[This is the first of a series on sanctification by Thomas Boston.]
1 CORINTHIANS 6:11.—But ye are sanctified—by the Spirit of our God.
IN this verse the apostle tells the believing Corinthians.
1. What some of them sometime were, such, viz. as those, ver. 9, 10. ‘fornicators, idolators, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners;’ even the worst and grossest sinners, who therefore could have nothing to move God to sanctify them.
2. What they now all were, viz. the true believers among them; they were ‘washed.’ Though some of them in their natural state were more unclean and vile than others, yet they all needed to be, and accordingly were washed,
(1.) In sanctification, whereby sin itself is gradually carried out of the heart and life, and grace planted therein, and actuated and advanced. This is done by the Spirit of God, who is holy, and makes the elect holy.
(2.) In justification, whereby the guilt of sin is removed, and the soul clothed with a perfect righteousness. This is done ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus;’ i. e. by the merits and blood of Christ, through Christ apprehended by faith. The apostle’s order of stating these two will be considered afterwards.
The doctrine of the text is as follows, viz.
DOCT. ‘All that are effectually called, are freely sanctified by the Spirit of Christ.’
In treating of this subject, I shall shew,
I. The general notion of sanctification.
II. More particularly inquire into the nature of it.
III. Deduce some inferences.
I. I will lay before you the general nature of sanctification. It imports three things.
1. Separation, or setting apart to a holy use or service.—Thus the bread and wine in the sacrament are sanctified, and thus Aaron and his sons were sanctified. And thus the sanctification of the Spirit, is the Lord’s taking one out of the corrupt mass of mankind lying in wickedness, and setting him apart for himself, Psal. 4:3. So that holiness is God’s mark and seal set on a soul, testifying it to be his in a peculiar manner, Eph. 1:13.
2. Purification, or taking away of pollution. Thus people are called to sanctify themselves. There is a natural impurity and filthiness that every soul naturally is sunk in, 2 Cor. 7:1. They are loathsome in the sight of God, all over defiled with filthy lusts. Sanctification is the Spirit’s cleansing of the soul from its impurities; breaking the reign of sin, working out sin from the heart and life, as the spring doth the mud cast into it.
3. Preparation, whereby a thing or person is made fit for use or service. Thus our food is sanctified by the word and prayer. Naturally we are unfit for God’s service; sanctification fits us for it, 2 Tim. 2:21. What use are we for in the world, if not for God? But the unsanctified soul is not meet for his use: but the Lord loathes them, and their services too, as one would do liquor in a foul vessel.
Boston, T. (1848). The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion, Part 1. (S. M‘Millan, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 653–654). Aberdeen: George and Robert King.