“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15
Baptism (Greek baptismos) or Baptize (Greek baptizo): Immersion or to immerse. Within the New Covenant, baptism takes two basic forms: Water baptism (immersion in water); and Spirit baptism (immersion in the Spirit), which is also called the baptism in the Holy Spirit or the gift of the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5; Luke 24:49) also includes baptism in fire, which often involves suffering for Christ’s sake for the purpose of sanctification (Matthew 4:11; Mark 10:38-39: Luke 12:50).
Water baptism is the outward act ordained by God to demonstrate that a person who is born again of the Spirit has become Christ’s disciple. Jesus commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).” In the purest sense, water baptism is the betrothal or commitment ceremony of a new member of the bride to Jesus Christ, their Bridegroom. Water baptism is also the act that God ordained to demonstrate the divine transformation that occurs within a believer when they are born again. The best Bible reference for explaining the meaning of water baptism is Romans 6:3-11. When you receive Christ as your Lord and Savior, the Bible says you are spiritually immersed into Christ’s death so that you might have His new resurrection life. The two stages of water baptism express this truth of the gospel. When you are immersed under water, this demonstrates the burial and removal of your old man (your sinful nature). When you are raised in new resurrection life out of the watery grave, this demonstrates that Jesus Christ now lives in you and you are a new creation in Christ. Therefore, through water baptism, new believers declare their union with Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection. In this way, water baptism reveals the heart of God’s New Covenant. Water baptism does not save anyone; it only outwardly expresses a believer’s inward transformation and wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ. In the early church, new believers were normally baptized in water by immersion the same day they were saved or soon thereafter so that they could immediately be instructed on this great provision of the cross of Christ. For more information on this subject, see our Teaching Tract on Water Baptism and Question and Answer on Water Baptism.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Jesus commanded His disciples to be baptized in water; He also commanded them to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Even though His disciples had already received the Holy Spirit for salvation, Jesus made it clear they also needed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit for empowerment. Jesus told His disciples “to wait for the gift My Father had promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptized in water, but in a few days you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be My witnesses (Acts 1:5 & 8; see also Luke 24:49).” This was fulfilled on Pentecost Sunday when the disciples “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:4).” Subsequently, as the gospel of Jesus Christ spread beyond Jerusalem, new disciples continued to be baptized in the Holy Spirit (see Acts 8:14:17; 10:44-48; 11:15-18; 19:1-6). And so they continue to be to the present time.
The Greek word for baptism means immersion. In the natural, there are two ways you can be immersed under water. You can go down under the surface of the water. This is what happens when you are water baptized. The other way is if the water is poured over you until you are completely immersed under it. In the natural, this experience would occur if you stood underneath a pouring waterfall. This is the type of immersion that happens when you are baptized in the Holy Spirit. Thus the Bible describes Holy Spirit baptism in language such as “I will pour out My Spirit” and “the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word” and “the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles.” The Bible also uses the terms “the baptism in the Holy Spirit,” the promise of the Holy Spirit” and “the gift of the Holy Spirit” interchangeably to describe the same experience (Acts 1:4-5; 2:38; 10:44-47; 11:16-17).
When you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, your entire being is immersed in the power of Christ’s Spirit. When Jesus baptizes you in the Holy Spirit, He empowers you to be His witness and overcome the devil. At the same time, He gives you a personal prayer language and enables you to pray in the Spirit for the body of Christ (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6; & Ephesians 6:18). He also empowers you to receive and employ the spiritual gifts to build up His church (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). The baptism in the Holy Spirit is also called the baptism with fire (Matthew 3:11). Since fire represents God’s holiness, Jesus intends the baptism in the Holy Spirit to not only to empower you but to also purify and sanctify you. You receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit the same way you received Jesus Christ – by faith (Galatians 3:14). It is God’s intent that all new believers be baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit. This is why the author of Hebrews said “instruction about baptisms” should be foundational teaching for new believers (Hebrews 6:1-2). For more information on this subject, see our Teaching Tract: Holy Spirit Baptism - The Promise of the Father; our more in-depth critical Bible teaching: The Baptism in the Holy Spirit – Its Purpose and Power, and our Question and Answer: If Jesus baptizes us in the Holy Spirit to empower us, then why do we need to know we died with Christ?
