Sanctification definition – Meaning of Sanctification

In this message series we shall be looking at what Biblical sanctification means for the New Testament believer. There are two types of sanctification – vocational and moral. How do you sanctify yourself vocationally? What do YOU do that validates your internal compass?

In this article we will address the meaning of the word “sanctification” and vocational sanctification.

Sanctification – Part 1 – Vocational Sanctification

The word sanctification simply means “to be set apart.”
The generic meaning of sanctification is “the state of proper functioning.”
Hence for an object to be sanctified means for it to be “set apart” or “separated” for it’s created purpose. For a person to be sanctified, means for them to be set apart for their created purpose, for their calling or mission in life.

“To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. A pen is sanctified when used to write. A human being is sanctified, when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose. God calls his own to set themselves apart for that which He has set them apart. Sanctify, therefore, becomes a synonym for “trust and obey.” Every believer has a “calling” or “vocation” based on “gifting.” The church functions by the ministry of gifted and called individuals. Each one has a gift. The prominence of ministry will vary from person to person. Yet each sanctifies his or her calling through faithfulness.” (Quotation from Bakers Evangelical Dictionary)

Vocational Sanctification

How do YOU sanctify yourself vocationally? What do YOU do that validates your internal compass? We have a couple in our church who just love to take people home for lunch after church. They have a wonderful gift of hospitality. They set themselves apart for God when they do this. It is such an intrinsic part of who they are, they come alive when they give expression to this form of ministry. When we are faithful to do what God created us for, we are sanctifying ourselves.

Jesus came into the earth to die – that was His purpose in coming to the earth. He sanctified Himself for the purpose of going to the cross. Michelangelo came into the earth for a different purpose. He sanctified himself vocationally when he painted Jesus on the cross. The great poet Milton sanctified himself when he wrote “Paradise lost.”

A pen is sanctified for the purpose for which it was created when we write with it. To use it as a garden implement is to profane it’s created purpose.


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"Our desires need to be continually prioritised according to God’s purposes."

We sanctify a portion of our income when we give a tenth to the Lord. It is set apart for the purpose of building God’s kingdom. Some people use that portion to pay their bills. But we’re supposed to pay our bills with the portion that’s set apart to pay our bills.

As a young man I sanctified my vocational calling when I chose not to listen to the Beatles. Today I listen to some of their songs and I think they are wonderful. But when I was a young man I knew that if I listened to their music it would influence me too much in the years when I was still being molded and shaped in a unique calling that God had for me, and I didn’t want that calling to be influenced by the music of the day, so I chose to sanctify my vocational calling by not listening to music that I felt would interfere with that.

Michael Jones (a famous New Zealand sportsman) sanctified his gift when he chose not to play rugby on Sunday.

When I was a college student the musical rehearsals were always on a Sunday, but it never occurred to me to sanctify Sunday – in fact I believe I was in the will of God in attending musical rehearsals that helped shaped my calling and destiny! So you just can’t take one formula and make it the same for all. Your calling and journey will be different from everyone elses, and you cannot make one persons sanctification anothers.

There was a time in my student days when God asked me to put aside my love of the study of creation vs evolution. I heard Him say to my heart, “You have been in my permissive will, but I have not called you to do that – give it up now. Give yourself to music and worship.” So I did. I sanctified myself vocationally. I gave away my entire library of study materials, so it would not distract me from my calling.

In the book, “The war of art” by Stephen Pressfiel, he discusses how everyone has to overcome the internal resistance they feel when they attempt to fulfil their destiny.. It scares us, so we procrastinate. He discusses how to overcome procrastination, and “do it afraid” as Joyce Meyer coined the phrase.

As a young man Hitler felt inspired to be an artist. He made several attempts early in life to become an artist, but he failed. So he gave up, and instead enlisted with the army. It was easier for Hitler to start WW2 than to face a blank piece of canvas. You can see what incredible damage was inflicted on the world because one person failed to sanctify their vocational calling.

Our desires need to be continually prioritised according to God’s purposes.

In commanding us to “sanctify yourselves” God is not just saying “DON’T do this!” He is saying “DO THIS!. Do the thing you were created for!”


Let’s just pray for a few minutes and sanctify our vocational calling. Ask the Lord, “Am I a little Hitler right now – at war with myself and everyone else around me? Do I need to find peace with myself and others by finding who I am uniquely called to be, and find my place in the world and function according to who God has made me?

Salvation is a Gift (All the big words are free)
Sanctification – Part 1 – Definition & Vocational Sanctification
Sanctification – Part 2 – Becoming a Servant Leader
Sanctification – Part 3 – Moral Sanctification
Sanctification – Part 4 – You shall be Holy

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