Loosely defined, sanctification is the work of both God and a believer toward becoming more Christ-like. The variations within evangelical theology and its view of sanctification vary greatly.
As a system of theology, dispensationalism views sanctification in similar ways to many other evangelical theologies with the exception of three distinctions. Those three distinctions are
- The security of a believer.
- The work of the Spirit.
- The unique role of progressive sanctification.
This blog post will define sanctification broadly from both a mainline and dispensational viewpoint and discuss at length the three distinctions of the dispensational view of sanctification.
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According to the Tyndale Bible Dictionary, sanctification is “being made holy, or purified” by A.H. Strong as the “continuous operation of the Holy Spirit, by which the holy disposition imparted in regeneration is maintained and strengthened.” Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology tells us that word sanctify comes from similar Hebrew and Greek words that mean “a person or thing is thereby said to be set apart, or classified, usually as pertaining unto God.” Encompassing all of these definitions is that “Sanctification refers to growth in spiritual maturity, founded upon the enablement provided to all believers by the Holy Spirit and energized by the filling of the Spirit.”[ref]Nathan Holsteen, “The Reformed View of Sanctification,” unpublished class notes for ST105 (Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall Semester, 2013), 18.[/ref]
With the definition of sanctification provided it is important to examine dispensationalism and how it might provide a different view of what sanctification is and how it occurs in the life of a believer.