Blood (Greek haima) of Christ: Also called the blood of the Lamb. The blood of Christ is the basis for the New Covenant (Luke 22:20; Hebrews 13:20); it is also the price that Christ paid to redeem the church for God (Acts 20:28; Revelation 5:9). The blood of Christ represents the Son of God’s sacrificial death on the cross on behalf of fallen humanity (John 1:29); it also signifies Jesus’ triumph on the cross over Satan and sin (Colossians 2:15; 1 John 3:8). By His blood, Christ purchased for all mankind (who receive Him) complete redemption from both the penalty and the power of sin. When Christ died, He not only bore our sins on the cross; He also bore our sin nature on the cross with Him (Romans 6:6). Therefore, by the power of the blood of Christ, we not only have forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7); we also have complete deliverance from the power of our sin nature (Romans 6:7).
Since Jesus is God’s only Son, the shedding of Christ’s blood to take away our sin has infinite power and eternal value in God’s eyes. As God’s unblemished (sinless and innocent) Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), Christ’s blood has God’s power to eternally remove our sin and guilt. That’s why God says the blood of Christ is precious (1 Peter 1:19) and powerful (Revelation 12:11). Therefore, the blood of Christ nullifies Satan’s power to accuse and condemn us of sin; it also nullifies Satan’s power to arouse and entice us to sin. We can never approach God on the basis of our works nor can we ever overcome Satan by our ability. The blood of Christ is our only sure ground for drawing near to God (Hebrews 10:19); it is also our only sure ground for overcoming the devil (Revelation 12:11). Therefore, we should not rely on our natural wisdom and strength to live the Christian life; instead, we should always put our confidence in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. This is what it means to “walk by faith and to overcome by the blood of the Lamb.”
Christian (Greek Christianos): A person who has received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and is, therefore, born again of the Spirit and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (See Romans 10:9; John 3:3-7; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13). In the New Testament, Christians are also called Christ’s disciples (Acts 11:26). A false Christian is a person who claims to be a Christian but has never been born again of the Spirit. A false Christian may deceptively even have a false piety (an outward devoutness and an appearance of moral virtue that looks godly). Jesus called false Christians the “tares” that the devil sows among the wheat or the sons of the kingdom (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-42). The Bible also calls false Christians imposters and hypocrites. A carnal (also called “soulish”) Christian is a person who is born again of the Spirit but whose mind is set on earthly worries and pursuits instead of being wholeheartedly submitted to Jesus Christ as their Lord and King. The apostle Paul said carnal or soulish Christians are immature and worldly (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). A carnal Christian may have “immoral” behavior or “moral” behavior, depending on their natural genetic tendency and natural willpower. Either way, a carnal Christian is living by the strength of their soul instead of by faith in Jesus Christ and His completed work on the cross. Therefore, an immature or carnal Christian can only digest basic truth instead of stronger teaching on sanctification (Hebrews 5:11-14). If a carnal Christian persists in rejecting the truth so that he never grows into spiritual maturity by having his mind renewed by the Word of God and he continues to willfully practice sin, the Bible says it leads to spiritual stagnation, corruption and eventually spiritual death (Romans 8:13; Galatians 6:8).
An overcoming Christian is a person who is born again of the Spirit and who is living by faith in the power of Jesus Christ and His completed work on the cross. This is what the Bible calls walking in sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8) and walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). An overcoming Christian believes and acts on the divine truth that their sinful nature died and was removed from them through the power of Christ’s death on the cross. Therefore, an overcoming Christian is able to overcome the sin of the world and resist the devil, our adversary, by faith in Jesus Christ who sovereignly overcomes in them (See 1 John 4:4; 5:4; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7).
Church (Greek ekklesia): Assembly or congregation. The English word “church” is derived from the Greek word kuriakos, which means “to belong to the Lord.” However, in the New Testament, the word “church” is actually translated from the Greek word ekklesia, which means assembly or congregation (Matthew 16:18) and whose root meaning is “called out from.” Therefore, based on the Greek words kuriakos and ekklesia, we can say thatthe church consists of all people who belong to the Lord and have been called out from the world (see 2 Corinthians 6:16-18). In the New Testament, the word “church” or ekklesia is always used in reference to a gathering of Christ’s disciples and is never used in reference to a physical building. Jesus called the church, “My church (Matthew 16:18)” and said, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst (Matthew 18:20).” The New Testament also uses a number of other terms to describe the church, such as the family of God (Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 3:15); the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21-22); the priesthood of God (1 Peter 2:5 & 9); the body of Christ (Ephesian 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18); and the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7; 21:2). Another Greek word closely associated with church is koinonia, which means fellowship, communion and community. The Book of Acts records of the early church: “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread and to prayer… and all those who believed were together and had all things in common… and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart (Acts 2:42-46). Since Jesus Christ is the Messiah King, the church is the community of the King and serves as His ambassador and agent for the kingdom of God on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20; Revelation 1:5-6).
