process.

A doctrine must be taught to be believed.  All of the spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus are taught as doctrines.  They take on substance but only for the faithful.  People must be taught to repent.  Jesus said, “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”  Luke 13:3.  Our attitude in repentance before baptism is the same attitude we maintain after baptism.  We accept God’s new covenant before baptism and we keep on accepting it after baptism.  We maintain a repentant heart and mind toward the new covenant (Heb. 8:10).  This attitude is man’s part in the doctrine of the “state” of being a saint.  God’s part is His fellowship with us as holy people (I John 1:5, 6).

Again, the process of holiness:  What will be the result of accepting God’s new covenant?  Now we are back to the “on going” process of sanctification; however, with the knowledge we are holy in God’s eyes.  Knowing God looks upon us as saints is very important to our being able to grow spiritually.  We will never be more than we perceive ourselves to be and we cannot perceive of ourselves as being other than what God declares us to be.  If God declares we are sinners, we are sinners.  If God declares we are His holy and blameless adopted children, then we are sons of God.  Identification is very important in the process of sanctification, or our socialization, into the society and culture of God’s kingdom.

Those of us who identify as sons of God behave more and more like sons of God as this new identity becomes internalized.  Christians who behave like sons of God begin to think and develop like sons of God.  Our identification is one reason why God gives us the Holy Spirit to bear witness with our spirits, so we can know we are sons of God (Rom. 8:16).  We shall delve deeper into spiritual growth in future lessons, but now let it suffice to say that when we let God write His laws on our hearts and minds, we conform to the image of Christ.  This is the “on going” process and the “only going” process of sanctification.   Christians must become dedicated to self improvement by being slaves to God’s righteousness.

For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.  Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.  I Thess. 4:7, 8

Combining the doctrines in the state and process:  Now we can clearly see how the doctrines of justification and sanctification, in their combined result, give us a justified life.  God is holy; therefore, we expect Him to behave in a right or just manner.  Christians, in and of ourselves, are not holy, we have some flaws; therefore, we do not always behave in a just manner.  If we are mature Christians we are more holy in character and more righteous in behavior than we were when we were first born again.  This can be attributed to the “on going” processes of justification and sanctification, but today, this hour, this very instant, we are both holy and blameless in the presence of God, our Father.  This state of affair can be attributed to the doctrines of sanctification and justification, respectively.  Justification is for our behavioral weaknesses and sanctification takes care of our character and personality defects.

Everything is working for Christians through Christ (I Cor. 8:6).  This shows we would still have a problem standing before God without the benefit of the grace doctrines.  But because of Christ we do not encounter God’s wrath (Rom. 5:9).  We are looked upon as holy in nature and righteous in our behavior in spite of the fact that we are deficient in quality in both areas.  Both of these spiritual gifts are granted based on our part of the new birth, that is, faith and repentance.  Our faith and repentance were present before the final process of our new birth, which is our baptism.  They are still present, but now they function as our part in the doctrines of sanctification and justification.

Let us follow the process.  When a sinner hears the message of the gospel, the proper response is faith.  If there is no faith the process halts right there.  For some it never starts because they do not hear.  Faith is necessary to move a sinner into the next process of his or her new birth, which is repentance.  Then faith must remain a part of the Christian life until his or her physical death, or until Jesus appears the second time.  Jesus said, “Be ye faithful until death, and I will give you a crown of life.”  Rev. 2:10.

Repentance is a change of attitude affecting our behavior.  For example, in the parable of the two sons and the vineyard, the second son, after being instructed to work in the vineyard, said to his father, “I will not; yet he afterward regretted (KJV, repented) it and went.”  Matt. 21:29.  Similarly a rebellious sinner decides to accept God’s covenant – to be a slave to God’s righteousness in his or her repentance.  If a sinner does not make this personal decision the processes of the new birth stops.  Likewise, Christians must not ever change our minds, or we will never see God in the manner we desire.

We can see how the faith and slavery attitude that lets us be holy and blameless after baptism had to be formed before we obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine preached to us.  There is only one form of doctrine to teach that completes the processes of the new birth.  Ananias told Paul, “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.”  Acts 22:16.  It takes all three doctrines: the new birth, justification and sanctification, to give Christians a justified life in Christ.  Christians have life, but we have not yet inherited life.  What is the difference?  The difference is the reason we must this moment be holy and blameless based on doctrines and not our own behavior and character.  We shall study more about our inheritance in a future lesson.  In this lesson our aim is to understand what Paul meant when he said, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.”  Rom. 5:18.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is a doctrine?
  2. What is the result of the four doctrines listed in I Cor. 1:30, 31?
  3. What does the doctrine of justification do for a faithful Christian?
  4. Although the grace doctrines can be explained individually, how must their function be understood?
  5. Give your understanding of sanctification as it is used in different Biblical contexts in this lesson.
  6. What is the “on going” process of sanctification?  Please list scriptures to support your point.
  7. What is the “state” of sanctification?
  8. How can we arrive at a doctrine that establishes instant sainthood?  Give scriptures to prove your point.
  9. What is the responsibility of Christians in the doctrine that allows us to be saints?  What is God’s part?
  10. When do these qualities from your answer of the preceding question begin to develop?
  11. When do Christians become saints?
  12. When does the “on going” process of sanctification begin?  When does it end?
  13. What is the value of the “state” of sainthood in relation to the “ongoing” process of sanctification?
  14. Explain how the doctrines of the new birth, justification and sanctification work together to produce the grace of a justified life.
  15. What suggests to Christians that we now have a problem that makes us dependent upon Jesus Christ?
  16. Which process of the new birth does the parable of the two sons and the vineyard illustrate?
  17. What would stop the processes of the new birth after they start?  For whom does it never start?
  18. Explain how Christians are holy and blameless in the context of Eph. 1:4.
  19. How did the Apostle Paul obey the form of doctrine that completed the processes of his new birth?
  20. Why does the term “justified life” best describe a faithful Christian’s life?

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