Paul's Passing Thoughts

TANC 2014 Andy Young, Session 2: Understanding Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on November 14, 2014

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Sanctification in the Old Testament

Ok, welcome back. This is session 2 on the topic Understanding Sanctification. We’ve got a lot to cover and I want to make sure I leave time at the end for questions of discussion. So let’s take a minute or two just to review where we’ve been so far. We have begun this study on Sanctification by first defining some terms We did that in session 1. This is going to be the premise from which we will develop the rest of our study on this topic.

There were two terms we defined. and they are words we’re familiar with, but it seems as believers we have a hard time really nailing down an understanding of those words. Organized religion has taught us, orthodoxy has taught us what we are supposed to think about these words, and we sort of define it in those terms and supposedly live our lives accordingly. And as such, Christians become lazy and fail to compare those terms against what scripture says. How the Bible uses those terms. Because usage determines meaning. We don’t want to come up with a meaning that suits us and then force that meaning upon a word when it appears in scripture and say, look see, it says right here…So what we did last session was take these two terms, look at how they were used in scripture, and from the usage attempt to construct a definition. So I’ll put these up again. Here are the two terms we defined.

Holy – a place or thing which is distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.

Sanctification – the process of cleansing for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else; or the purpose of making something holy.

So we have our foundation, now let’s build on that.  We ended the last session with this idea of the relationship between Sanctification and cleansing, so we’re going to develop that a little bit more, this idea of cleansing.  So to start with, since this is a session on Sanctification, let’s take a closer look at this word and see how it’s used.

Sanctification – Sanctify – verb form – to cleanse for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary or just like everything else.

The command to sanctify occurs 103 times in the Old Testament.

49 Times in the Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy)

32 Times in the books of History (Joshua – Esther)

Once in the books of Wisdom/Poetry (Job – Song of Solomon)

19 times in the major prophets (Isaiah – Daniel)

Twice in the minor prophets (Hosea – Malachi)

Majority of the usage of the command to sanctify appears in the Law.

Let’s consider this by breaking it down a little further.

Who sanctifies?  (who is to perform the sanctifying?)

God – Exodus 31:13

“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.”

So God does sanctification.  But notice also, that man sanctifies as well.


Moses – Exodus 19:10

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes”

People – Leviticus 20:7

“Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.”

Notice in that verse we see the relationship that we talked about last session, you can see the purpose of sanctification is to make something holy.

So there is the who.  The next question we could ask is, what?

What is to be sanctified?

Days – Genesis 2:3

“And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

We even looked at the 4th commanment in the last session.  The reason the Sabbath was holy was because God had sanctified it, He had cleansed it.

People – Exodus 19:10

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes”

Priests – Exodus 19:22

“And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.”

Offerings – Exodus 29:27

“And thou shalt sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the shoulder of the heave offering, which is waved, and which is heaved up, of the ram of the consecration, even of that which is for Aaron, and of that which is for his sons:”

Tabernacle – Exodus 29:44

“And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.”

How is something sanctified?

By anointing

If you have your Bibles, go ahead and turn to Exodus 30.  God gave Moses the recipe for a special anointing oil, Exodus 30:22-33:

22Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23‘Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, 24and of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: 25and thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. 26And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, 27and the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, 28and the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. 29And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. 30And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate [kaw-dash – “sanctify”] them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. 31And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations. 32Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. 33Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.”

Now, I have you read all of that, but the relevant part of this is the anointing oil, made after the art of the apothecary, those are the people skilled in the art of making perfume.  So this anointing oil is actually a very sweet-smelling perfume.  You’ve been around someone who’d put on too much perfume, right?  You can smell them coming before they even enter the room.  In fact, if you close your eyes, and that person walks into the room, you can tell they are there because you can smell their perfume or cologne.  And for some people, their perfume is Ben-gay.  Right?  Or Old Spice.  English Leather.  That was what my Dad always used.  I loved that smell, cause it was my Dad.  But you identify them by the smell of their perfume.

The items that were anointed with this oil were made holy.  They were made distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.  How did you know they were distinct, because they had the smell of this oil on them.  And this oil was not to be used for anything else.  So even the oil was holy because it was distinct, so anything anointed with this oil was holy because it had this distinct smell, and you could identify it, and you knew, those items were distinct from everything else.

