Topic: Sanctification Explained

Text:   Romans 6:1-10

Memory verse: Romans 6:6


As we have studied the theme of justification, it is important to highlight that, the broken relationship between sinful humanity and a holy God is made right by man’s acceptance of what God has done “in Christ.” A person enters the Kingdom of God and is justified before God by accepting the Messiah through faith. This new birth, or beginning, is essential, but God does not want His children to remain spiritual babies. While justification which occurs at the moment of the new birth is the vital point of beginning, sanctification is the continuing stage and is so very important. It is the growth and development stage of the believer. Since this constitutes the theme of Romans 6-8, let us first define the word “sanctification.”

What is Sanctification?

To sanctify means simply “to set apart.” It says nothing essential about the nature of a thing, only its position with reference to God. For example, the tabernacle and its furnishings were sanctified, set apart for God’s exclusive use. The wood, cloth, metal and other materials were not of themselves “holy,” but they were set apart to God. In John 17:19, Jesus says that He sanctified Himself. Certainly the Son of God had no need to be made “more holy” than He was. What He means is simply that He set Himself apart to serve God and, through His act of salvation, was able to set believers apart to the glory of God.

Stages of Sanctification

Sanctification in the Scriptures is seen in three ways or stages:

  • Positional – the believer is taken out of the world and seated with Jesus (John 17:16)
  • Practical – the believer has day-by-day victory over sin. He grows in holiness and in likeness to the Messiah.
  • Perfect –  “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). One day we are in heaven with God, “perfect” in every respect.

Overview of Christian’s Responsibilities in the process of Sanctification

The believer has certain responsibilities. Living as a believer is not a passive thing, in which we merely “die” and let God do everything for us. The three key words of chapter 6 are as follows: Know, reckon and yield. We must know our spiritual position and privileges in Jesus. This means spending time with the Word of God.

We must reckon (calculate, take into account) that what God says about us in the Bible is true in our lives. This means having faith that is born of the Spirit. Finally, we must yield (literally, “present” or “offer” one’s self) to the Spirit. This is not just an occasional yielding, but all day long. This is “walking in the Spirit.”

The old nature is strong to do evil, and yet “the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41) when it comes to doing anything spiritual. We must feed the new nature on the milk and the meat of the Word of God. We reckon ourselves to be dead to sin. Why feed a corpse? Yet many believers feed the old nature on the food of the world while the new nature starves for the “manna from God” and for fellowship with God in prayer. God has already done His part. Now, our responsibilities are clear: we are to know, to reckon and to yield.

 Believer’s Responsibility of knowing in the process of Sanctification  (6:1-10)

Paul often uses the word “know” in this chapter (verses 3, 6, 9 and 16). Satan wants to blind us when it comes to spiritual truth. This is why many believers are not living according to their true position in Christ. Some first century believers were saying that perhaps they should “go on sinning so that grace may increase” (verse 1).  Paul shows, however, that this is first of all an absurd statement. And second, it is impossible because the true believer is dead to sin. This is the gospel – the wonderful truth of our identification with Jesus. Not only did the Messiah die for us, we died with Him. When the Spirit baptized us into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), then we were buried with Him and raised to newness of life.

Verses 3-4 do not refer to actual water baptism but the operation of the Spirit in putting us “into Christ” as members of His body (This operation is illustrated by water baptism). When Jesus died, we died with Him. When He was raised, we were raised to newness of life with Him. This is our new position in Jesus. The Lord Jesus not only died for sin, but He also died to sin (6:10). That is, He broke the power of sin and crucified the old nature (6:6). The old nature is still there, but it has been robbed of its power by the cross of Jesus. We died with Jesus to all that belongs to the old life and the old, sinful nature.

 Sin and the sin nature are hard taskmasters. The unsaved person is a slave of sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). Many believers still serve sin even though their slavery to sin has been broken by Jesus. Often people discover that the Messiah died for their sins and they receive Him into their hearts. But then they fail to take up the precious promises of Romans 6. They do not discover the glorious freedom they have in Jesus. These promises in Romans 6 are specifically that:

– The believer is dead to sin (verse 2)

– The old nature has been crucified (verse 6)

– The believer is freed from sin (verse 7)

The old nature can no longer reign as king over the believer who knows the truth, reckons on it, and yields to the Lord.


Romans 3:21 to 5:21 emphasized how God brings a person into right standing with Himself, which is by faith. Now, in chapters 6-8, Paul tells how a person can be sanctified. That is how righteousness can truly “reign” in the life of a believer (5:17, 21). Romans 6:1-10 has pointed out how the believer is being dead to sin and so sin no longer rules or reigns over us (6:12). Thus, we get victory over the old, sinful nature by realizing that we have been crucified with the Lord Jesus.


  1. Explain the meaning of sanctification.
  2. State the three stages of sanctification.
  3. A true believer cannot continue to enjoy sin, just because of Grace. Discuss.
  4. If sanctification is the work of God, what are believers required to do?




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