Sanctification & Holiness

This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.

What is the Assemblies of God belief about sanctification, and how does it differ from other churches?

The basic idea of sanctification is that of separation or setting apart. In the Bible the words sanctification and holiness are interchangeable. At the time a person receives Christ, he is sanctified (1 Corinthians 1:30; 6:11), which means he has been separated from his past life of sin and is now dedicated to God. From Scripture we find that the Holy Spirit is the One who sanctifies (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Peter 1:2).

We believe the Bible is clear in teaching that Christians should continue living a life separated from sin and dedicated to God because, as the apostle Paul tells us, this is His will for them (2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). We call this the progressive aspect of sanctification. The Scriptures speak of it in a variety of ways, such as growing in grace (2 Peter 3:14) and being gradually transformed spiritually (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The purpose of the sanctification process is that believers might become more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though Christians may not attain absolute perfection in this life, they are expected to make every effort to live a holy life, because "without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

Some churches teach that sanctification is a one-time experience that takes place after a person has become a Christian, at which time he is made perfect. The Assemblies of God teaches that sanctification takes place at the moment of salvation and then progresses as the believer continues to submit to the control of the Holy Spirit.

The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching. The official delineation of this position is found in Statement of Fundamental Truths, Section 9.

All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.