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Twelve Propositions on Sanctification

J.C. Ryle defines sanctification as “an inward spiritual work which the Lord Jesus Christ works in a man by the Holy Ghost, when He calls him to be a true believer.” In his classic work Holiness, he lays out twelve propositions concerning sanctification.

  • It is a result of your union with Christ. “The branch which bears no fruit is no living branch of the vine. The faith which has not a sanctifying influence on the character is no better than the faith of devils.”
  • It is a necessary consequence of your regeneration. “Where there is no sanctification there is no regeneration.”
  • It is the only certain evidence that you have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit. “The seal that the Spirit stamps on Christ’s people is sanctification.”
  • It is the only sure mark that you have been elected by God. “Elect men and women may be known and distinguished by holy lives.”
  • It is a reality that will always be visible. Your “sanctification will be something felt and seen, though [you yourself] may not understand it.”
  • It is a reality for which every believer is responsible. “Believers are eminently and peculiarly responsible and under a special obligation to live holy lives.”
  • It requires growth and is present in differing degrees. “A man may climb from one step to another in holiness and be far more sanctified at one period of his life than another.”
  • It depends greatly on your diligent use of the ordinary means of grace. “He will never bless the soul of that man who pretends to be so high and spiritual that he can get on without [the means of grace].”
  • It does not necessarily prevent you from having a great deal of inward spiritual conflict. “A true Christian is one who has not only peace of conscience, but war within.”
  • It cannot justify you, yet it genuinely pleases God. “The Bible distinctly teaches that the holy actions of a sanctified man, although imperfect, are pleasing in the sight of God.”
  • It will be found absolutely necessary as a witness to your character on the great Day of Judgment. “It will be utterly useless to plead that we believed in Christ unless our faith has had some sanctifying effect and been seen in our lives.”
  • It is necessary in order to train and prepare you for heaven. “We must be saints before we die if we are to be saints afterwards in glory.”