What does the Bible mean when it calls something sanctified?
When the Bible calls an object, location, or person sanctified, it means it is set apart for God. There are many examples in Scripture, such as Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:23), gifts for the temple (Matthew 23:17), the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8), God's name (Matthew 6:9), the Israelites themselves (Leviticus 20:7–8), and Christians (Ephesians 5:26).
God designates these items, people, places, and things as set apart for His use. The temple was set apart for worship, Mt. Sinai for God to give the Law. Sanctified items are chosen by God (2 Chronicles 7:16) and they are not meant to be used by others or for less than holy tasks (Daniel 5).
Jesus declared Himself to be sanctified (John 17:19) and Peter wrote that Jesus' followers were also set apart, from sin and for God's use (1 Peter 1:16).
God calls those who are sanctified by Him as part of His family. "For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers" (Hebrews 2:11).
Sanctified people understand that God has been, is, and will be at work in their lives. In the Old Testament, those who were sanctified were required to make things right with God by offering sacrifices (Hebrews 9:22). Blood was applied to temple furniture, priest's clothing, and even on the people. Blood was critical, necessary, for sanctification. That same necessity is true for Christians—blood is required (1 Peter 1:2). However, it is the blood of Jesus, not a sacrificial animal, that makes sanctification possible, makes us available for use, set apart for God (1 Corinthians 6:19).
God continues to make us holy (sanctified) by His Word (Ephesians 5:26; John 17:17) and through His Spirit (1 Peter 1:2). Those who are not sanctified, sometimes labeled sinners, are invited to be sanctified through Jesus by believing in His sacrificial death on the cross, His defeat over death and sin by His resurrection, and His continued activity in our lives to transform us into His image.
We can pray, as Paul did for Christians, "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
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