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 WHAT IS Sanctification? Pastor T. A. Hegre

WHAT IS Sanctification?
by Pastor T. A. Hegre

We have often been asked the following vital questions:

"What is sanctification?"
"What is the baptism with the Holy Spirit?"
"Are these two experiences one and the same?"
"Is one sanctified and filled with the Spirit when he is saved?"
"Is sanctification progressive?"

"Is one sanctified subsequent to regeneration, and then baptized with the Spirit subsequent to sanctification?"

"Are all Christian experiences ours the moment we are regenerated, and is our part just to appropriate them as we have light and grace to do so?"

Before seeking the answer to these questions, we should first of all read two passages of Scripture:

"This is the will of God, even your sanctification" (I Thess. 4:3).

"The grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no man despise thee" (Titus 2:11 - 15).

These two passages are indeed a plain statement of what God expects of a Christian, and they are certainly very inclusive. Salvation, according to the Scriptures, means more than "a decision." The Apostle Paul speaks not only of life but of a holy life; and again he is not satisfied with a holy life but insists also on service - holy service.

We have heard the expression, "We don't want doctrine; we want life." Now at first this saying sounds very spiritual, but in reality it is nothing but a pious phrase. We do want doctrine; we want the teachings of the Bible and of the Spirit, set forth in the simplest terms. We want and need to know the truth. Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Then too, others say, "We don't want the blessing; we want the Blesser." Again we reject this statement and say rather that we want both the blessing and the Blesser; we want Christ and the genuine blessing, the blessing that will abide.

We are certainly right in asking the question, "What is sanctification?" We must know the answer, for God's Word says that sanctification is His will for us. In the broad sense, sanctification includes all Christian experience from justification to glorification, beginning with the new birth and continuing in the Christian life until we meet the Lord face to face. However, the word sanctification is also used in a narrower sense, referring to a crisis experience following justification and regeneration. (Justification is the legal aspect and regeneration the moral and vital aspect of our salvation. At salvation we are both forgiven and born again.) Yet salvation is just the beginning of the Christian life. After this experience we should grow in grace.

Even with a genuine experience of supernatural regeneration, one discovers that there is something within that retards growth. This "thing" is known by different names such as indwelling sin, the "old man," carnality, sinfulness, etc. The best term, however, is found in Isaiah ~3:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way." Scriptural definitions eliminate many problems, and the Scriptural definition of this hindrance to growth is, as we have seen, "his own way" (sometimes referred to as "own-wayness," selfishness, selfness, or the self-life).

In justification, all past sins are forgiven. If a sin should occur after the experience of justification, it too can be confessed and forgiven. But this own-wayness, this selfness, this self-life can not be forgiven. It is a principle, a disposition to have one's own way, and therefore must end. Selfish acts can be forgiven, but basic selfishness has to end in crucifixion with Christ. The blood is God's remedy for sins; the Cross is God's remedy for the self-life. At the moment of salvation one is not too much concerned about the self-life, nor does one understand fully his own complex nature. He is mainly occupied with sin and the Savior. It was so with Israel, who was delivered from Egypt in crossing the Red Sea (generally considered a type of salvation). But at Sinai, though very confident of her ability to obey God in everything, Israel miserably failed Him, experiencing that which we call self-discovery. In other words, she discovered the corruption of her self-life.

We today also need this deeper conviction, this self-discovery, this self-exposure. We must acknowledge, confess, repent of, and renounce all ungodly and worldly lusts (desires). Jesus Christ laid the axe right at the root of our problem when He said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matt. 16:24). This verse speaks of more than forgiveness. Here Chris gives the remedy for own-way-ness or the self-life. The answer is the Cross. As we have just said, the blood of Christ solves the sin problem; the Cross of Christ solves the self problem.

Colonel Brengle tells of a girl who came to him with the question, "What is this sanctification that people are talking so much about?" For nearly a year she had so heard the experience testified to, and she understood the subject. Her question therefore surprised and almost discouraged him. But then he asked, "Have you a bad temper?"

