Under the Law of Moses, the Israelites offered 3 different kinds of offerings: sin offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings. Sin offerings represented the atonement. They were the means by which imperfect beings could regain worthiness to enter the presence of Jehovah. Burnt offerings were offered daily, to signify continued obedience and dedication. They were a symbol of sanctification/purification. Peace offerings were given when a man was already on good terms with the Lord and wanted to express joy and to receive a further blessing of peace. Peace offerings symbolized fellowship with the Lord.
Though I may take time to examine the others on another occasion, my focus today is on the burnt offerings and the notion of sanctification. It’s a topic I was researching today, trying to gather some thoughts for an essay I’m writing on the Atonement. “To be sanctified through the blood of Christ,” according to D. Todd Christofferson, “is to become clean, pure, and holy. If justification [atonement] removes the punishment for past sin, then sanctification removes the stain or effects of sin.”
Sanctification has also been equated with the baptism by the Spirit, or baptism by fire. In my New Testament class, we discussed how washing something with water will cleanse it of the large, noticeable impurities. Fire, however, consumes all impurity. Sanctification changes our nature and inner character. Alma describes those who were “sanctified by the Holy Ghost” and were “pure and spotless before God” by saying they “could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence” (Alma 13:12), just as those who heard King Benjamin had “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” because of the “Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which [had] wrought a mighty change in [their hearts]” (Mosiah 5:2).
The CES Student Manual for the Book of Mormon warns, however, that “even after a person has been sanctified and has felt cleansed by the Holy Ghost, he or she will continue to be tempted throughout mortality.” Sanctification does not mean we are free of the trials and temptations of this life. It does mean we will be able to handle those difficult times though. Alma teaches that we will be able to resist if we are humble, and “watch and pray continually, that [we] may not be tempted above that which [we] can bear” (Alma 13:28).
In the latter-days, we have been given similar counsel: “Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also” (D&C 20:33–34).
Though it may seem somewhat discouraging to know that we will never be exempt from temptation, there are great blessings in store for us when we do. James 1:12 is a verse that I have come to find very inspiring:
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath prepared for them that love him.