ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION or CHRISTIAN PERFECTION
As Taught in the Greek New Testament
by Jesse Morrell
It is interesting that these verses all say that believers “are sanctified” in the perfect tense (Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 1:2; Heb. 2:11; Heb. 10:10; Jude 1:1).
DEFINITION OF PERFECT TENSE: “The perfect tense in Greek corresponds to the perfect tense in English, and describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated. Jesus’ last cry from the cross, TETELESTAI (“It is finished!”) is a good example of the perfect tense used in this sense, namely “It [the atonement] has been accomplished, completely, once and for all time.”” (Blueletterbible.com)
The word in these passages is “ἁγιάζω” and it means to be consecrated or dedicated to God. The use of the perfect tense means that believers have been completely sanctified or that their sanctification has been accomplished completely.
All true believers are completely devoted to God in their hearts. If you are not entirely devoted to God, you are not serving God at all. You cannot serve two masters. You are either serving God or serving the devil – entirely sanctified or totally depraved. There is no middle ground.
If sanctification were a present or ongoing process the New Testament would not have used the perfect tense in these verses or at least would have used the imperfect tense to express that a durative process had taken place.
What is the basis, I wonder, for the idea of a progressive sanctification instead of an entire sanctification as these verses clearly indicate to me? How can a person be partially dedicated to God or partially consecrated? It is all or nothing. A person is sanctified or they are unsanctified, holy or unholy, dedicated or not. These verses do not teach that believers “are slowly being sanctified” in a on-going life-long process, but that they have been definitely sanctified completely in the past. It speaks of the believers sanctification as something that has come to completion hence the use of the Greek perfect tense.
1 Cor. 6:11 uses the aorist tense to say that believers “are sanctified” but it also uses the aorist tense in that verse to say that believers “are justified.” So just as justification is spoken of as a past event that is completed and not an ongoing event, so also is sanctification spoken of as a past event that is completed and is not an ongoing event.
Heb. 10:14 uses the present tense to say that believers “are sanctified” but that, as I understand it, means that they are presently sanctified. If a person says, “I am sanctified” they are speaking in the present tense in regards to something that has occurred or is completed.
What exactly would a progressive sanctification look like? This year you repent of fornication and then maybe next year you repent of lying? And then the next year you repent of another sin? As I understand it, when you truly repent you repent of all the sins you are involved in. Now, if a believer returns to their sins they are for the time being impenitent and need to repent and be justified and sanctified again. But you cannot be justified and sanctified while you are impenitent or in sin. Sanctification, like justification, is lost when you backslide and needs to be restored afresh through fresh repentance. But as long as a person remains a Christian (Christ-like) they are and must be entirely sanctified (completely devoted to God).
It is very interesting that when the Bible calls Christians “Saints,” it uses the Greek adjective “ἅγιος” (holy) in the substantive or as a noun. So when the Bible says be ye “holy” and when it says Christians are “Saints,” it uses the same exact word. The command to be holy is the command to be a Saint. And calling a believer a Saint is calling a believer holy. All throughout the New Testament believers are called “Saints,” but never “sinners.” Also notice the similarity between the word “sanctified” (ἁγιάζω), the word holiness (ἁγιασμός) and the word “holy” or “saint” (ἅγιος).
ἁγιάζω is a verb from the root word ἅγιος.
I. most holy thing, a saint
I. to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow
II. to separate from profane things and dedicate to God
a. consecrate things to God
b. dedicate people to God
III. to purify
a. to cleanse externally
b. to purify by expiation: free from the guilt of sin
c. to purify internally by renewing of the soul
And so you become ἅγιος (a holy Saint) by being ἁγιάζω (sanctified).
The Bible says, “He that committeth sin is of the devil” 1 John 3:8. Notice that in the Greek it reads thus: “ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστὶν.” The word “ποιῶν” is the present, active, participle form of “ποιέω.” The use of the present tense means “he that is currently committing sin is of the devil.”
And 1 John 3:9 reads thus: “πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἁμαρτίαν οὐ ποιεῖ.” Notice here that the stem word “ποιέω” is in this form “ποιεῖ” for the present, active, indicative. That means that that whoever is born of God is not presently sinning.
The fact is, those Calvinists and others who deny the attainability of entire sanctification in this life are undermining the work of Christ and the power of His gospel and grace. Instead of bringing up their experience to the truths of the Bible they seek to twist the Bible and bring it down to the level of their miserable and wretched experience. The Bible is clear that true Christians are holy saints who are living wholly sanctified lives.