Kingdom Holiness and Sanctification

"... as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy, 1 Peter 1'15-16.

"To those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord," 1 Corinthians 1'2.


Holiness and sanctification, and godliness, are words that are not often mentioned. Nevertheless, the spiritual fact is that truly born again Believers have been conveyed by the Father into the Kingdom of the Son of His love (Colossians 1'13) where such words are part of the language.

Godliness is covered in the article Kingdom Godliness (see the Menu) where it states that, in essence, it's simply being like Jesus in His everyday awareness of the Father. It's included here because godliness (in the form of being aware of God) comes before holiness and sanctification, which are interrelated. When unbelieving people hear the good news of God, believe, truly repent and receive Christ their thinking and behaviour begin to change, which marks the beginning of holiness and sanctification.

The New Testament Greek words for the English "holy" and "sanctified" are hagios (holy), and hagiazo, (sanctified).

"Hagios" means holy, a characteristic of God and separated (to God).

"Hagiazo" means to make holy, consecrate, sanctify, separate, set apart for God.

Nevertheless, words like these seem a bit distant to the everyday Believer. They seem to be more suited to someone who would be regarded as more spiritual, like a pastor or an elder. But the truth is much different because there is one very basic spiritual understanding that the words holiness and sanctification each carry and it is that, in Christ, every born again Believer is:

1. Counted by God as holy: "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved ..." Colossians 3'12 .

2. Counted by God as sanctified: "... to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus," 1 Corinthians 1'2.

So, from being counted holy and sanctified at spiritual birth Believers are to grow in their new understandings. But holiness and sanctification are not things that Believers are to strive to achieve. Nevertheless, the Father does have expectation. The Holy Spirit says, "... as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby," 1 Peter 2'2.

Interestingly, the word "saints" means "sanctified ones" and occurs 61 times in the New Testament. Paul, speaking about the Lord's coming, refers to them: "... when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe because our testimony among you was believed" ( 2 Thessalonians 1'10). What a day that will be.

"For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches," Romans 11'16. Thank you, Lord!


There is, though, an aspect of holiness and sanctification that is remarkable and it demonstrates God's great grace. It's this:

"If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her.
And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy," 1 Corinthians 7'12-14.

That is amazing, but it's also very strange because 2 Corinthians 6'14 says: "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers". And in the light of the basic understandings of holiness and sanctification it shouldn't be. However, this refers to an already married couple.

These are encouraging for a married new Believer. It takes care of the questions. "How does this affect my marriage?" "Should I get a divorce?" "And what about the children?" But Paul says hold on, your newly discovered heavenly Father has it covered.

And because the Believer is accounted as being sanctified and holy before God, for their sake their willing spouse is classified by Him as sanctified and the children they have together are classified as holy and not unacceptable in spite of them being ungodly.

Paul goes on to say: "God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7'15-16.


"... if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches," Romans 11'16. Jesus is holy so all who have received Him are holy.

God is saying, "You are holy, now be holy". So the apostle Peter says:

"... be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy'," 1 Peter 1'13-16.

The saying, "In the world but not of the world", is used among Believers from time to time. It comes from Jesus' words: “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world" (John 17'11) and “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world" (John 17'16). 

It's a saying that summarises the reality of being holy, sanctified Believers. And the manifest of it is not only to be seen in the world but also in the in the Body of Christ like this:

"... as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection," Colossians 3'12-14.

Jesus is the Holy One (Acts 3'14) and the members of the Body of Christ, His holy ones, are called to be like Him. His holiness arose out of His relationship with His Father. Listen to what He said to Mary Magdalene:

“... go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God’,” John 20'17.

He was always aware and alive to His Father, calling God My Father many times. Which is what holiness is all about. And it's also what being in the Kingdom of the Son of the Father's love is all about as Believers stand side by side with Jesus in it, as His joint heirs.


Being holy, then, is about being alive to God and, as a result, being different. Men and women without Christ are ungodly and unholy but still made in the image of God. That's humanity. Believers live among them as "sojourners and pilgrims" (1 Peter 2'11) and have the same human basic needs as them, and yet distinctly spiritual and at the same time distinctly human.

Being holy and sanctified raises challenges but Jesus encourages His People:

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world," John 16'33.

Referring to himself and Timothy Paul says:

"... we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God," 2 Corinthians 1'12.


However, it's not for nothing that Peter says: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour," 1 Peter 5'8. So beware! The enemy is crafty. He's out to lure Believers into becoming comfortable among unbelievers and begin compromising.

This is why Paul says: "... let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup", at the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11'28).

So, take stock, look around:

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'

Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.

I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty'.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God," 2 Corinthians 6'14-7'1.

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints (1 Thessalonians 3'12-13).


In the same way that the Lord did not need to be immersed in water, He did not need to be sanctified either. But we do. He prayed for His People, saying:

“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth," John 1716-19.rightly emphasise the sacrifice that the Lord made for us on the cross. But He did something else. He also purposefully lived in obedience to His Father's truth. By fulfilling God's will He was sanctifying Himself. In doing that He made Himself the example for Believers to be sanctified the same way.

The first step comes at no cost to anyone. When He commissioned Paul to go to the Gentiles, Jesus said He wanted him to:

"... open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me," Acts 26'18.

"Sanctified by faith in Me," He said. And: "... you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God," 1 Corinthians 6'11. And there are more scriptures about the spiritual blessing of sanctification.

"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Thessalonians 5'23.


It may be said that for every "be" there's a "do not be". There is a scripture that does that and at the same time seems to describe the essence of holiness and sanctification. Paul says: "... do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind," Romans 12'1-2.

Changes of thinking result in changes of action. Being transformed means acting in a new way (being sanctified). A renewed mind means thinking in a new way (being holy).

Hear what the Holy Spirit says:

"... if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ," 2 Corinthians 2'17-18.

Understanding this keeps a Believer open to the Word of Christ and open to growing spiritually, so "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind". Therefore:

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world.
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2'15-17).


"... as He is, so are we in this world (1 John 4'17).

"... that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2'9).