Christmas is just around the corner! Crossway+ members can receive 50% off hundreds of books and Bibles in our 2022 Christmas Gift Guide through 12/25.

A Simple Way to Think about Sanctification

The 2 Dimensions of Sanctification

The word sanctification is a five-syllable abstraction for the very human process of growing up and simply being and becoming human. When we think about how flourishing humanness is described in Scripture, it operates in two dimensions. One is that we learn how to walk with our Savior. A shorthand of this would be that we become increasingly childlike toward our Father whom we trust.

Then there's a horizontal dimension, that we become increasingly like our Savior. In a whole variety of ways—how we talk with people, what our priorities are, what choices we make, how we approach money, relationships, and decision making—we actually become helpful to others.

I like that shorthand: childlike toward our Father and helpful toward other people.

The 3 Tenses of Sanctification

One word of clarification that's helpful in defining sanctification is that it actually has a past tense, a present tense, and a future tense.

The Bible uses the word sanctification most often in the past tense: it says that you are a saint, that you have been made holy.

On the last day when the battle is done and the race is run and we see him face to face, then we will be like him.

The present tense refers to our becoming holy, becoming childlike, becoming helpful—becoming both wiser in walking with and more conformed to the image of our Jesus.

And then sanctification has a future tense. On the last day when the battle is done and the race is run and we see him face to face, then we will be like him.



Related Resources


Crossway is a not-for-profit Christian ministry that exists solely for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel through publishing gospel-centered, Bible-centered content. Learn more or donate today at crossway.org/about.