Lesson 5 – The Doctrine of Sanctification

The Doctrine of Sanctification  

Lesson Aim:     To show how a Christian’s reconciliation to God opens the door for our sanctification.   

Scripture:         Romans 6:12-23 

Word Definition: 

1.   Sanctification – Holiness:       (Greek word, hagiasmos, noun).  Rom. 6:19, 22.   It means a setting apart to God.   Sanctification is thus the state predetermined by God for believers:   Into which grace God calls Christians and in which we begin our Christian course to pursue sanctification.  Hence we are called saints. 

2.   Saint,  Holy  – (hagios, adj.): Set apart, separate.  Translated saint in the following scriptures. Rom. 1:7; 8:27; 12:13; 15:25, 26, 31; 16:2, 15. Translated holy in the following scripture: Rom. 1:2; 7:12; 11:16; 12:1; 16:15. 

3.   Sanctified – (hagiazo, verb): To separate, set apart, see Rom. 15:16.  Note the similarity of the basic Greek word from which the above words were translated.  Translators freely interchange the words sanctification and holiness.


There are several doctrines in God’s word that should not be taught before certain other subjects are understood.  The doctrine of sanctification is one of these subjects.  We must understand the doctrine of justification before we approach the great subject of sanctification.  Of course, we cannot talk about justification before the new birth.  We cannot properly understand the doctrine before establishing God’s righteousness is now manifested “in Christ.”  We are exhorted to present ourselves to God as those alive from the dead and the members of our bodies as instruments of righteousness to God (V. 13).  To present ourselves as instruments of righteousness we must first have a manifestation of God’s righteousness.  We have this in the activities of Jesus Christ.  Please review the lessons on God’s righteousness in Part II.

Christians need the law of faith rather than the law of works to be able to participate “in Christ” where God’s righteousness is revealed.  We became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which we were committed and we were born again (V. 17).  However, we still have our Adam nature with the knowledge of good and evil.  By our own works we still would be classified as sinners; therefore, God freed Christians from the demands of the Law of Moses to keep sin from becoming our master (V. 14).

What shall our attitude be toward God and His righteousness?  The Apostle Paul suggests we dedicate the members of our body just as firmly to serving God’s righteousness as we served impurity and lawlessness before we were transferred “into Christ,” (V. 19).  It is at this point Christians become slaves to God’s righteousness.  “Let God be true, and every man a liar” is our new attitude (Romans 3:4).  When we adopt the attitude of a slave, Paul said this will lead us to sanctification.  


Man’s part in our new birth processes before baptism is faith and repentance.  A Christian’s part in our justification and sanctification is still faith and repentance.  “In Christ” we continue to walk by faith and God counts us righteous while we improve our unrighteousness.  We are obedient to our faith (Rom. 1:5).  “In Christ” we maintain a repentant attitude as we learn more of God’s will for us.  As we walk by faith with a repentant attitude God’s calls us saints, or holy.  See the scriptures under Word Definitions, point #2.  God sets us apart for His special service in this world as sons of God.  Sanctification is the development of Christians as sons of God.  By the grace of God, He counts us as saints while we work on becoming saints in our minds and hearts (Matthew 5:3-12).  

This is the new covenant in Jesus blood (Heb. 8:10-12).  It is not an easy course (Heb. 12:5-11).  At the same time it is a joyous course because of our spiritual growth (Rom. 5:3-5).  Spiritual growth is another way of describing our sanctification.  The Apostle Peter described the basic idea of this course in I Peter 1:13-16.  It is a mind and heart growth course.  Righteousness is a behavioral growth course.  They work together but we understand good habits come from healthy minds and hearts (Matt. 7:24).  Emotional attitudes that have their base in faith tend to become “who we are” while putting them into practice.  Abraham’s faith was “made complete” in his practice of righteousness (Jas. 2:22).  He became known as the father of the faithful (Rom. 4:16).  Faith without works will not lead to sanctification (Jas. 2:17-19).  The works of a slave glorify his master.  Christians are a very special kind of slave in God’s eye.  We are saints.  The only works of man that glorify God are the works of a saint. 

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  Matt. 5:16 

Perhaps this story will illustrate the point.  A very busy business man owned an estate with a large flower garden.  He belongs to the local garden club and in his slower business years enjoyed showing his friends through his garden.  He is now too busy to keep his garden, but still has a desire to keep his prestigious position in the garden club.  He engages a servant to take care of his garden.  This man worked hard and excelled in producing a beautiful flower garden.  In return, he is paid a good salary.  The owner had the opportunity to show his friends through his lovely garden.  They are favorably impressed and just as they are complimenting the business man on his well kept garden and beautiful flowers, lo and behold, the hired gardener steps out and declares he was the one who did all the work.  We can easily see he was not the kind of servant whose work glorified his master.

We were dead in sin and were enemies of God when His love for us and His faithfulness to His righteousness moved Him to let Jesus die on the cross for us (Rom 3:3, 25).  We were resurrected from our spiritual dead state because of His love and justice.  It is by grace.  In Christ, we are counted as righteous because of our faith.  We are not righteous because of our works.  We have a free manifestation of God’s righteousness.  It is by grace.  When we show our appreciation by becoming a slave to God’s righteousness, He gives us more grace.   He views us and uses us as saints.  Christians enjoy several great gifts by grace.  We have not earned any portion of any one of them.  These gifts do not take years to receive.  It can all happen in the time it takes to be born again. 

What is the outcome of all of this for saints?  The present answer is; we are free to grow and serve “in the new way of the Spirit.”  Rom. 7:6.  We work on changing our bad attitudes and habits under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit; howbeit, free of guilt.  We cannot overcome a weakness in ourselves and feel guilty about it at the same time.  The final answer is eternal life (V. 22).  On the Day of Judgment God will be judging our works.  The works of a saint will be pleasing to God because they glorify God (Rom. 2:6, 10).  God has made us alive “in Christ.”  He is counting us as righteous because of our faith and calling us saints because of our attitude as slaves.  Neither is by works, therefore, we can conclude that eternal life is truly a free gift even if Judgment Day will be based on works.  God is only asking us to work as a saint.

What is the doctrine of sanctification?  We simply become a slave to God’s righteousness; that is, we throw out our own ideas of righteousness (V. 16, 22).   We give up all the projects we have been using to glorify ourselves.  We let God be true and ourselves as slaves to this truth.  We have only two choices.  We can become a slave to God’s righteousness or we will become a slave to sin.  It appears we are just not made to be masters over our own vessels while we live in bodies like Adam.  We were made in the image of God and eternal life with God as His children is our destiny.  To maintain this course, we must become slaves to God’s righteousness.   

Questions for Discussion

  1.  Name the doctrine that must be understood before we can understand the doctrine of sanctification.
  2. What must we have revealed to us before we can present our bodies as instruments of righteousness?
  3. What are Christians freed from in order to keep sin from becoming our master?
  4. Where only can people enjoy God’s righteousness as a free gift?
  5. What should our attitude be toward God’s righteousness?
  6. Explain the doctrine of sanctification. 
  7. When does a Christian’s works glorify God?  Explain Matthew 5:16 in relation to the doctrine of sanctification.
  8. How long does it take a sinner to become 100% righteous and a saint?
  9. What are the present blessings Christians have in our sainthood program?
  10.   What are the two choices we have in our service as slaves?


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply