Sanctification is that inward spiritual work which Jesus Christ works in a man by the Holy Spirit, when He calls him to be a true believer, separates him from his natural love of sin and the world, puts a new principle in his heart, and makes him practically godly in life.
Sanctification is the only certain evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Spirit never lies dormant within the soul. He makes His presence known by the fruit He produces. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Where these things are found, there is the Spirit. Where these things are lacking, men are dead before God.
The Spirit is compared to the wind, and, like the wind, He cannot be seen by our eyes. But just as we know there is a wind by the effect it produces on waves, trees, and smoke, so we may know the Spirit is in a man by the effects He produces in the man’s conduct.
Where there is no holy living there is no Holy Spirit. The seal that the Spirit stamps on Christ’s people is sanctification. As many as are actually led by the Spirit of God, they, and they only, are the sons of God (Romans 8:14).
Sanctification is also the only sure mark of God’s election. The names of the elect are a secret thing, which God has wisely kept to Himself. But if there is one thing clearly laid down about election, it is that elect men and women may be known by holy lives. He that boasts of being one of God’s elect, while he is habitually living in sin is only deceiving himself.
Of course it is hard to know what people really are. Many make a fair show outwardly in religion who may turn out at last to be rotten-hearted hypocrites. But where there is not, at least, some appearance of sanctification, we may be quite certain there is no election.~J. C. Ryle
Fruit shows. Fresh or rotten. It shows.