Sanctification always accompanies justification. This is the purpose of redemption, Ephesians 5:26: That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. This is the work of the Spirit, 1 Peter 1:2: Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
We can go as far as to say that if sanctification is not taking place in a person's life there is no evidence for claiming salvation. Whom Christ saves, the Spirit sanctifies!
This inward work of sanctification leads to outward separation from the world. The apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:15,16: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
The inherent meaning within the word 'sanctify' is to set apart. Hence the repeated references to the people of God being a separated people:
1. Old Testament teaching: Exodus 33:16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth;
2. New Testament teaching: 2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
The literally meaning of the Greek word for 'Church' is 'called out'. The church are therefore called out ones - the separated ones. We are in the world but not of the world!
This was the primary purpose of the civil law given to Israel in the Old Testament. All those precepts in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy that many people so often mock were designed by God to visibly teach the truth of sanctification and separation.
Consider three successive verses:
Sanctification/separation maintains the purity and distinctiveness of the people of God. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, the Scriptures teach. If we let into our lives, or into our witness for Christ, that which is not of God then it will soon spread through everything weakening and ultimately destroying that witness for Christ.
Sanctification/separation is a positive thing. Its enemies seek to caricature it as being negative and a not wanting to be inclusive. This is the great cry of our times! However, in practicing sanctification/ separation we are going unto Christ for He practices separation, Hebrews 12:12-14. Christ is without the camp and that is where He would have His people.
These general principles of sanctification/separation are to be found in the life of the Nazarite:
1. The Nazarite was to be separate from all uncleanness. Numbers 6:3 He shall separate himself from… There is that which a Bible believer must leave behind. Before there can be any separation unto, there must first be separation from.
There has to be a putting out of our lives, before there can be a bringing of other things into our lives, 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2. The Nazarite was to be separate unto God. This passage speaks of the separation of the Nazarite unto the Lord. This is repeated in v5,6,8,12. It is a consecration of heart unto the Lord.
The Nazarite and the laws that governed their lives are a visible illustration of this truth of sanctification/ separation, Numbers 6:2.
There are three specific areas where the principle of separation is to apply in the Christian's life as illustrated in the life of the Nazarite:
Each one of these three particulars are emphasised in turn in the lives of each of the three Nazarites mentioned in the Bible:
1. Samson - Our affections. Judges 13:5 …for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb… The record speaks of Samson marrying a Philistine; taking the honey from the carcass of the lion. We are also familiar with him setting his affections upon the harlot in Gaza and also loving Delilah, who was also a Philistine. These are all issues that relate to affections.
2. Samuel - Our appearance. In praying for a son Hannah dedicates him unto the Lord emphasising that he will be a Nazarite and highlighting the fact that no razor will touch his head, 1 Sam 1:11 …I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
3. John the Baptist - Our associations. Among a number of things peculiar to John the Baptist was those he refused to associate himself with. He distanced himself from the dead religion of the Scribes and Pharisees, calling them a generation of vipers. He was the voice of one on his own crying in the wilderness.
We will take a closer look at these three areas of separation in a Christian's life.