Not only that, you couldn’t take this oil and copy the recipe and make a bottle of perfume to give to your wife to use.  It was forbidden.  The oil was reserved for only specific things.  If other people used it for other purposes, then it would no longer be distinct would it?

Something else about anointing oil.  Certain oils themselves had special properties.  What else were oils used for?  The apothecary was the art of making perfume, but from this art form came the study of medicines.  Pharmaceuticals.  Pharmaceuticals had their origins in the apothecary, and some oils were used for medicinal purposes.  Most often oils were put on wounds, get this, to cleanse them and prevent infection so that they would heal faster.

So the use of this anointing oil sanctifies because of its cleansing or healing properties and because of the distinctiveness of the smell.  It identifies.  So we have sanctification by anointing.

The other method of Sanctification is by washing, and this concept of washing is where I want to focus because this is a theme that is repeated over and over in scripture, as we’ll see.

By washing, Exodus 19:10:

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,…”

And we could look up dozens of other verses where the people are told to wash.  They washed themselves, their clothes, their houses, their children, their animals.  There were requirements for washing before going to the tabernacle, before offering sacrifices, after handling dead animals, after a woman’s menstrual cycle, after illnesses – especially leprosy, after childbirth, before meals, after sexual relations.  The people of Israel were a clean nation.  God wanted His children to be clean.  Now of course, there were obviously hygienic benefits to all of this.  If you are conscientious about keeping clean, the less likely you are to get sick.  You’ll be healthier.

So God provided a means for His people to stay strong and robust.  He implemented these very strict guidelines for washing.  But it wasn’t all about being clean just for the sake of being clean.  This reputation for cleanliness made them, get this, distinct from all the other nations around them.  Taking a bath was not a common occurrence in all of the other cultures of this time.  God wanted His people to be clean because that would make them distinct from all the other cultures around them.  And if they were distinct, if they were Holy, then their God whom they served would be identified with them, and all the nations everywhere would know that He alone is God, He alone is distinct.  There is none other like Him.

Now there was a method for washing.  And this became a very important part of Israel’s culture.  To understand this we need to go way back to the very beginning.  And I mean the very beginning.  Turn in your Bibles all the way back to Genesis chapter 1.

Genesis 1:9-10

“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.  And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”

מקוה – “mik-veh” – a gathering together of water.

This is an important concept to understand.  This word “mik-veh” used here in scripture eventually took on the meaning to describe any collection of some large mass of water.  So, that could be a pond, a stream, a lake, a river.  Anywhere there was a sufficient amount of water.  It was in these large masses of water where the people were to bathe.  Now what do you do if you didn’t live nearby a river or stream or pond or lake?  Well, then you built a “mik-veh”.   In fact, Solomon built a “mik-veh”.  Look at 1 Kings chapter 7.

1 Kings chapter 7, Solomon is building the temple.  Remember David wanted to build God a house, but God said, no, I don’t need a house, all of creation is mine, what kind of house could you possible build for me?  I will build you a house, and your son Solomon will build a house for me.  You just gather all the materials so he can build it.  So in 1 Kings Solomon is building the temple, and then in chapter 7 verse 23 we read this:

1 Kings 7:23- 26

“And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast. It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward. And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths.”

A bath is a unit of liquid measure. 2000 baths would be the equivalent of about 11,000 gallons. So this is about the size of a small swimming pool.

What this was, was a “mik-veh”.  This was the equivalent of the laver that was used in the tabernacle, only on a much much larger scale!  The priests used this to wash their hands and feet as they were required for whatever particular service they had to perform in the temple.

These washings not only carried with them a hygienic benefit, but there was a spiritual aspect to it as well.  It was to symbolize God cleansing them.  It was to symbolize them making themselves clean before presenting themselves to God.  The people washing themselves was a symbol of their need to be clean before God, to show that they were made distinct.  Sometimes they only needed to wash their hands and feet.  Sometimes they had to wash their whole bodies, requiring them to completely immerse themselves in he “mik-veh” and pour the water over their heads.  There were some washing requirements that mandated that the waters be constantly refreshed from a fresh source.  In other words, it could not be a stagnant pool of water, it had to have a fresh source constantly turning the water over to keep it fresh.  This was referred to as, get this, “living water.”

