I. THE THREE ASPECTS OF
THE SANCTIFICATION IN THE SCRIPTURES
The truth concerning sanctification has been a puzzling matter among Christian teachers throughout the years. Different teachers have had different opinions about the significance of sanctification. John Wesley thought that sanctification was sinless perfection.
We received help from the teaching of the Brethren to see that John Wesley’s word was not accurate. The Brethren taught the truth concerning sanctification based upon the Lord’s words in Matthew 23, where the Lord said that the gold was sanctified by the temple and that the gift, the offering, was sanctified by the altar (vv. 17, 19). Sanctification is not sinless perfection or purity, because the gold did not become more pure when it was sanctified by the temple. Its being sanctified was not related to its purity. When the gold was in the market, it was common and worldly, but the same gold in the temple became holy, sanctified. When it was sanctified by the temple unto God, that sanctification changed the position of the gold. Thus, sanctification, the Brethren said, is a matter of position.
In Matthew 23 the Lord Jesus also referred us to the sacrifices, the offerings, sanctified by the altar. In the flock a sheep is common. But when it is put on the altar, the altar sanctifies it, making it holy, unto God. So again the Brethren showed that this has nothing to do with purity or perfection. But this is to change the position of the sacrifice. The gold in the temple and the sacrifice on the altar are sanctified by changing their location from a common place to a holy place.
We accepted this teaching concerning positional sanctification because it is very scripturally based, but we were still not so satisfied that we had seen the full truth concerning sanctification. Eventually, the Lord showed us that sanctification is not so simple. There is only one sanctification, but it has three aspects. We need to see the three aspects of sanctification in the Scriptures. First, there is the Spirit’s sanctification in seeking the God-chosen people before their repentance (1 Pet. 1:2). Second, there is the sanctification by the blood of Christ at the time of the believers’ believing (Heb. 13:12; 9:13-14; 10:29). Third, there is the Spirit’s dispositional sanctification in the believers’ full course of their Christian life (Rom. 15:16b; 6:19, 22).
Eventually, we even found out something more than this. I believe this is a final, ultimate finding. We found out that sanctification is related to God’s economy, and God’s economy is altogether centered on the desire of God. Ephesians 1:10 and 3:9 refer to God’s economy. In eternity past without any beginning, God Himself in Christ made an economy, and the center of God’s eternal economy is for God to have many sons to satisfy His heart’s desire. Because God is a living person, He has a desire. In eternity past He desired to have many sons. He wanted to be a great Father with a family full of sons.
God’s desire to have many sons was the center and still is the center of God’s economy. The sonship is vitally important to God. First, God has a Son, and He is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16). God was satisfied with Christ, His only begotten Son, but not in full. Eventually, God made this only begotten Son the firstborn Son among many brothers (Rom. 8:29). The only begotten Son is wonderful, but God’s desire is to have many sons.
(The Spirit with Our Spirit, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)