To ancient Israel, the Lord issued a challenge. “I am the Lord your God,” He said. “Ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44, see also Leviticus 20:7).
In 1831, shortly after revealing “the law of the Church,” the Lord reissued this challenge. By following this law, He said, “Ye shall…be sanctified by that which ye have received, and ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me.” Then, He added, “Purge ye out the iniquity which is among you; sanctify yourselves before me” (Doctrine and Covenants 43:9, 11).
To be sanctified is to be made holy: pure, clean, and free from sin. We can only achieve that state through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. (See Mosiah 4:2-3.) Repentance is a critical part of that process.
A saint is a holy person, a person who has been sanctified. Perhaps the term is somewhat aspirational as we apply it to members of the church. We are not perfect. We are on a journey, and God is helping us to become more holy over time.
Alma explained the path to sanctification: Don’t harden your heart. Humble yourself, and choose to repent. Then, you are sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ and through the Holy Ghost. Your garments are washed white. You become pure and spotless before God. Sin becomes abhorrent to you. You enter “the rest of the Lord” (Alma 13:10-13).
Sanctification unlocks revelation. The Lord told Moroni that, when we exercise faith in Him and become sanctified, we will see the things the brother of Jared saw, “even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Ether 4:7). And Moroni ended the Book of Mormon with a plea for us to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness,” so that we can be “sanctified in Christ by the grace of God” (Moroni 10:32-33).
Sister Carol F. McConkie emphasized the deliberate effort we make as we strive to sanctify ourselves:
Holiness is in the striving and the struggle to keep the commandments and to honor the covenants we have made with God. Holiness is making the choices that will keep the Holy Ghost as our guide. Holiness is setting aside our natural tendencies and becoming “a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.” “Every moment of [our lives] must be holiness to the Lord.”“The Beauty of Holiness,” General Conference, April 2017
Today, I will strive for holiness. I will humble myself, repent, and ask God to help me “purge out the iniquity” from my life, so that I can become more holy.