Paul Moldovan asked me some questions about the meaning of sanctification for his blog, and this prompted me to think about the subject.
My answer about the meaning of “sanctification” starts like this:
I might prefer the translation “consecrate,” since there is less theological-historical baggage attached. The term means “set apart” for ritual purposes; in biblical usage this especially means set apart from what is profane for exclusively holy use. By Christ’s sacrificial death for us, God has consecrated us, or set us apart, as “saints” (literally, “the consecrated ones”) for his exclusive use. We belong to him. Now, what are the implications of this? If we are “saints” in Christ—i.e., those consecrated to Christ—we ought to live wholly for his purposes, not for our own or others.
Paul uses the Greek term arrhabôn, a term used in business documents for a downpayment, to describe the gift of the Spirit as a foretaste of our future inheritance (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:13-14). The Spirit is also the aparchê, the first fruits of our future experience with God (Rom 8:23). Through the Spirit, we await full vindication (Gal 5:5) and experience a foretaste of the coming world (1 Cor 2:9-10).
Scripture speaks of what we call “inward leadings” in various places, in various ways. The expression “led by the Spirit” in context refers especially to God guiding us in living in his way, but the idea of how the Spirit guides us can apply also to divine comfort, direction, urging for evangelism, etc.
Luke’s Gospel begins and ends in Jerusalem. His sequel, the Book of Acts, begins in Jerusalem but ends in Rome. Theologically, this is movement from heritage to mission: holding on to the heritage but moving forward into mission. In the same way, we need to be grounded in the Scriptures, so our action will be consistent with all that God has done before us, yet also moved by the Spirit, so we can reach those parts of humanity not yet reached.