The church is founded upon God’s divine revelation of Christ (Matthew 16:15-18). More specifically, the foundation of the church rests on faith in Jesus Christ and His completed work on the cross (1 Corinthians 1:23; 2:2). For from His Son’s death and resurrection, God created a new man in His Son’s image; a people who no longer have a sinful nature but who have Christ’s holy nature; the church, which is the body and bride of Christ, destined to fulfill God’s eternal purpose (Romans 6:3-11; Ephesians 1:9-11; 4:10). The Bible says that Jesus Christ is not only the cornerstone and foundation of the church (1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20), Christ is the head of the church, which is His body (Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23; Colossians 1:18; 2:19), and Christ is the divine life of the church (John 14:6; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4). The Bible says that when the body of Christ, the church, stays connected to its head, Jesus Christ, it is supplied and held together by the joints (of fellowship) and ligaments (of ministry) and grows as God causes it to grow (Colossians 2:19; 3:14; Ephesians 4:3; Philippians 2:12). Thus the church is not a club or a building or an organization, the church is Jesus Christ Himself in corporate human expression (Acts 9:4-5; Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12) and the mission of the church is to visibly manifest the fullness of Christ on the earth (Ephesians 1:22-23; 3:8-11; Colossians 1:27-28). In this regard, Jesus said that an important feature of the church’s mission was to “make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).”
The New Testament describes the church as both local and universal. In the universal sense, the church is global, encompassing all true believers living on the earth who are born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and the church is heavenly, encompassing all believers of all ages – both those living and “asleep.” “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God... to the church of the first born, whose names are recorded in heaven (Hebrews 12:22-23).” The New Testament indicates the church is 1) apostolic since she is founded on the apostles’ ministry and teaching concerning Jesus Christ and His crucifixion (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 1:22); 2) the church is holy since she is set apart and sanctified to God by Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross (Ephesians 1:4; 4:24: 5:25-27); and 3) the church is charismatic since the Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts (Greek charismata/Romans 12: 4-6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) to every believer so they can function together as a holy priesthood to God under Jesus Christ, their great high priest (1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 1:6).
The New Testament records that the local church in each community normally met in believers’ homes (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2) and when the local church grew too large to meet in a one home, it simply multiplied from “house to house (Acts 2:46; 5:42; 20:20).” When the local church reached a certain size and maturity, the apostles appointed mature brothers, called elders, to oversee and shepherd these house churches (Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4). The elders, who always functioned in plurality, were accountable as servant-shepherds to the chief shepherd, Jesus Christ, and were responsible for “equipping the saints (the priesthood of all believers) for the work of the ministry to the building up of the body of Christ… according to the proper working of each individual part (Ephesians 4:12 & 16).” With this in mind, the apostle Paul taught, “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you come together, each one has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church (1 Corinthians 14:26).” Thus the local church in the New Testament was to be a Christian community and spiritual family of brothers and sisters in Christ who “were of one heart and soul“ (Acts 4:32) and who looked to the head of their household, Jesus Christ, for wisdom and direction on all matters. When the church is properly submitted to Christ’s headship, the members of the body have a humility of heart that enables them to experience the blessed unity of the Spirit in the bonds of love and peace (Ephesians 4:3; Colossians 3:14; Philippians 2:1-5)
The Bible says that at the end of this age, the Lord Jesus Christ will return for a glorious and holy church (Ephesians 5:27). This is the bride of Christ who has overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Revelation 12:11) and who is dressed with white wedding garments (signifying her righteous deeds) ready for her marriage and eternal union to Jesus Christ, her divine royal bridegroom (Revelation 19:7-8).
