We know that the word sanctify is related to the word saint, and is directly related in the original biblical languages to the word for “holy.” So, sanctification means being made holy. God has planned for us to be made holy.
Holiness is a unique attribute among the attributes of God. God has many wonderful attributes—love, power, wisdom, and so forth—but all those have a quality that we could say is remotely reflected in human beings. We have experienced love from human beings. We know of those who are powerful. We have met human beings who are wise. Of course, these qualities appear in humans to a degree immeasurably less than they do in God, but at least we have an idea of what these qualities are. But when we talk about holiness, there is nothing else to compare it to. God is uniquely holy.
Holiness is something that is not found outside of God. Really, in some ways you can measure how much you know God by how much you know holiness. I relate it this way: We thank God for His goodness, we praise God for His greatness, but we worship God for His holiness. Worship is the response to the holiness of God.
In the Old Testament, God said, “You shall be holy; for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44), and, in the New Testament, Peter restated the Lord’s words, saying, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Yet two different ways of attaining holiness were being referred to. I will compare these two ways—one by the old covenant, and the other by the new covenant—over the next few days.