"Oh yes," said she, "I have a temper like a volcano."

"Sanctification," he replied, "is to have that bad temper taken out." That definition set her thinking, it did her good. But it was too narrow, and Brengle therefore added, "If I had said, 'Sanctification is to have the temper and all sin taken away, as well as the heart filled with love to God and man,' it would have been a better definition of sanctification." Expression of anger in bad temper can be forgiven; something more, however, is needed to bring an end to the condition which caused this sin of anger. In order that the new life in Christ may have full expression in us, the salvation Christ provides delivers the soul from the power as well as the guilt of sin.

It has been said that the Christian's "new life" is God's life, only in a smaller measure. We quote: "A spark of fire is like fire. And again, the tiniest twig on the giant oak or the smallest branch on the vine has the nature of the oak or the vine. In this respect a branch is like the oak or the vine. Similarly, a drop of water from the ocean on the end of your finger is like the ocean - not in its size, of course (big ships cannot float upon it nor the big fishes swim in it), but it is like the ocean in its essence, its character, its nature. Just so, a sanctified person is like God - not that he is as infinite as God (he does not know everything; he has not all power and wisdom as God has), but he is like God in his nature... ; he is good, pure, loving, and just, in the same way that God is." The Bible says that he is a "partaker of the divine nature" (II Pet. 1:4). God's provision for constant victory is complete, but of course victory is dependent on our yieldedness and faith. A sanctified person, therefore, is like Jesus Christ, who was wholly given up to doing the Father's will, for He said, "I do always the things that are pleasing to him" (John 8:29).

As we said before, after the experience of supernatural regeneration, it would be normal and natural for a Christian to grow constantly if it were not for "that thing" which retards growth. Therefore, besides forgiveness, one must be cleansed from all sin. One's own-way-ness, spoken of by Isaiah, must be crucified. Self must be dethroned and committed to the Cross, and Christ must be enthroned. Moreover, a Christian must be filled with the Holy Spirit for an inner life of victory, and must be clothed with the Holy Spirit for power for service.

Sanctification, therefore, when we think of it in the narrower sense, has two sides: the negative and the positive. The negative side of our sanctification is that deep inner work of the blood and the Cross which cleanses and delivers from the power of sin; it is the cleansing from sin and the crucifixion of the self-life. The positive side of our sanctification is the baptism with the Holy Spirit when one is both filled with the Holy Spirit and clothed with power from on high. Instead of the works of the flesh will be substituted the fruit of the Spirit - "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22, 23). The result of the positive side of our sanctification is power for holy, victorious living and for fruitful service. "John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:5, 8, A.V.).

 2006/8/13 14:26

Joined: 2006/7/15
Posts: 153
Geneva, Alabama

 Re: WHAT IS Sanctification? Pastor T. A. Hegre

Even with a genuine experience of supernatural regeneration, one discovers that there is something within that retards growth. This "thing" is known by different names such as indwelling sin, the "old man," carnality, sinfulness, etc. The best term, however, is found in Isaiah ~3:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way." Scriptural definitions eliminate many problems, and the Scriptural definition of this hindrance to growth is, as we have seen, "his own way" (sometimes referred to as "own-wayness," selfishness, selfness, or the self-life).

This Scriptural definition of hindrance to growth, "his own way" is also the Scriptural definition of "wickedness" which hinders not only sanctification but also revival.

It is the wickedness of doing things our own way that needs to be turned from if revival is to come. Churches doing things their own way instead of God's way - Christians doing things their own way instead of God's way - and if churches and Christians would turn from their wicked ways, turn from doing things their own way, then, the ways of the Lord would be known on earth, and His salvation among all nations (see Psalm 67:2).

Thanks for the article.
Grace and peace

Olan Strickland

 2006/8/15 13:07Profile

 Re: WHAT IS Sanctification? Pastor T. A. Hegre

In the broad sense, sanctification includes all Christian experience from justification to glorification, beginning with the new birth and continuing in the Christian life until we meet the Lord face to face.