Faith (Greek pistis): Faith is the sole basis for man’s relationship with God. Six centuries before Christ’s birth, God gave the prophet Habakkuk divine revelation that “the righteous will live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4).” This prophecy is fulfilled in the New Covenant where it provides the basis for the gospel. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes… for in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith (Romans 1:16-17; see also Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).’” The Greek word pistis in its various forms (faith, believe, belief, faithful, etc.) is used 600 times in the New Testament. Thus faith is the underlying theme of the New Covenant and the very foundation of the gospel. This is why the first Christians were called “believers” (Acts 2:44).
The Biblical definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” From a Biblical perspective, faith enables us to see God as He is and see things the way God sees them. “For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).” The Bible says that Moses “endured by seeing Him who is unseen (Hebrews 11:27).” And the apostle Paul wrote, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).” However, Biblical faith is not faith in faith for faith’s sake nor is it a “mind over matter” psychology of “whatever you believe, you can achieve.” That kind of so-called “faith” is actually hostile to the Holy Spirit because it promotes self-reliance rather than reliance on God. Biblical faith must be based solely on the revelation of God’s Word to us. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).”
In the New Covenant, all true faith comes from seeing the Lord Jesus Christ - who He is and what He has done on the cross. When Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven … and upon this rock I will build the church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:17-18).” Thus God’s revelation of Jesus Christ to us is the bedrock of our faith, the foundation of the gospel and the cornerstone of the church. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:6).” This is the only faith that God approves and rewards. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).” For example, when someone believes the word of God that Christ died for them (Romans 5:8), they will experience God’s deliverance from the penalty of sin. In the same way, when someone believes the word of God that they died with Christ (Romans 6:8), they will experience God’s deliverance from the power of sin. “Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:7).” Therefore, “the righteous will live by faith” means we live each day by trusting in the Person of Jesus Christ and in the full redemptive work He accomplished for us through His death on the cross. As the apostle Paul testified, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20).”
Faith is not mere intellectual assent to Christian doctrine. Saving faith must involve an act of our will by which we make a total and radical commitment to Jesus Christ as the Lord of our life. The Bible says we are saved only by our faith not by our works (Ephesians 2:5; Titus 3:15); however, after we are saved, our faith must produce works of obedience (James 2:20). “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (James 2:26).” This is why true faith always follows repentance, which is demonstrated by its deeds (Matthew 3:8). The apostle Paul exhorted that men “should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance (Acts 26:20).” And Jesus said, “Repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).” The Bible calls this “the obedience of faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26),” which is credited to us as righteousness (Romans 4:5 & 24). The apostle Paul testified of this obedience: “Not having a righteousness of my own derived by the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith (Philippians 3:9).” Romans 1:17 states that God’s righteousness is “a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.” Therefore, not only are we first saved by faith, but after we are saved, we must live by faith (and not by our self-effort). This does not mean we do not have works but that our works must always spring solely from faith in Jesus Christ and His completed work on the cross.
When we are saved, God allots to every believer “a measure of faith (Romans 12:3).” After we are saved, our daily faith is expressed by our acting in obedience to God and His Word. Every step of faith that we then take in obedience to God’s Word develops our faith and prepares us for the next step of obedience. The Bible says, “Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).” Just as faith is expressed in obedience to God’s Word, sin is expressed in unbelief and disobedience (Hebrews 3:18-19). “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did, but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard (Hebrews 4:2).” If we do not act in faith on the word that God has given us, the Bible says that even the word we have received will be taken away from us. However, if we act in faith on the word we have received, the Bible says that God will reveal more of Himself and His Word to us according to the measure we have heard and obeyed (Mark 4:23-25; John 14:21-23). As we continue to walk in the steps of obedience to God’s Word, our faith is tested, purified and perfected (1 Peter 1:6-7). “Know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete (James 1:3-4).” The Bible says faith that perseveres through trials and temptations bears much fruit (Luke 8:15). The fruit of mature faith is an unwavering trust in God’s love and faithfulness and intimately knowing Jesus Christ (Romans 5:3-5; Philippians 3:10-11). The outcome of the obedience of our faith (also called sanctification) is eternal life and eternal companionship with Christ our bridegroom (Romans 6:22: Revelation 21:2-3). As the apostle Peter wrote, “Obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:9).”
