Sanctification – the Death Side

This is the will of God, your sanctification . . . ” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

I took this from Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest” devotional for July 22:

The Death Side. In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Sanctification requires our coming to the place of death, but many of us spend so much time there that we become morbid. There is always a tremendous battle before sanctification is realized-something within us pushing our resentment against the demands of Christ. When the Holy Spirit begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle starts immediately. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate … his own life … he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

In the process of sanctification, the Spirit of God wills strip me down until there is nothing left but myself, and that is the place of death. Am I willing to be myself and nothing more? Am I willing to have no friends, no father, no brother, and no self-interest–simply to be ready for death? That is the condition required for sanctification. No wonder Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us falter. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ on this point. We say, “But this is so strict. Surely He does not require that o me.” Our Lord is strict, and he does require that of us.

Am I willing to reduce myself down to simply “me”? Am I determined enough to strip myself of all that my friends think of me, and all that I think of myself? Am I willing and determined to hand over my simple naked self to God? Once I am, He will immediately sanctify me completely, and my life will be free from being determined and persistent toward anything except God (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

When I pray, “Lord, show me what sanctification means for me,” He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus puts in me–it is Himself in me (see 1 Corinthians 1:30).



  1. On the one hand, I love my wife and my children and my parents my brothers my friends. I have a passion for life in general particularly things like work, sports, competition, arts, nature, and culture. On the other hand, I must “hate” all of these things in comparison to my love and total commitment to Christ. I can see how sanctification is a process. It’s a constant struggle or battle between the two for me. Am I being too caught up in the world allowing life to come before God? I also have to be careful not to justify my love and passion for the things of this world with being a good follower of Christ. For instance, I am supposed to do everything in service to Jesus. So if I’m working hard at my job to be the best I’m serving Him. But at what point am I doing it for me and no longer to serve Him? But with each instance of that, I fine tune my existence in Christ.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Alex. Oswald Chambers actually had a two-part series on this in his devotional. I posted the 2nd part, “The Life Side” today. Irenaeus of Lyon once said, “the glory of God is man fully alive.” Meaning that God does take pleasure in life, in living, in being… Sin, at least in this sense, as the opposite process to sanctification, is man refusing to become fully alive; that is, fully what God intended for him or her to be. As Jesus said in one of his famous “i have come” passages, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” So, sanctification, in Oswald Chambers paradox involves both death and life, a process which Christ went through Himself. What things must I die to? What things must I be fully alive to?

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