Yes. One has to believe this, at least. But, we are sanctified through our initial setting ourselves apart unto Him only.

a genuine experience of [b]supernatural[/b] regeneration, one discovers that there is something within that retards growth. This "thing" is known by different names such as indwelling sin, the "old man," carnality, sinfulness,

Really, there is no such thing as supernatural regeneration. Regeneration is the work of God which creates in us the power to grow into His likeness - the indwelling Holy Spirit. This restores to us the nature God intends - His nature. In that sense, regeneration might better be described as [u]intra-natural[/u]. At least this would convey the need for God work inside a man's heart and life, mind and body - whole soul. 'Super', is always something laid over the outside. This, perhaps, is why so many Christians if they are happy to use the word 'supernatural', are also unprepared for a change of heart, by what preaching has promised them.

I believe that if God had not dealt with sin ('our old man') - our sins too - to [i][b]His[/b][/i] satisfaction, it would be impossible for the Holy Spirit to dwell with us. This is where faith comes in - not only [i]our[/i] faith, but [i]God's[/i] faith in His own work and ability to transform a person into His likeness. We have to rest in faith that He is working for our good, while we strive not to carry on living the way we did before new birth ....... the Holy Spirit enabling us to cease from sin(s).

At the moment of salvation one is not too much concerned about the self-life, nor does one understand fully his own complex nature. He is mainly occupied with sin and the Savior.

One may not understand exactly what comes next, but that's no reason for the whole truth - the whole counsel of God - not to be preached as part of the original gospel presentation.

(KJV) Luke 14:28
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold begin to mock him,

30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

 2006/8/16 12:12





In Chapter 1 we stated that in the broad sense sanctification includes the entire Christian experience from regeneration to glorification. However, the word sanctification is also used in a narrower sense to describe a crisis experience of heart-cleansing - that is, the dethronement of self, the enthronement of Christ, and the baptism and filling with the Holy Spirit.

The experience of sanctification is so tremendously important both to God and to us that each person of the Trinity is vitally concerned and has an official and distinctly personal part to perform in the realization of this work of grace in our lives. For that reason it is important to understand and cooperate with the work and blessing of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The word sanctification is often defined in a threefold way: (1) "to dedicate" (2) "to set aside for holy uses" (3) "to make holy." All of this is God's perfect plan and provision for a life of inner victory and power for service. This triple character of our sanctification - each person of the Trinity performing a specific and definite work in this, God's great recovery program - explains why certain believers are called sanctified in Scripture while at the same time they give evidence that there is something lacking in their experience. For instance, in the first chapter of First Corinthians, the believers in Corinth are spoken of as sanctified; yet in the third chapter, the Apostle Paul calls them carnal. That they are genuinely converted is evident, for he designates them as "babes in Christ" (3:1). Therefore they were sanctified in the sense of being "dedicated to God," "set aside for holy uses." Righteousness had been imputed but not yet imparted. They had not yet been "made holy." They had a positional holiness, but it had not yet become practical in their everyday life and walk. They were not entirely sanctified.

The fact that sanctification is ascribed to each of the three persons of the Trinity is seen from the following verses of Scripture.

Sanctified through God the Father

"Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father. . ." (Jude 1, A.V.).

"The God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 5:23).

Sanctified through God the Son

"Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered without the gate" (Heb. 13:12).

"By one offering he bath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Heb. 10:14).

"Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25 - 27).

Sanctified through God the Holy Spirit

"According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit . . ." (I Pet. 1:2).

"But ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God" (I Cor. 6:11).

"We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" (II Thess. 2:13).

". . .that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:16).

Our study is first to find out the specific work in our sanctification which each person of the Trinity performs and then to learn how to cooperate, that is, how to receive the blessing that is offered. We shall begin with "sanctified by God the Father. . ." (Jude 1:1, AN.). What distinctive work does our heavenly Father perform in our sanctification? First of all, we see in I Thessalonians 4:3 that He calls us to this wonderful experience: "This is the will of God, even your sanctification." We know, therefore, it is His will, His desire, that we be sanctified.

