Jesus prayed for his disciples in John 17. They were those who already knew him, were in a personal relationship with him, and those who believed in Him. He prayed to God His Father, “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth. . . For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (v 17,19).
So if you are like me for so many years and until recently, I had no idea what the word “sanctify” meant. It was one of those holy, Christian words I just skipped over and assumed from context clues the meaning instead of dwelling on and understanding the depth of it.
According to footnotes in my NIV bible, “sanctify” comes from the Hebrew word “Hagiazo” which means “to make holy, to set apart for sacred use.” In a Francis Chan study I recently completed he described sanctification as becoming more like Christ. That explanation helped me to grasp what the big word meant. Christ is holy and the process of becoming more like him is sanctification which leads to our holiness. Now, it is important to understand that we are bottom line, truly sanctified by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and blood shed to cover our sins. HE made us holy without us having to do anything except believe in him as our savior. However, we become FURTHER sanctified in certain ways.
As in the Francis Chan study we completed with our small group, marriage is one of the best means of sanctification. In other words, marriage tests you and challenges you in some of the hardest ways but if you commit to Christ and walking through those trials in a Christ like way, you will become more like Him and thus more sanctified. Such can be true with relationships, suffering, trials and anything that requires you focus on Jesus, follow God’s truth, go to the word for guidance, and be led by Christ’s example to get through it.
In John 17:17 Jesus prays to God for his disciples and says, “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth.” In other words, By following God’s commands and Christ’s teaching and living by God’s truths and His word, we become sanctified. Guidance these ways leads to us being sanctified because by pursuing these things, we are pursuing Christ. By living by these precepts, we become more Christ like. We become more holy. In John 17:19 Jesus prays to God for his disciples and says, “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” In other words, we are made holy by Jesus who is holy.If we weren’t sanctified or made holy by Jesus, we could never enter into the eternal presence of our holy God.
If we weren’t sanctified or made holy by Jesus, we could never enter into the presence of our holy God.
The bottom line is we are sanctified though Jesus’ blood, period. BUT we are made further like Christ (sanctified) the more we become like him. Hebrews 10:10 reminds us, “and by that will, we have all been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.” If we were the Pope or Mother Teresa that still wouldn’t be holy enough. If we lived a perfect life and were a good person, kind to everyone with our life devoted to service, that STILL would not be enough to step into God’s holy presence. The ONLY thing that can make us holy enough because he is JUST THAT holy is Jesus. The obedient death of holy Jesus to cover our lack of holiness is the only hope we have against eternal separation from God.
We are all sinners and in need of a savior to be made holy so that we can enter into the eternal presence of God for eternity. Without Jesus as our substitution, our atonement, and our mediator, we could never make ourselves holy enough or sanctified enough. We are POWERLESS on our own! However once we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, “We are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
After we surrender our lives and receive the bottom line sanctification through Jesus’ payment, life is a journey of discovering and living out God’s truths and being guided by His word. Jesus prayed to God for sanctification for his own disciples and this is his will for us as well—to not only be sanctified by entering into a relationship with Him but be further sanctified by His word and truths. Our joy is made complete when Jesus, His truths, & His words are pursued indefinitely. While praying these for the disciples and their sanctification, Jesus said, ” …but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” (John 17:13). The pressure is off, but the challenge and call is on.