Justification (Greek dikaioma): To absolve or acquit of guilt and condemnation; to make right. Justification refers to our salvation in Christ. Justification is the divine act by which God frees us from His judgment and the just penalty of our sins because of His Son’s atoning death on the cross (see Romans 3:24, 26, 28; 5:16, 18; Galatians 2:16; 3:24). “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (Romans 4:25).” There is only one ground for justification – the cross of Christ. We are saved (justified) by our faith in Christ’s death on the cross. The Bible says “We have now been justified by His blood (Romans 5:9).” Therefore, justification or divine absolution and complete release from your sins are only yours when you are born again of the Spirit and “in Christ.” For God is “the One who justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).” If you are not in Christ, there can be no freedom from God’s judgment and condemnation (Romans 8:1). However, if you are in Christ, you are justified by your faith and have peace with God because of His Son’s sacrificial death on the cross. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand (Romans 5:1).”
Reconciliation (katallage): The word “reconciliation” is found only in the New Testament. Its verb form is katallasso or “to reconcile.” Within its Biblical context, katallasso means to restore man into union with God. The Book of Genesis records that God created Adam in His image to have fellowship with man. But instead of preserving his friendship with God, Adam disobeyed God and fell under Satan’s dominion. The Bible says that Adam’s rebellion against God affected the entire human race, which inherited Adam’s sin nature, and was then spiritually separated from Holy God. The Old Covenant and its Mosaic Law partially overcame man’s spiritual estrangement with God by providing a way for God’s people (the Hebrews) to have their sins forgiven (by the substitutionary sacrifice of lambs and other animals). However, they could not be completely reconciled to God under the Old Covenant because they still retained a sin nature. Therefore, what the Old Covenant was not able to accomplish (because of man’s sin nature), God accomplished through the New Covenant by His Son’s death on the cross (Romans 8:3). At the right time, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross not only to provide forgiveness for our sins, but also to deliver us from our sin nature, so that we could be fully reconciled to God. Since we were born into sin and were therefore sinners by nature, God’s plan of redemption was to spiritually include us in His Son’s death so that we could be freed from the power of sin. Thus the Bible says that God destroyed our sin nature when we were born again so that we could be reconciled to Him (Romans 6:3-11). When we received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God spiritually immersed us into Christ’s death in order to remove our sin nature, so that our spirit would be regenerated (reborn) and united with Christ’s Spirit. Consequently, the Bible says, “While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son… (for) whoever unites himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him (Romans 5:10; 1 Corinthians 6:17).” This is the miracle of our new birth, by which we have been reconciled (brought into union) with God. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, we see this twofold provision of Christ’s Atonement (forgiveness of our sins and removal of our sin nature) in order to reconcile us to God: “Therefore, if anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new being: his old being (his sinful nature) is gone, the new has come. Now all this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself through Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made Christ who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God through union with Him.”
Sanctification (Greek hagiasmos from the word hagios (holy)): to be made holy - to be separated from sin and separated to God. Whereas justification refers to our salvation in Christ; sanctification refers to our separation to God. Justification is the work of God through Christ, by which He declares us righteous to stand before Him; sanctification is the work of God through Christ, by which He makes us righteous in our character and conduct by conforming us to the image of His Son. God knew we needed forgiveness from the penalty of sin; He also knew we need deliverance from the power of sin. Therefore, by Christ’s death on the cross, God has forgiven our sins and replaced our sinful nature with His Son’s holy nature (see Romans 6:3-11; Galatians 2:20). This is why the Bible says, “Both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from of one Father (Hebrews 2:11).” In the New Testament, all true disciples are called “saints,” which is derived from the word “sanctified” and means “separated ones” or “holy ones.” The apostle Paul wrote, “To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours (1 Corinthians 1:2).”
Since we have been sanctified (separated) to God through Christ’s death (Acts 26:18; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30; 6:11), God now calls us to practice sanctification by faith in Christ and His completed work on the cross (1 Thessalonians 4:4, 7; 5:23; 2 Timothy 2:21). “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior (1 Peter 2:15).” For Christians, there are no exceptions to this call because “without sanctification no one can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).” The Bible says, “God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but to sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8).”
