There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the issue of sanctification; but it has been my experience that there are only two camps surrounding the subject. The first of course being a progressive sanctification whereby the believer is set apart incrementally by the things he or she does or does not do in regards to either pleasing or angering the Father. The second approach or belief is the past tense or finished view which I believe is the only valid conclusion in regards to our sanctification.
I think one of the biggest challenges one faces in this matter is the fact that the word sanctification has more than one definition in the bible. For instance, I Cor. 1:30, 31 states the following: ‘But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and, redemption – that, as it is written, he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ Notice in this verse the words wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption are all listed in the past tense; and are of Christ, whom the believer is in! In other words, the definition of sanctification in this passage denotes a finished work, not a progressive one.
There are other verses however, that speak of sanctification as being something other than set apart in Christ for salvation. For instance, I Cor. 7:14 states that an unbelieving spouse will be sanctified by the believing spouse; which simply means that the unbelieving person will at least superficially experience God’s presence in their believing spouse through hearing the word; thus being set apart by at least hearing truth. There are of course many more examples of the word sanctification being used in different ways; but for the believer it always designates one condition, which is salvation. The final finished work of being made alive in Christ eternally; and thus set apart to God.
The legalist sets himself apart in an attempt to be holy by what he does or does not do. The New Covenant believer rests in the One who has set him apart and made him holy! The former stands in his own righteousness, the latter in Christ! What does sanctification mean to you?
George L. Miller