Over time, this word “mik-veh” eventually would take on two particular aspects.  It was first used to refer to a gathering of water, but it also came to refer to the actual process of the washing itself.  So as you can see, the process of washing and the “mik-veh” was a very integral part of the Jewish culture, and not just from a cultural standpoint, but concerning the Law as well.

Now fast forward a few centuries, and now we come to New Testament times.  Knowing what we know about the importance of washing and this word “mik-veh”, there is a Greek equivalent for this in the New Testament.  Anyone want to take a guess at what it is?  Baptism!  Right.

βαπτζω – “bap-tid-zoh” – to immerse or submerge.  To make fully wet.  This same word is actually taken from the textile industry meaning, to dip, where they would take fabric and dip it in a vat of dye.  But baptism as it’s used in the Greek refers to taking something and fully immersing it in water.  Ok, this is the equivalent of the Hebrew “mik-veh”.  Now, in the New Testament, we have this individual named John.  He comes on the scene, and he’s out in the wilderness, eating honey and locust, and what is he doing?  He’s baptizing people. Why was he baptizing?  Was this something new God had him do?  We have been taught that, though, haven’t we?  That this was some precedent concerning the initiation of the church age.

The gospels tell us though that John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.  Now have you ever stopped to ask yourself what that means?  See this takes on a whole new meaning, there are serious implications to this when we consider that what John was actually doing was performing a Jewish “mik-veh”.  This was a ceremonial washing that was required of people before they could go and worship in the temple.

Now this is important to understand.  We’re making this connection between the Old and New Testaments, and what I’m trying to get you to see is that baptism was not a new concept.  The Jews were very familiar with baptism.  They called it a “mik-veh”, but in the New Testament it’s called baptism because that’s the Greek word for the exact same thing as a “mik-veh”, and the New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew.  So whenever you see the word “baptism” or “baptize” in the New Testament, please keep this in mind, this was no new concept, the Jews in general, and Jewish believers in particular already understood what baptism was all about.  It was already part of their culture going all the way back to Moses and the Law.  It was an integral part of the washing requirements of the Law.

Now what does all of this have to do with Sanctification?  Well, the very definition of Sanctification involves cleansing, and we saw earlier that one of the ways you sanctify something is to wash it.  So here we are.  We’re in the New Testament.  What significance does this all have in the New Testament?  Well, as I’ve already stated, this was a concept already familiar to the Jews.  The Jews understood sanctification as cleansing to make holy.  How does this apply to the New Testament?  What difference does this make to believers who are not under the Law?  Well, if we understand that the real purpose of the law was for Sanctification and not Justification it makes a big difference.  The first believers were Jews, so I think they perfectly understood this connection with the Law.  How do we understand it?

Well lets start with a few passages.  Let’s start with John 15, so it you have your Bibles go ahead and turn to John 15.

John 15:1-3

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

There are two words I want you to pay special attention to here.  The first word is “purgeth”.


καθαιρω – “kath-ahee-rho” – (verb); to cleanse, or specifically to prune.

Now I did some cursory research on caring for grapevines.  I actually found some really great information in the Farmer’s Almanac.  When caring for a grapevine, pruning is the single-most important step in getting a grapevine to produce the greatest amount of fruit.  As a vine grows, you have the main trunk of the vine and then you have branches coming off the main vine.  The branches produce canes, and it is from the canes that the fruit grows and develops.  Once those canes have fruited, they are done.  They wont produce any more fruit.  So you have to cut back those canes so that the branches will grow new canes to produce new fruit.

A if vinedresser wants his vines to produce the most grapes, he prunes the vines very aggressively during the vines’ dormant period, usually cutting away up to 90% of the previous season’s growth.  The plant is then able to put all its strength back into producing new canes that will produce more fruit that year.  The more you prune, the more fruit you get.  So when you prune a grapevine, you are in fact literally “cleansing” the branches.  And this is exactly what Jesus means when he uses this metaphor of the vine with His disciples.  He is talking about cleansing them.  In fact, He reiterates that point in verse 3 when he tells them you are clean.


