The Hebrew word translated as to sanctify is
This root word means to make, to observe as or to pronounce
something ceremonially or morally clean.
Something that was not morally or ceremonially clean becomes
morally clean when someone makes a public pronouncement, some
sort of dedication or by simply treating it that way.
Biblically, this word describes the process whereby we
separate from the world and set aside something or somebody for
When God wants to reveal himself, he does so by using people
who are set apart for his purposes. He also uses special days,
sacrifices, sanctuaries and their utensils in order to reveal
himself through their use.
Sanctification is the process used to prepare these things for
the purpose God has for them.
There are four methods used for sanctification
- God sanctifies it himself.
- God commands someone to sanctify it for his use.
- The people sanctify it so that they can use it for
- People sanctify themselves in order to follow after God.
In all four cases, a special event or ceremony marks the
It appears that man cannot sanctify something unless God has
sanctified it first, or gives his permission to have someone
sanctify it for Him. In other words, Sanctification evolves from
the presence and permission of God.
Sanctification first occurs during the creation week.
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it:
because in it he had rested from all his work that God
created and made (Gen. 2:3).
In this case, sanctification occurs through the blessing,
resting and presence of God.
Speaking of the tabernacle, God says
The door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the
LORD is where I will meet you, to speak to you there. I will
meet with the children of Israel there. I shall sanctify it
with my glory. I will sanctify the tabernacle of the
congregation, and the altar: I will also sanctify both Aaron
and his sons, to minister to me in the priests office (Ex.
Elsewhere I have defined glory this way. Kabowd is used
of the honour and reputation that you receive from other people.
As more people give you that this sort of respect, the heavier
this mantle of glory becomes. God uses this glory cloud to
God in and of himself is morally and ceremonially clean.
He reveals this purity through the appearance of his glory
cloud. As a result, the presence of God sanctifies everything
that is in his presence, everything that God touches with his
Notice what it says in Exodus.
God meets the children of Israel at the door of the
tabernacle. Because his glory is there, he sanctifies the
tabernacle of the congregation, the altar, as well as Aaron and
God sanctifies everything that is in his presence, and
everybody who enters into his presence by means of the glory that
This can be of great relief to any person who feels that they
are unworthy to enter into an intimate relationship with God. How
you feel about yourself, or how you think God feels about you,
has nothing to do with it.
Rather, as you approach God, it is His presence, His glory,
that God uses to separate you from the world and set you aside
for His purposes.
- God sanctifies the Sabbath because God rests in it and
- God sanctifies the tabernacle because God came down and
met Israel at its door.
- In the New Testament God sanctifies Christians because
God dwells in them.
God commands sanctification
The second method of sanctification is when God asks someone
to set something aside for his use.
Sanctify unto me all the firstborn; whatsoever opens the
womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast.
It is mine (Exodus 13:2).
God asked Moses to set aside all the children spared during
the first Passover. Some time later, God exchanged these children
for the entire tribe of Levi.
|All that were numbered of the Levites,
which Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the
LORD, throughout their families, all the males from a
month old and upward, were 22,000.
The LORD said to Moses, Number all the firstborn of the
males of the children of Israel from a month old and
upward, and take the number of their names. You shall
take the Levites for me (I am the LORD) instead of all
the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the
cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among
the cattle of the children of Israel.
Moses numbered all the firstborn among the children of
Israel as the LORD commanded him. All the firstborn males
by the number of names, from a month old and upward, of
those that were numbered were 22,273
Although God commanded Moses to sanctify the firstborn of
Israel, the following passage makes it clear that God sanctified
them for himself. Moses was simply acting on Gods behalf.
Something else of interest here is that Gods
sanctification is permanent, for all time. Israel exchanged the
firstborn of Israel for the Levites and gave them to God as an
offering. Consequently, the Levites belong to God for all time.
Sanctification is permanent.
Thus shall you separate the Levites from among the
children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine. After that
shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle
of the congregation: and you shall cleanse them, and offer
them for an offering. For they are wholly given to me from
among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every
womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of
Israel, have I taken them unto me. For all the firstborn of
the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the
day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt, I
sanctified them for myself (Numbers 8:14-17).
The third method of sanctification is when people sanctify
something to set it aside for Gods purposes.
- Moses sanctified the people to protect them from the
presence of God (Exodus 19:14).
- Priests sanctified the offerings given at the tabernacle
(Exodus 29:27, 36, 37).
- Priests sanctified the utensils and furniture of the
tabernacle as well as the priests who ministered there (Exodus
40:10, 11, 13).
Anointing with oil was the usual method used to sanctify both
people and things used in Gods service. This speaks of the
presence of God, and is a sign that all sanctification flows from
When people were sanctified, an offering was made as well (Hebrews
Throughout the Old Testament there is a common thread asking
various people to sanctify themselves.
Joshua said unto the people, sanctify yourselves: tomorrow the
LORD will do wonders among you (Joshua 3:5).
He said, Shalom: I have come to sacrifice to the LORD:
sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. Then
he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the
sacrifice (1 Samuel 16:5).
The law required that the people prepare themselves in order
to enter the presence of God.
The New Testament never mentions the need for Christians to
sanctify themselves. Instead, The New Testament constantly
reminds us that Christians are already sanctified.
|1 Corinthians 1:2
||Unto the church of God which is at
Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus,
called to be saints, with all that in every place call
upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and
||Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and
brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the
Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy
to you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
We are sanctified because of what Jesus Christ did for us
||Wherefore Jesus also, that he might
sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside
||For if the blood of bulls and of goats,
and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean,
sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: How much more
shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit
offered himself without spot to God, purge your
conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
||Then Jesus said, Behold, I come to
do your will, O God... Through his will, we are
sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus
Christ once for all.
God sanctifies everyone in his presence. The Holy Spirit seals
Christians unto the day of redemption. That presence sanctifies
all Christians. That is why the Bible calls Christians saints, or
sanctified ones. Since the presence of God sanctifies us,
Christians never have to sanctify themselves. God has already
Sanctification revealed through the names of God
Sanctification flows from the presence of God. Wherever God
is, there is the sanctification of God. The following names of
God reveal where he makes himself known through his sanctifying
|I am the LORD your God, who sanctifies
|I am the LORD, who sanctifies my
|I am the LORD, who sanctifies my
ministry and those who perform it
|I am the LORD, who sanctifies your
|I am the LORD, who sanctifies myself in
|The LORD of hosts shall be exalted in
judgment, and God, who is holy, shall be sanctified in
|I am the LORD, who sanctifies my people
through my Sabbaths
|I am the LORD, who will sanctify my
|I am the LORD, who sanctifies my people
through the sanctuary
|The God of peace himself shall sanctify
||1 Thessalonians 5:2
- God is pure
- God surrounds himself with his glory
- The glory of God brings sanctification
- God sanctifies everything in his presence as revealed by
the glory cloud
- All sanctification evolves from the presence of God
- We can only sanctify as directed by God
- Sanctification is permanent
- The permanent presence of God sanctifies all Christians
- We can find other places where God dwells with his
sanctifying presence as revealed by the names of God
The reference material used here can be found at the "on
line bible" site.