by Olu Talabi (based on RLCF Bible Study on February 24, 2016)
“Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” – John 17:17
Sanctification is a word most believers are familiar with; yet, the faithful, continual experience of the work of sanctification is quite a different matter. Sanctification means to be set apart. Further, it includes being consecrated unto. Clearly there are many things to be set apart from (the world, sin, our flesh, etc.), but the primary One to whom we must be wholly consecrated is God Himself.
In John 17:17, our Lord prays to the Father that He (the Father) would sanctify us; but consider verse 19 where Jesus declares that He Himself undertook sanctification for our sakes. What a selfless act Jesus again portrays here: even His sanctification went beyond Himself and extended out for our own good. This must be an additional desire for our seeking to be sanctified: that others may profit and draw nearer to the Lord through the work of sanctification in us.
Unlike in the Law and old covenant where the work of transformation largely affected the external, the Lord Jesus demonstrated and showed that the work of sanctification must begin from the inside, leading to our external conduct and way of life (Mathew 15: 1-20). A mere reformation of the outside, without the cleansing from inside, will always fall short of God’s aim in sanctification.
We must seek sanctification from the world (2 Corinthians 6:17), from the things of darkness and the flesh (1 Peter 2:9), our old life (2nd Corinthians 5:17), among other things. Our consecration is to God, Who chose us for Himself before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). And if we must be consecrated to the Lord, we necessarily must consecrate and devote ourselves to all that belongs to Him, primarily His body, the Church. Our sanctification must have its eye toward the profiting of others and not just ourselves (And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth- John 17:19)
We cannot overstate the importance of the Word in our sanctification. Jesus states this in His prayer in John 17:17. Jesus Christ is the Word. In the Old and New Testaments, we must see Jesus lest we fall short of the goal of sanctification. He is the end of our sanctification.
By the Word we are washed and made clean (John 15:3, Ephesians 5:26); by it our minds are renewed in seeing all things in light of God’s desire (Romans 12:2)
Let us look to Jesus, the completion of our sanctification; He is the standard. The culmination of our sanctification is this: …as He is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17)