In Ephesians 2:10 we read that God has a definite plan for every one of us: "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them." We must be willing not only to accept that plan, but we must "enter into it" by faith. This is consecration. In Proverbs 23:96 God says, "My son, give me thy heart." Here He is not talking to the unregenerate (He never calls one not born from above "My son"). He is talking to one who has been genuinely born of God. He is talking to a son, and He is saying that He wants the entire heart of every child of His. According to these two verses, then, God the Father is calling us to sanctification, to full surrender, and to full consecration to a wholehearted "yes" to our heavenly Father's will in every particular.

However, in our conversion experience we are not very conscious of the need of sanctification. It is after conversion, after genuine justification and regeneration, that we begin to realize the true meaning of the claims of God. A child of God soon discovers also that he is not wholly surrendered, that he is not wholly consecrated. We ought to bear in mind concerning the words surrender and consecration that strictly speaking there is a distinction in the meaning of these two words. Surrender is giving up; it is yielding; it is waving a white flag. But consecration is more than that. Consecration is not only yielding wholly to God in the sense of giving up going one's own way, but it is also gladly embracing the whole will of God. In army terms, consecration would mean not only waving the white flag and ending the battle, but would also include gladly changing sides and living and fighting for the conqueror. Consecration is really the highest type of surrender.

In his conversion experience, the believer already made adjustments to all known sin and to all the known will of God. Later, however, he received more light and discovered that he must take another step - complete consecration, even of possessions, privileges, position, ambitions, attitudes, opinions, persons, pleasures, places, of absolutely everything, including his own will in its entirety.

Can we know that we are fully consecrated to God? Yes, not only can we know but we must know. If we do not know that we are wholly yielded to God, it is a sign we have not wholly surrendered. We often hear it said, "I am surrendered as far as I know." That statement is a dead giveaway. When we are wholly surrendered and wholly consecrated to God, we know it. The heavenly Father not only calls us to such a total consecration, but when it is complete, He receives us to himself in a new way and gives us the assurance that the issue is now a settled matter. Of course He cannot witness to this experience before it takes place; therefore, many today may be genuinely converted but they have no assurance of being wholly yielded to God. They have never heard the sweet witness of God's assurance that their surrender is accepted, that their consecration is complete.

In the eighteenth chapter of Jeremiah's prophecy, there is an illustration of a potter and the clay. Jeremiah says,

"I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he was making a work on the wheels. And when the vessel that he made of the clay was marred in the hand of the potter, he made it again another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make it."

Apparently Jeremiah's potter had no difficulty at all in the initial forming of a vessel according to his own plan. Even when the vessel had to be remade, the potter had no difficulty, for in clay there is no opposing will. It may sometimes be too soft or too hard to work; or sometimes it may even contain a hidden stone. But an earthly potter knows just what to do, and is never hindered - either in his original or remedial plan.

In human experience these same conditions of softness and hardness are common, so the heavenly Potter continues to work with the clay. Yet, if the will is not yielded, it is impossible for Him to make this human clay "meet for the Master's use." Once the will is yielded, then He is able to remove hidden stones of secret sin and, through batting and kneading, get human clay to the right consistency. If there is nothing to hinder, He can make us exactly what He wants us to be.

Consecration to God, then, is not to be passive. It is not enough just to surrender. We must actively exercise faith, and in obedience to God's wonderful Word, cooperate with our heavenly Father. We must also believe He receives the surrender. Then God is able to make, and mold, and conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.

Here, then, is the first step in sanctification - ful' consecration to the heavenly Father's will - so complete a consecration that God can witness to it, and we our selves can receive wonderful assurance that we are wholly His in a new way. Andrew Murray said "God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him." This is the beginning work of our sanctification. Remember, God wants us to be entirely sanctified. The important thing to see is that in this part of our sanctification it is not only Father's calling us to full consecration, but His receiving our consecration and giving us assurance that this wonderful possibility has become a reality.

