August 4: School & Family Catechist – WSC Q. 35

A particularly timely question in our day.

by Rev. William Smith

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 35

Q.35. What is sanctification?

A. Sanctification is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby we are renewed in the whole man, after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.


Work of God’s Spirit. –Sanctification is called the work of God’s Spirit, because it is done gradually, or is a work of time, in which respect it differs from justification, which is called an act, because it is made perfect at the very first.

Renewed. –Made anew, or changed from the love and the practice of sin, to the love and the practice of holiness.

Whole man. –That is, our thoughts, memory, will, affections, and all our faculties.

After the image of God. –This means that, by the work of sanctification, we are made, by degrees, in some measure to resemble God himself, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness.

To die unto sin. –To forsake, or to cease from sin, both in heart and life.

To live unto righteousness. –To love and to practice holiness, in our thoughts, in our words, and in all our actions.


The information here given respecting sanctification, may be divided into six parts :

  1. That it is a work of God’s Spirit. –2 Thess . ii. 13. God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit.
  2. That by this work we are renewed in the whole man. –Eph. iv. 23. Be renewed in the spirit of your mind. –1 Thess. v. 23. The God of peace sanctify you wholly.
  3. That we are renewed after the image of God. –Eph. iv. 24. And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
  4. That by this work of the Spirit, we are enabled to die unto sin. –Rom. vi. 2. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
  5. That by it we are also enabled to live unto righteousness. –1 Pet ii. 24. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness.
  6. That this dying to sin, and living to righteousness, is accomplished gradually, “more and more.” –Rom. vi. 6. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed. –2 Cor. iv. 16. Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.


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