καθαρος – “kath-ah-rohs” – (adjective); clean

Notice, it the same root word that was used in verse 2.  Same word, only in verse 2 it is a verb, and in verse 3 it is an adjective.  It’s talking about cleansing.  Cleansing them through the word.  And this is not the only time that Jesus has used this expression.  If you flip ahead 2 chapters, to chapter 17, here we have Jesus, the night before His crucifixion, in the garden of Gethsemane, praying to the Father.  And notice one of the specific things He prays for in verse 17.

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

Cleanse them through thy truth.  Make them clean through thy truth.  Thy word is truth.  God sanctifies us with His word.  Just as the vine branches are cleansed, we are cleansed by God’s word so that we may be distinct for Him, and in being distinct we produce more fruit.  God’s word does that.

Now one more passage I want us to look at and then we’ll make this practical.  One more passage related to cleansing.  Turn back to John 13.  And we’ll start with verse 3.

John 13:3-15

“3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash [underline that] the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed [circle that] needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”

νιπτω – “nip-toh” – to cleanse, specifically the hands and feet.

λουω – “loo-oh” – To bathe. To cleanse the whole person from head to foot.

Now this is going to get a little tricky here, so lets go through this carefully. We all understand the culture of foot-washing, we’ve heard it explained to us many times. This was customary to do because their feet would get dirty from wearing sandals. Ok. Now notice Peter doesn’t want Jesus to wash his feet because he thinks such a menial task is beneath Jesus. It’s humiliating. He doesn’t want to humiliate Jesus, so he refuses to let him do it. Jesus tells him, I am doing this as an object lesson, but you’re not going to get it right now, but you will later on.

See Peter is confused because Jesus said that if He doesn’t wash Peter’s feet then he has no part with him. So in Peter’s mind, he misunderstands the washing involved with the Law. His mind goes back to the “mik-veh”. Peter’s line of reasoning is, well if it’s going to be that kind of washing, then you need to wash my whole body. We need to perform a “mik-veh” kind of washing. We need to wash me head to foot. But Jesus immediately corrects him. He says, no, you don’t need that kind of washing. That is why the Greek uses a different word for wash in this one instance. The word “loo-oh” instead of “nip-to”. No, Peter. We don’t need to wash you head to foot because you are already clean completely. We just need to wash your feet every now and then.

Ok, now this is where it gets tricky, so we need to keep this straight when we say not just clean, but clean completely. Stay with me on this as I try to explain this. Because in this one statement Jesus begins to give a new meaning pertaining to baptism. They already understood baptism, the “mik-veh” as it pertains to cleansing regarding the Law and sanctification. But right here Jesus alludes to the fact that there is an even more complete cleansing. A different kind of cleansing. A cleansing not with water, but with the Holy Spirit. A washing of regeneration, that is, the new birth. A washing that results in a completely clean and righteous individual. That is Justification. Jesus told Peter, you are already justified, you are already clean, you just need your feet washed every now and then. The foot washing was the metaphor for Sanctification. It is significant that two different words are used here for “wash”. Because one is referring to justification which is a completed act, and the other refers Sanctification which is on-going. And Jesus even told his disciples in verse 14, this is an example. You are to do this to each other. Do you get that? We are involved in each other’s sanctification. We not only need our own feet washed, we help wash each other’s feet.

Why do we need our feet washed every now and then? Because they get dirty. That’s really the simple answer. We have a tendency to get dirty. Why do we get dirty? Because even though we are a new creature, even though the new birth has happened, and God’s righteous seed is in us, we still dwell in this body of flesh with is corrupted by sin. By the curse. And God wants us to bring that body under submission. Not for justification. That has already happened. But it is God’s desire for His people to be holy like Him. To be distinct, because if we identify with Him as a child of God, we should be like Him in all that we do. And that happens through Sanctification. The process by which we become more distinct from that which is like all the rest, and in doing so we produce more fruit, and all of this is well-pleasing to God. This is where we bring Him glory. Not in dwelling on our so-called wretchedness or depravity, but in aggressively striving to obey Him and be more like him.

Now that was a quick summary. In session 3, I hope to get into the more practical application of all of this, how this all works itself out in our day to day lives. And I want to get more into this question of why do we sin if we are righteous. And more importantly, how can we have assurance of salvation. Sanctification plays a big part of that. If we really understand the purpose of Sanctification, assurance of salvation isn’t even an issue.


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