“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth,” John 17:17. The gospel of John lays a heavy emphasis upon “truth,” and is one of the most important themes that runs throughout the book.
In John 6:28-29 we read, “Then they asked Him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this; to believe in the one He has sent.” Our work, if we can call it that, is simply to believe that Jesus has come to save us from our sins, death and the power of Satan. And why should we believe? We believe because the gospel is true.
John 1:13 reminds us, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In John 3 Jesus is revealing what it means to be born again to Nicodemus. He goes on to say, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” (v. 20-21)
The difference between the follower of Jesus and a person who isn’t a follower has nothing to do with our sinfulness, but has to do with our willingness to bring sin into the light. To do evil is to hold on to sin so deeply that a person never wants to let it go, while a Christian understands their need and brings their sins before God.
To sanctify someone means to set the person apart for a sepcial calling. Jesus prayer for the disciples is that they are set apart for the proclamation of truth and the source of that truth is “the Word”. There is still more, however, going on in John 17:17 because the disciples are not only to proclaim truth but it is the very power in their life that sanctifies them. Sanctification by definition is the state of proper functioning. And what is the proper state of functioning for a Christian? It is to believe in the truth of God’s word in their life and live in harmony with the Gospel commission.
In the New Testament sanctification also has the meaning of “holiness.” Another word for holiness is “saint,” which means to be set apart or sanctified. 1 Peter 3:15 reads, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” To set Jesus apart in our hearts, or to love Him with all our hearts is to be sanctified.
Sanctification isn’t something we earn by good works or trying harder to overcome every sin in our life. “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:10 Verse 14 states, “For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made perfect.”
Sanctification is another gift from God, just like justification. We are declared justified and sanctified by the grace of Jesus Christ at Calvary’s cross. It has been said that sanctification or holiness is to love the things God loves and hate the things God hates. It is putting your whole trust in God for Jesus is truth. “To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
The truth sanctifies us according to the Word (John 17:17), and we know that truth that sets us free from sin and death when we believe the teachings of the Gospel. To be sanctified is to put our lives into the hands of God and allow Him to lead and guide us. It is trusting Him through the storms of life and trusting Him throughout it all.
Even our ability to trust is a gift of God that comes through the Holy Spirit, “But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father He will bear witness to me,” John 15:26 And the Spirit of truth guides us into all truth, “When the Spirit of truth comes He will guide you into all the truth,” John 16:13 with the result we “will know the truth” (John 17:8)
Sanctified people are called to be disciples who teach the truth of Jesus Christ and His forgiving grace to a lost world. The reason that disciples proclaim the Gospel is because we know it is true. We trust God.
When we make sanctification all about ourselves and our war on sin we are bound to fail because we have taken our eyes off Jesus and put them on our performance. Being a Christian stops being about worship and ministry and becomes about getting yourself into Heaven through being good enough or doing enough to please God and somehow so impress Him that He has to save you. No. Sanctification is about loving people and ministering to them because Jesus loves people. It is about focusing our eyes on Jesus and letting God make the transformations in our lives as He sees fit.
Overcoming all known sin in our lives does not sanctify us, we are sanctified through truth that springs from the Word of God and permeates our lives to such an extent that our hearts belong to Jesus.
* Folks, the persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…