John Gill, Extracts

On Sanctification

By John Gill (1697-1771)

To which of the Divine Persons is the sanctification of the believer attributed?

(1) God the Father, by electing love. There is a sanctification which is more peculiarly ascribed to God the Father; and which is no other than his eternal election of men to it: under the law, persons and things separated and devoted to holy uses, are said to be “sanctified”; hence those who are set apart by God for his use and service, and are chosen by him to holiness here and hereafter, are said “to be sanctified by God the Father” (Jude 1:1).

(2) God the Son, by justifying grace. There is a sanctification also that is more peculiar to Christ the Son of God; not only as he is the representative of his people, and is “holiness to the Lord” for them; which the high priest had upon his forehead, who was a type of him, and the representative of Israel; and as he has the whole stock of grace and holiness in his hands, which is communicated to the saints as is necessary; and as the holiness of his human nature, is, with his active and passive obedience, imputed to their justification, and so makes a part of that; hence he is said to be made to them “sanctification” (1 Cor. 1:30), but as the expiation of their sins is made by his blood and sacrifice; this is called a sanctification of them; “Jesus, that he might sanctify the people with his blood, suffered without the gate” (Heb. 13:12).

(3) God the Spirit, by effectual power. But there is another sanctification, which is more peculiar to the Holy Spirit of God, and is called “the sanctification of the Spirit” (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:2) and this is the sanctification to be treated of.

What is the nature of the Spirit’s sanctification of the believer?

It is something that is “holy”, both in its principle and in its actings; and is superior to anything that can come from man, or be performed by him of himself.

(1) Not a conformity to the law of nature. It does not lie in a conformity to the light of nature, and the dictates of it;

(2) Not the exercise of moral virtue. Nor is it what may go by the name of moral virtue, which was exercised by some of the heathen philosophers to a very great degree, and yet they had not a grain of holiness in them; but were full of the lusts of envy, ambition, pride, revenge, &c.

(3) Not the bare external conformity to the law of God. Nor does it lie in a bare, external conformity to the law of God; or in an “outward reformation” of life and manners; this appeared in the Pharisees, to a great degree, who were pure in their own eyes, and thought themselves holier than others, and disdained them, and yet their hearts were full of all manner of impurity.

(4) Not the restraining of grace. Nor is what is called “restraining grace”, sanctification; persons may be restrained by the injunctions of parents and masters, by the laws of magistrates, and by the ministry of the word, from the grosser sins of life; and be preserved, by the providence of God, from the pollutions of the world, and yet not be sanctified.

(5) Not the gifting of an individual. Nor are “gifts”, ordinary or extraordinary, sanctifying grace; Judas Iscariot, no doubt, had both, the ordinary gifts of a preacher, and the extraordinary gifts of an apostle, and yet not a holy man. Gifts are not grace; a man may have all gifts, and all knowledge, and speak with the tongue of men and angels, and not have grace; there may be a silver tongue where there is an unsanctified heart!

(6) Not the restoration of the lost image of Adam. Nor is sanctification a restoration of the lost image of Adam, or a reparation and an amendment of that image marred by the sin of man; or a new vamping up the old principles of nature:

Sanctification is something entirely new; a new creature, a new man, a new heart, and a new spirit; and the conformity of a man to another image, even to the image of the second Adam, the Son of God.

What is the difference between the Old Man and the New Man?

Some make sanctification to lie in the deposition, or putting off, of the old man, and in the putting on of the new man. This has a foundation in the word of God (Eph. 4:22, 24) and belongs to sanctification, and may be admitted, if understood of the actings of it, as these are, which suppose a previous principle from which they arise.

(1) The Old Man. By the “old man”, is meant corrupt nature; which is as old as a man is in whom it is, and which he brings into the world with him; and by the putting of it off, is not meant the removal of it from him; for it continues with him, even with a sanctified person, as long as he is in the world; nor any change in the nature of it, which always remains the same; much less a destruction of it, which will not be till this earthly house is dissolved: but a dispossession of it, of its power, a displacing it from its throne, so as not to yield obedience to the lusts of it; nor walk according to the dictates of it; nor have the conversation according to it.

(2) The New Man. By the new man, is meant the new principle of grace and holiness, wrought in the soul in regeneration: and by the putting on of that, the exercise of the several graces of which it consists; see Colossians 3:12, 13.

How is the believer to treat the Old Man and the New Man?

Others distinguish sanctification, into “vivification” and “mortification”: and both these are to be observed in sanctification.

(1) Vivification. Sanctification, as a principle, is a holy, living principle, infused; by which a man that was dead in trespasses and sins, is quickened; and from whence flow living acts; such as living by faith on Christ; walking in newness of life; living soberly, righteously, and godly: all which belong to sanctification.

(2) Mortification. And there is such a thing as mortification; not in a literal and natural sense, of the body, by fasting, scourging, &c. Nor is it the abolition of the body of sin, by the sacrifice of Christ; nor the destruction of the principle and being of sin in regenerate and sanctified persons; for though they do not live in sin, yet sin lives in them, and is sometimes very active and powerful: but the weakening of the power of sin, and a mortification of the deeds of the body, and of the members on earth; so that a course of sin is not lived in, but men are dead unto it; and to which the Spirit of God, and his grace, are necessary (Col. 3:5; Rom. 8:13).

Jared Smith is revamping John Gill’s Body of Divinity—the outline of this portion of Gill’s chapter on Sanctification is borrowed from his unpublished work.