To make holy, or to set apart for God, Ge 2:3; Ex 19:23. Ub the Old Testament, sanctification frequently denotes the ceremonial or ritual consecration of any person or thing to God: thus the Hebrews as a people were holy unto the Lord, through the covenant with its rites and atoning sacrifices, Ex 31:13; and the Jewish tabernacle, altar, priest, etc., were solemnly set apart for the divine service, Le 8:10-12. In the similar sense, men, "sanctified themselves" who made special preparation for the presence and worship of God, Ex 19:10-11; Nu 11:18; a day was sanctified when set apart for fasting and prayer, Joe 1:14; and the Sabbath was sanctified when regarded and treated as holy unto the Lord, De 5:12. All such sanctifications were testimonials to the holiness of God, and signified men's need of moral sanctification, or the devotion of purified and obedient souls to his love and service.
In a doctrinal sense, sanctification is the making truly and perfectly holy what was before defiled and sinful. It is a progressive work of divine grace upon the soul justified by the love of Christ. The believer is gradually cleansed from the corruption of his nature, and is at length presented "unspotted before the throne of God with exceeding joy." The Holy Spirit performs this work in connection with the providence and word of God, Joh 14:26; 17:17; 2Th 2:13; 1Pe 1:2 and the highest motives urge every Christian not to resist him, and seek to be holy even as God is holy. The ultimate sanctification of every believer in Christ is a covenant mercy purchased on the cross. He, who saves us from the penalty of sin, also saves us from its power; and in promising to bring a believer into heaven, engages also to prepare for heaven.
SANCTIFY. In the Old Testament, to sanctify often denotes to separate from a common to a holy purpose; to set apart or consecrate to God as his special property, and for his service. Our Lord also uses this term, when he says, "For their sakes I sanctify myself," Joh 17:19; that is, I separate and dedicate myself to be a sacrifice to God for them, "that they also may be sanctified through the truth;" that is, that they may be cleansed from the guilt of sin. Under the law of Moses, there was a church purity, or ceremonial sanctification, which might be obtained by the observance of external rites and ordinances, while persons were destitute of internal purity or holiness. Every defiled person was made "common," and excluded from the privilege of a right to draw nigh to God in his solemn worship; but in his purification he was again separated to him, and restored to his sacred right. Hence St. Paul speaks of "the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, as sanctifying unto the purifying of the flesh," Heb 9:13. These things were in reality of no moral worth or value; they were merely typical institutions, intended to represent the blessings of the new and better covenant, those "good things that were to come;" and therefore God is frequently spoken of in the prophets as despising them, namely, in any other view than that for which his wisdom had ordained them, Isa 1:11-15; Ps 50:8-9; 51:16. But that dispensation is now at an end; under the New Testament, the state of things is changed, for now "neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." The thing signified, namely, internal purity and holiness, is no less necessary to a right to the privileges of the Gospel, than the observance of those external rites was unto the privileges of the law.