The common teaching today is that a person who is "sanctified" is spiritually perfect — that he is incapable of sinning! But, is that the true meaning of "sanctification"?
"Sanctification" is glibly called an "experience" or a "second work of grace," and it always must follow what is called the "justification" of the individual. It is further contended that this experience removes the "Adamic nature," or the "nature of sin."
Is this what the Bible teaches?
First, notice the definition of "sanctification":
It means "to consecrate to a sacred office or calling," to "separate from common use", "to devote or dedicate to God's service," according to the Biblical and English dictionaries. That means that any person who is set apart for a holy use or purpose is sanctified. But that does not mean that person cannot sin!
Notice what your Bible says in I Corinthians 7:14: "For the UNBELIEVING HUSBAND is SANCTIFIED by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband...." Even an unbeliever can be sanctified!
Notice again what Scripture reveals about sanctification: "Before I formed thee in the belly," said God to Jeremiah, "I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations" (Jer. 1:5).
Did you grasp that? Jeremiah was sanctified before he was born! He was set apart to a special office — that is what sanctification means — sanctified for the office of prophet to the nations.
The first letter of Paul to the Corinthians certainly makes the question plain. The apostle wrote this Epistle to those who were "sanctified" (I Cor. 1:2), yet we find that the Corinthians were puffed up, carnal, full of sin. They had Jealousy and strife and fornication in their midst. They were arrogant and refused to acknowledge their sins — just as many today who falsely claim to be sanctified are spiritually proud and arrogant! Paul found it necessary to have the individual involved in fornication removed from their midst (I Cor. 5).
Those people certainly had the nature of sin. Their "Adamic nature" certainly was not removed. And certainly the unbelieving mates — who were also sanctified — were set apart for the high calling of becoming members of the God family. It was after they were sanctified — and after Paul's stern rebuke that the Corinthians began to overcome sin.
God sanctifies us, or sets us apart today for His holy use when He calls us into His Church. We then begin to develop spiritually. So that we continue to develop, God separates us — or sanctifies us — from the sinful customs of the world. "Come out from among them and be ye separate!" But that does not mean we suddenly become perfect! Not at all. If, after we have been sanctified, we continue to overcome the pull of sin in our human nature and continue faithfully to the end of life, God will grant us eternal life in a world free from sin. Not until the resurrection — when we are born again as spirit Sons of God — will we be absolutely sinless.
No wonder Paul wrote: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do [Yet Paul was sanctified or set apart for a very high calling].... O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God [that I will be delivered] through Jesus Christ our Lord..." (Rom. 7:18, 19, 24, 25). That deliverance Paul will receive when Christ returns at the time of the resurrection!