By Jimmy Tuten, Jr.
“Sanctification” in its noun form comes from the Greek word hagiasmos. The lexicons tell us that it has two aspects, basically: (a) Separation to God, 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Thess. 2:13, through His Son Jesus, Col. 1:13; 1 Cor. 1:2, (b) The course of life befitting those so separated, 1 Thess. 4:3-4, 7. It can be demonstrated that sanctification is through the blood of Christ, resulting from obedience to the Gospel where one reaches the blood in baptism for the remission of sins and is to be maintained throughout the Christian’s life. In spite of what Church of God debaters have contended, sanctification does not demand sinless perfection. There was a time when denominations were the only outlets for error on sanctification. How we have our own brethren to contend with and I strongly feel that these are influenced by Calvinism perhaps beyond their own realization.
I have been following Arnold Hardin’s writings in The Persuader for some time. I have been tempted for some time to reply to some of his erroneous teachings and now I find myself yielding to that temptation. “Free Thinker” or not, his false conclusions regarding “sanctification” needs exposing.
In this writing, I am referring to the July 23, 1978 issue of The Persuader. In this issue brother Hardin tries to do for “justification” and “sanctification” what he and others have done with “gospel” and “doctrine.” He says, “One of, if not the greatest failure among us, has been a clear distinction made between justification and sanctification. This is clearly the reason that so many cannot understand the difference between gospel and doctrinal instructions. The difference between the latter is exactly the difference between the former.” He bases this on the belief that “God gives justification immediately (Emphasis mine, jt), but he gives sanctification by another method” (Emphasis mine, jt. Here Arnold quotes R. C. Bell, Studies In Romans). The error associated with the “gospel-doctrine” heresy has been exposed many times and does not need attention here. However, since brother Hardin has come up with something new (at least to this writer) in trying to parallel justification and sanctification with gospel and doctrine, I feel obligated to reply. Following the reasoning of others whom he freely quotes, brother Hardin says that “justification” is a divine work for us, pertaining to becoming a Christian (this is the claim for the “gospel”) and that “sanctification” is a divine work in us, pertaining to living the Christian life (the claim for “doctrine”). The conclusion is that “justification” makes Christians and “sanctification” makes saints saintly. “Justification” is said to be perfect passive righteousness because it is Christ’s righteousness and “sanctification” is imperfect active righteousness for it is the work of sinful man. He endorses Luther’s conclusion: “The former righteousness is by faith alone; the latter righteousness is by good works engendered by faith. The former is justification; the latter is sanctification.”
If I am misunderstanding what Brother Arnold is saying then I hope he will correct me. If what he has said means anything at all, it says that “justification” and “sanctification” are arbitrarily separated and that they occur at different times in a person’s life. I do not disagree with all that brother Arnold says about these two words, but I do deny that one is justified by faith only and then, at a later date, sanctified by good works engendered by that faith. How in the world can one be justified and then later as a sinful man, sanctified? Mind you, I am not saying that a sanctified man is perfect. What I want to show is that the Scriptures teach that when one is justified at the same time he is sanctified! Both words refer to the redemption of the human race in Christ as they comply with the will of Christ.
When Is One Sanctified?
To answer this question without getting into a detailed discussion, observe that “justification” means the act of pronouncing righteous or an acquittal affected in the death of Christ. While more could be said regarding justification, I do not believe brother Hardin will disagree with this conclusion, unless he wishes to take on Vine and Thayer. On sanctification, brother Hardin needs to do some backing up. His “free thinking” is getting him into trouble. “Sanctification” is also in Christ (1 Cor. 1:2). It involves a separation from evil things and ways to which their sole title is the death of Christ (Vine, Eph. 5:25-27; Col. 1:21-23). Both justification and sanctification are affected in the death of Christ, and both are made possible by the grace of God. It is the will of God that we be sanctified (1 Thess. 4:3-4). For this reason He called us by the gospel (1 Thess. 4:7; 2 Thess. 2:14). Response to this call (said to be a “heavenly calling” in Scripture) involves obedient faith, resulting in justification and sanctification at the same time. Remember, “but of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). The Corinthians were saints (sanctified in Christ, 1 Cor. 1:2), sanctified to God who chooses us (2 Thess. 2:13). The believer is baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4) and by this act becomes a child of God (Gal. 3:2627). They are accounted righteous because their sins are forgiven, hence justified (Rom. 4:3-8). If they are righteous they are at the same time sanctified. See it illustrated in 1 Corinthians 6: “and such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (v. 11). The washing, the sanctification and the justification occur when the believer is baptized! At that time he is acquitted and sanctified.
The Bible does not teach that one is justified by faith only at one point in time and then sanctified at another point by works. Brother Hardin, are you in. league with the Church of God? They take the position that the number converted is one group, the number sanctified is another and those baptized in the Holy Ghost a third group. They make a clear distinction between a converted man and a sanctified man. A man is sanctified when he is converted, and converted when he is justified.
Again, how can brother Hardin argue that the perfect, sinless righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer so that sins of ignorance and weakness are overlooked, without seeing that this demands the impossibility of apostasy on the part of the baptized believer. Will not brother Hardin have to agree that the sanctified do not sin, as the church of God contends? This appears to be a foregone conclusion of his position. But then he meets himself in contradiction when he writes on sanctification. He can not have his cake and eat it too.
Truth Magazine XXII: 47, pp. 759-760
November 30, 1978