Perhaps a personal testimony will help someone to understand this aspect of our subject - the beginnings of sanctification. After the writer's conversion at the age of twenty or twenty-one, he was an earnest Christian. He took very seriously his new relationship to God and his new responsibility as a child of God; consequently he became a member of most boards and organizations of his church. Because he was very serious and sincere, he was able outwardly to live an exemplary Christian life. However, he himself knew that everything was not well inside. He knew that though he had peace with God through Christ, and though he had assurance of salvation, he did not always have harmony in his heart. Many times there was a conflict within. Romans 7 perhaps would be the best description of his condition: "Not what I would, that do I practice; but what I hate, that I do" (vs. 15).

One night at a church prayer meeting, two choruses were sung - one, "Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before" and the other, "I am satisfied with Jesus." The writer started singing, but because his heart was honest, he had to cease, for these statements simply were not true in his own experience. It would not be right, he thought, to sing or to say what was a lie. Then he seemed to remember that often at prayer meetings, testimonies were given; so he thought to himself, "Well, I'll give a testimony, but I'll tell the truth. I will testify to my salvation, but will conies too, that I do not have perfect peace and harmony in my soul. Usually I have obeyed God eventually, but often there has been an argument with Him first. have made proper adjustments from time to time, but even so, there still has been conflict within - sometime more, sometimes less. Even now, at the proper provocation conflict can and does arise. I have self control and restraint enough to conceal this, but it I there nevertheless. The whole outward life is regulated, but the inner life is not." But then after thinking about testifying, the writer decided not to give his inner thoughts in testimony, lest he upset some whom he had influenced for the Lord.

After prayer meeting he went to the man whom he considered the most spiritual in the church, told him his inner thoughts about singing the two choruses and ended by saying, "Jesus is not sweeter than the day before, for He was sweeter to me two or three years ago than He is now. I just am not satisfied with Jesus, and I know He is not satisfied with me. What shall I do?" This dear Christian hung his head for a moment, and then said, "I don't know what you should do. I'm not satisfied myself." Utterly disappointed, the writer left his friend and went home. He was alone in the house and so went right to the Lord and prayed something like this: "I am not satisfied. There must be more to the Christian life than I have. God, You are holding out on me. You mus reveal to me what I need. Must man wait for the grave to deliver?"

Then it seemed the Lord led him to read a book entitled Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. (Somehow he knew his problem was on the line of surrender.) He read on until he came to the place where Mr. Murray made a suggestion something like this: "Get down on your knees before God and surrender all you are and have and ever will have - and your own will besides." The writer knew this was not the whole answer, for he had already tried to make such a surrender several times. At best it had lasted only a few days or at the most a week or so. Therefore he argued both with God and with Andrew Murray (though Andrew Murray, as you know, had long since left this earth for a better place). Then he read on and saw in the lines something like this: "Get up from your knees believing God has received your surrender." Here was something new. Here was something he had never seen before. Here was the other side of the surrender experience. He had often heard ministers and others encouraging people to surrender wholly to God; but never had he heard anyone give this other side - namely, when one surrenders, God receives; and if God receives, He will assume full responsibility for the life.

And so, that very night the writer yielded wholly to God, believed God received his surrender, and then jumped to his feet and praised the Lord for the deliverance and the assurance that had come into his heart. For six months he almost walked on air. He knew God had done a real work of grace in his heart - giving peace, harmony, rest, wonderful answers to prayer, and blessings in many ways. Lat on he discovered other needs, which will be discuss in the next chapters.

 2006/8/16 18:02

Joined: 2006/5/11
Posts: 19
Mexico City


:-) I just got my hands on this book by Ted Hegre, "Freedom from the Power of sin" which this chapter is contained....great book by the way! There are so many similarities between his, Tozers and Ravenhills view on sanctification I was amazed. Just thought Id share...

James Olson

 2006/8/27 22:42Profile

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