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What does the Bible mean by ‘sanctification’? Is that different from salvation?

Answering the question about sanctification requires us to read how the Bible says it is obtained. According to 1 Corinthians 1:2, we are sanctified in Christ.

to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their {Lord} and ours. (1 Cor. 1:2)

This indicates that we do not do anything to become sanctified, but this is accomplished by Christ. Like salvation, which we could not earn or deserve, sanctification was completed on the cross. Now, the question of when this takes place, we look again to what the Bible says.

And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build {you} up and to give {you} the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32)


…to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me. (Acts 26:18)


And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:11)

The verses contain a past tense, indicating that this has already happened. If this has taken place in the past, it can not keep happening over and over. The verses do not say that we will be sanctified, rather that we have been. Just like salvation, sanctification takes place because of Christ. We know that in Christ, it took place at the cross. It took place for us there because the Bible tells us that we were crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20).