Sanctification is being separated from the love of the world in its many forms (1 John 2:15-17); sanctification is increasingly practicing complete obedience to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5); sanctification is allowing God to reveal and remove every soulish impurity from our life through the sanctifying fire and light of His Holy Spirit (Hebrews 4:12-13). Sanctification is carrying our own cross daily for Christ’s sake (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 14:27). Sanctification is putting off the old Adam way of sinful thinking, and putting on Christ’s new way of thinking (Romans 8:13; Ephesians 4:22-24). Sanctification is the spiritual fruit of Christ’s seed implanted in us at our spiritual birth (Romans 6:22). For a Christian, sanctification is not an option; it is absolutely essential. Our salvation did not depend on our sanctification but, after we are saved, our sanctification is the sole evidence that God recognizes which proves we have saving faith. Note: The spiritual fruit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 all stem and grow from the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of sanctification).
God can only use us as His vessels if we are walking in sanctification (2 Timothy 2:21). Jesus Christ wants to fellowship with us but He cannot unless we walk in sanctification (Matthew 7:21-23). God through Christ has freed us from sin so that we might walk in sanctification and receive our inheritance - eternal life. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life (Romans 6:22).” Therefore, without sanctification, no one can enter the kingdom of heaven and stand before God. The deeds of our sanctification are our wedding clothes and approved invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Without these bright clean and white (sanctified) wedding clothes, you cannot be joined to the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, for eternity (Matthew 22:11-13; Revelation 19:7-8).
There is only one ground for sanctification – the cross of Christ. Sanctification or separation from sin and separation to God is only yours when you are “in Christ.” Not only does God want us to be holy for His sake, but through His Son’s death, He has made it possible and practical for us to live holy for Him. Just as Christ bore our sins on the cross so that we might be completely justified in Him, He also bore our sinful nature on the cross so that we might be completely sanctified in Him. “Now may the God of peace sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).” Just as our salvation (our justification to God) depended solely on our faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross, our sanctification (our separation from sin and separation to God) also depends solely on our faith in Christ and His death on the cross. For when Christ died on the cross, He died not only to forgive us (justify us) from the penalty of our sins, He also died to free us (separate us) from the power of sin so that we might live to God. “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 5:11).”
To sum up, the only way we come into true sanctification is to be under Christ’s Sovereignty. It is impossible to be sanctified unless we are under Christ’s Sovereignty. And the only way we can truly be under Christ’s Sovereignty is if we spiritually know (believe and act) on the truth that we have died with Christ(and we no longer have a sinful nature). Therefore, understanding the spiritual meaning and power of Christ’s crucifixion is essential for any Christian who wants to live in victory over sin and know the Lord(and we no longer have a sinful nature). “For God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).”
Sin (Greek hamartia): From hamart: to miss the mark (of God’s righteousness). From a Biblical perspective, sin far exceeds man’s concept of self-centeredness. The essence of sin is a desire to be independent of God; therefore, all sin is ultimately sin against God Himself (Psalm 51:4). Sin is at the very core of unregenerate man’s inner being (Psalm 51:5). Sin is any attitude, thought, speech or behavior that fails to conform to God’s will, either by omitting to do what God’s Word requires or by doing what God’s Word forbids. The Bible defines sin as unrighteousness (1 John 5:17), disobedience (Hebrews 3:18-19; 4:6) and lawlessness against God (1 John 3:4). Sin is so evil that God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, had to die on the cross to save us from sin. The Bible says that sin springs from unbelief against God. “Whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).” The Bible declares that an unbelieving heart is an evil heart (Hebrews 3:12). The Bible says everyone has sinned against God. “There is none righteous, not even one… for all of have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10, 23).” The Bible says everyone who practices sin and does evil hates God and is separated from God (John 3:20; Hebrews 3:12; Isaiah 59:2). Because He is Holy, “the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3:12).” The root of sin and unbelief can be found in man’s pretention to be God. Instead of doing what is right in God’s eyes (Deuteronomy 21:9), every man does what seems right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). Sin is the rejection of God’s love, God’s truth, God’s holiness, and God’s Person. Whenever men lack the fear of God, sin will deceive and devour them (Proverbs 8:13; 16:16; Matthew 10:28; James 1:13-15). Ultimately, sin is spiritual anarchy and rebellion against God(Deuteronomy 9:7; Romans 8:7).
