E. HOLINESS FOR SANCTIFICATION
The New Testament reveals that the Holy Spirit has the attribute of holiness for sanctification (1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 15:16). In the New Testament the word “holy” means separated to God, set apart to Him. To be holy is to be different, distinct, from everything that is common. In the universe there is only one nature that is absolutely different from all other things, and this is the nature of God. Hence, God is holy. It is not an insignificant matter to be holy, for to be holy is virtually to be divine. It is to be separate, different, from anything other than God.
Holiness and sanctification both refer to an element that is holy. Holiness refers to the element itself, for holiness is the nature and quality of being holy. Sanctification refers to the process of being made holy, the process of being sanctified. A process is going on to make us holy. This process is sanctification. Therefore, to have holiness is to have the element, and to undergo sanctification is to be in the process of being made holy. Furthermore, sanctification may also denote the practical effect produced, the character and activity, and the resultant state of being sanctified to God (Rom. 6:19, 22).
In the Greek text of the New Testament many times the expression “the Spirit, the holy” is used (1 Thes. 4:8; Heb. 3:7). I believe that the reason for this is that in the New Testament the emphasis is not only on the Spirit but also on holiness. The Spirit has the attribute of holiness and even is holiness. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is sometimes called the Spirit, the holy. Where the Spirit is, there holiness is also. The all-inclusive Spirit dwells in us with a condition, a state, of holiness. The Spirit Himself is the essence, the very substance, of holiness. When this Spirit enters into our spirit and remains there as the essence of holiness, there is in our spirit a condition of holiness.
First Peter 1:2 speaks of the sanctification of the Spirit. Sanctification of the Spirit here is not the sanctification of the Spirit which comes after justification through the redemption of Christ, as revealed in Romans 6:19, 22 and 15:16. In 1 Peter 1 sanctification of the Spirit, as the main emphasis of this chapter, an emphasis on holiness (vv. 15-16), is before the obedience of faith in Christ’s redemption, that is, before justification through Christ’s redemption (1 Cor. 6:11), indicating that the believers’ obedience unto faith in Christ results from the Spirit’s sanctifying work. The Spirit’s sanctification in its two aspects is inclusively revealed in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, which is for the full salvation of God to His chosen people. God’s full salvation is carried out in the sphere of the Spirit’s sanctification.
Second Thessalonians 2:13 says that God has chosen us “unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit.” The salvation unto which we were chosen by God is salvation in sanctification of the Spirit. Sanctification of the Spirit is the divine transformation. By this we are thoroughly saved from all old and negative things and made a new creation to obtain the Lord’s glory. Therefore, the Spirit dwells in us for sanctification. The indwelling of the Spirit is actually our sanctification. The Spirit dwells in us with one goal—to sanctify us, to transform us. This is sanctification of the Spirit.
In Romans 15:16 Paul says, that “the offering of the nations might be acceptable, having been sanctified in the Holy Spirit.” Here to be sanctified means to be separated, to be made holy with transformation in life. This is not merely objective positional sanctification but subjective dispositional sanctification. This sanctification is to renew us, transform us, and conform us to the image of God’s firstborn Son so that we may be fitting to be a living member of the Body of Christ.
We all need to be sanctified, to be made holy. For us to be made holy means that we are separated unto God and become one with Him. If the Spirit did not have the attribute, the excellency, of holiness, He could not sanctify us. But the Spirit does have the attribute of holiness, and this excellency is His power to sanctify us, thereby making us distinct from all that is common.
(Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 079-098), Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)