The Church at Corinth and Wisdom: Part 6 of 7 (series: Lessons on 1 Co.)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

and sanctification,

Sanctify is a significant word in Christian theology. In order to gain a full understanding of Sanctification, we will look at three areas:
1. “Sanctify” in the OT
2. The Greek words and their meaning
3. “Sanctify” in the NT

OT—1. Sanctify in the OT. Where the word sanctifies occurs, it is from the Hebrew word “qadas”, which means “to set apart as holy.” In the OT the context in which this word is used is primarily associated with persons or objects set apart for service to God, and by this dedication, completely separated from common uses. (See Holy/Holiness)

NT—2. The Greek words and their meaning. “Sanctify” and “sanctification” are translations from the same Greek words—hagiazo (“to make holy” or “to sanctify”) and hagiasmos (“sanctification” or “holiness”). Thus, the concepts of sanctification and holiness are related (sometimes identical) and should be studied in connection with each other.

A basic distinction must be made between the OT and NT concepts of holiness. In the OT, the holy is that which is taken from the common and set apart for God’s use/service. In the NT, holiness is a dynamic process. The holy is actually the common, infused now by God’s Spirit and transformed for his service. Thus, our sanctification has to do with God’s transformation of us into persons whose actions in daily life model Jesus’ life and teaching.

3. “Sanctify” in the NT. What do we learn when we study the texts where “sanctify” and “sanctification” are found in the NT? Compare the following verses:
• John 17.17, 19 is Jesus prayer for the sanctification of believers: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth…And for their sakes, I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified {truly sanctified} through the truth.” Sanctify means to set apart. The believer is not of the world; he is set apart. The thought has reference to the task rather than the person; it is a commitment to the task. The believer is set apart by the Word of God. That is, the Word reveals the mind of God. As you read the Word, you are led to set yourself apart for a particular ministry. We can serve Him only as we know His Word and are obedient to it. The goal of sanctification is that believers will be prepared to be sent into the world as Jesus was sent, to glorify God by doing his work.
• Romans 15.16 is different since the sanctifying agent is the Holy Spirit: “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Spirit indwelt the Gentile believers, beginning with Cornelius. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit begins with Jew and Gentile at the moment of regeneration, when the Spirit of God takes up His abode within the believer. There are other passages where sanctification is spoken of as being part of every believer’s experience: Acts 20.32, 26.18; 1 Corinthians 1.2, 6.11.

In 1 Thessalonians 5.23, we have Paul’s desire that God sanctify believers “through and through”, and God is again seen as the agent of sanctification: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Man is a triune being; body, soul (mind), and spirit. “Sanctify you wholly”—not perfectly, but we are to reach a place of maturation. We should not continue to be babes in Christ; we should be growing to maturity.

Finally, in ①Hebrews 10.29, the writer argues that the blood of Jesus sanctifies within; whereas, all that the OT sacrifices could accomplish was an outward, ritual sanctification, ②Hebrews 9.13.

① Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? This is probably the most solemn statement in the Word of God. “Wherewith he was sanctified” refers to Christ, the Son of God. They crucified “to themselves the Son of God afresh” (Heb. 6:6). To act as if the death of Christ is inadequate to settle the sin question, and to go on as if He had not died, is to treat the blood of Christ as something you despise. Knowledge creates responsibility. If, after you have heard the gospel, you turn your back on Jesus Christ—my friend, someone ought to tell you that you are going to hell! This is not what I say; it is what God says.

②For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the

flesh. “And the ashes of an heifer” is a reference to the ordinance of the red heifer in Numbers 19. The heifer was burned completely and its ashes kept in a clean place. When a man became ceremonially defiled (primarily by touching a dead body), the priest would take the ashes, mingle them with water, and sprinkle the offender. This served to ceremonially purify him so that he could be restored to fellowship. I would like to have you notice that here the heifer has a particular symbolism. A female, instead of a bull, is used. We are told in 1 Peter 3:7 that the female is the weaker vessel. Our defilement actually comes through our weakness. We are weak, and Christ came down and experienced physically, in the flesh, our weakness.

We are told also that a red heifer was used. The red, I think, speaks of the fact that Christ became sin for us—not in some academic way, but He actually became sin for us. How do we know that red is the color of sin! Isaiah said, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18, italics mine). So it must be a red heifer, speaking of the fact that He became sin for us.

The animal must also be without blemish. It certainly could not represent Christ unless it was perfect. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.

The red heifer must be an animal upon which a yoke had never been put. This symbolizes the fact that although Christ was made sin for us, He was never under the bondage of sin.

The heifer was to be led outside the camp and there slain before the high priest. In this we have pictured that the Lord Jesus is both the offering and the High Priest—He offered Himself.

The blood of the offering was to be sprinkled by the high priest before the tabernacle seven times. Many people think that seven is the number of perfection in Scripture. That is only indirectly true; the primary meaning is completeness. It speaks here of the fact that Christ’s sacrifice is a finished transaction—one sacrifice takes care of the sin of the believer.
The carcass of the heifer was to be burned—again in the sight of the high priest. You see, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Jesus freely gave Himself, but we probably have never thought of the sorrow that was in heaven the day He died.

Numbers also tells us that cedar and hyssop were to be put with the sacrifice. This is rather suggestive to me. First Kings 4:33 says, “And he Solomon spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall….” Solomon ran the gamut of trees and plant life; he was a dendrologist and knew the entire field. I think this is what Isaac Watts meant by “the whole realm of nature.” Therefore I believe this speaks of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ not only redeemed mankind, but He has redeemed this world. We live in a world that is cursed by sin; it is now groaning and travailing in pain, but it is to be delivered. Someday it is to be redeemed, and sin is to be removed. Christ’s sacrifice was adequate and it was complete. It was a finished transaction that covered all of God’s creation which has been touched by sin.
The ashes of the heifer were to be kept in a clean place and then mixed with water when they were used. I think that the water speaks of the Word of God. It is the Word of God which reveals sin in the life of the believer. But, we need to understand that the sacrifices, and ceremonies associated with them, were never intended to sanctify or save the OT saints; they were acts of obedience and worship; but sanctification requires that a person is first saved by faith. Their salvation could not be complete until Christ died for their sins. The sacrifice of Christ provided redemption for the future—for your redemption and my redemption. It also provided redemption for the sins of those in the Old Testament. The Old Testament saints were saved by faith—Abraham was saved by faith. How? He believed God and brought a lamb. Was that lamb adequate? No; it prefigured Christ. The sacrifice of Christ looks forward and it looks backward.

From these passages, it is clear that God sanctifies believers and that the blood of Christ provides the basis for this. Divine sanctification is effected by the Holy Spirit, and the word of God is an active agent in the process.

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