Sin is a condition of man’s unregenerated heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus said, “For from within, out of men’s hearts… come evil thoughts (Mark 7:20-23).” The Bible says men’s hearts are desperately sinful and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9) and that men are by nature children of wrath, which means they deserve the wrath of God for their sins (Ephesians 2:3). It is human nature to sin because the Bible says we were all born with a sinful nature (Romans 5:19; Psalm 51:5). This sinful nature is like a sin factory within man, which continually produces sinful thoughts and actions, even when they are cloaked and disguised with the trappings of outward morality. Everyone who has a sinful nature is in bondage to sin and not capable of doing God’s will (Romans 7:18-23). “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who have a sinful nature cannot please God (Romans 8:7-8).” The Bible says that, apart from Christ, everyone is spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned (Romans 5:12).” The Bible declares this to be a universal spiritual law that no man can escape: “The soul who sins will die (Ezekiel 18:4)” and “man is destined to die once and after that to face the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).” The Bible says that everyone “who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning (1 John 3:8).” The devil uses man’s sinful nature to control him and keep him captive to sin (2 Timothy 2:26). Everyone who persists in practicing sin is an enemy of God (Luke 19:27; James 4:4). The Bible says the consequences of sin are spiritual death, eternal separation from God, and eternal torment in hell (Romans 2:9-12; 6:23; Matthew 13:42, 50; James 1:15; Revelation 20:10).
Jesus said the work of the Holy Spirit is to “convict the world of sin… because men do not believe in Me (John 16:8-9).” The purpose of God’s Law is also to convict us of sin and lead us by faith to Christ (John 16:9; Romans 3:20; 7:7; Galatians 3:22-24). Sin can occur in thought (1 John 3:15), word (Matthew 5:22), or deed (Romans 1:32). Sin can be found not only in our actions but also in our inactions. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).” Sinful behavior (which the Bible also calls “deeds of the flesh”) can be expressed in two very different ways. The first way is obvious. “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like (Galatians 5:19).” But the second way is not as evident. “No wonder, for Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, is it not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (1 Corinthians 12:14-15).” Consequently, the sins of unbelievers, and even carnal Christians, can be obvious if they are practicing immorality; however, it can be hidden if they are practicing outward morality while they are inwardly lawless and unsubmitted to Christ. “The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after (1 Timothy 5:24).” Practicing outward morality (but not being truly submitted to Christ) is hypocritical and lawless. For example, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and secret sins: “On the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:28).“
Therefore, we were all separated from God because of our sinful nature and were destined to face God’s judgment and wrath and certain doom. But God in His great love and mercy sent His Son who offered to die in our place, so that we might live through Him. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16; see also 1 John 4:9).” The Bible teaches that the only antidote to sin is the cross of Christ. Only the sacrificial, atoning death of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who was perfectly sinless (Hebrews 4:15; 7:26), could save us from sin. The Bible says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him (Romans 5:8-9)!” John the Baptist declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)!” When Jesus Christ died on the cross for us, He died to set us free from both the penalty of sin and the power of sin. By Christ’s death on the cross, God dealt not only with our sinful deeds; He also dealt with our sinful nature. The Bible says that Christ not only died for our sins (Romans 5:8); we (that is, our sinful nature) also died with Him (Romans 6:8). Through the operation of the cross, God performed a divine heart transplant and exchanged our terminally sin-sick heart with His Son’s divine heart (Romans 6:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:11; 3:3-4). Our inner sinful nature, which was central to who we were and at the very core of our self-identity, actually died when we received Christ as our Lord and Savior. By delivering all those who receive Him from their sinful nature, Christ freed man from captivity to sin and destroyed the devil’s domination over man (1 John 3:8). Consequently, the Bible says, “No one who is born of God will continue to practice sin, because God’s seed (Christ) abides in him and he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9).”
Once we are born again and no longer have a sinful nature, God expects us to stop practicing sin (Romans 6:1-2; 1 Peter 1:15). If we continue to practice sin, it reveals that we are in ignorance, unbelief and disobedience concerning the power and provision of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection and that we do not truly know God (2 Timothy 3:5; 1 John 3:6). Jesus Christ also said that any Christian who habitually practices sin will not enter His kingdom even if they claim He is their Lord and even if they minister in His name (Matthew 7:21-23). The Bible says, “No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who continues to sin has seen Him or knows Him (1 John 3:6).”
As the Lord leads, we will periodically update this list of definitions.