Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Sanctify them through

thy truth:

thy word is truth. (Jn 17:17)

This statement is a part of Jesus’ prayer I have dubbed as “The Lord’s Prayer.”

He was praying specifically for His followers of that time, especially the apostles.

By extension, as we do with much of scripture, we also are able to apply this verse to ourselves; which is not wholly out of order. (Jn. 17:20)

This is one of those verses (among many) from which much insight is gained through the simple practice of emphasizing one word each time you say it.

Read the following out loud, emphasizing the bold word, to learn what I mean by that:
  • SANCTIFY them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 
  • Sanctify THEM through thy truth: thy word is truth. 
  • Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 
  • Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 
  • Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 
  • Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

If you are able to do that, and stop with each new sentence to meditate on the emphasized word, you will have more than fulfilled your “devotional requirement;” you will also have increased in understanding of a part of God’s word.

Hopefully, the rest of this article will help you in that quest.

SANCTIFY them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

What does SANCTIFY mean?

Most people are fairly sure it has something to do with being holy, and that would correct.

But, that leaves us with the question, “What does ‘holy’ mean?” We all know that “holy” is a religious term. It doesn’t have anything to do with business or with buying groceries or anything else outside of church.

Or, does it?

Yes, it does. It has a lot to do with every aspect of our lives.

Our English word “sanctify” means to set apart or declare holy; to consecrate.

The word that is translated such is γιζω (hagiázō, hag-ee-ad'-zo), the verb form of the word “holy” which is γιος (hágios, hag'-ee-os).

The entire word group—sanctify, sanctification, holy, holiness, saints—comes from this word.

Richard C. Trench, in his “Synonyms of the New Testament” writes:
“Its fundamental idea is separation, and, so to speak, consecration and devotion to the service of Deity…that what is set apart from the world and to God, should separate itself from the world’s defilements, and should share in God’s purity.”

Holiness, then, is to be separated from the world and to God.

Growing up Catholic, I was presented with the example of the priests and nuns, who had left ordinary life, wore religious attire, and dedicated themselves to God.

I later discovered that this was not the full meaning nor application of being holy.

God’s desire for each one of us, for you and for me, is that we be completely sanctified, spirit, soul and body. (1 Thess. 5:23)

This is where it gets a little bit tricky to understand God’s intents and purposes for and with us.

Notice that the verse quoted above is about God’s effort to sanctify us.

The word “sanctify” is only used six times in the NT. Four of those times it is about God doing something to us. In other words, we are sort of passive in the situation, allowing it to happen to us.

Only one of those tells us to do the action of sanctifying—
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1Pe 3:15)

With just this little bit of information, it would be easy to conclude that there is nothing required of us in the idea of sanctification.

That is a drastic, but all-too-common mistake.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Heb 12:14)
The word for “follow” is also the word most often translated “persecute.” So, holiness is something that we are to pursue hard after. It is to be one of our goals, if you will.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (2Co 6:17)
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2Co 7:1)
For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. (1Th 4:7)
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1Pe 1:15-16)
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, (2Pe 3:11)
Therefore, we ought to concern ourselves with holiness in our individual lives.

What does holiness look like?

All the attempts by men down through the ages to define what holiness should look like have fallen short of God’s standard, and produced a people who may have looked good on the outside, but on the inside had little to offer in the way of the “beauty of holiness.” (Matt. 23:27; Ps. 29:2)

The scriptures certainly give us examples and guidelines as to what we should look for in the pursuit of holiness. However, they are generally left in the realm of the general, rather than the specific—
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1Jo 2:15-16)

We will look at this more closely a little later as we continue to consider the verse—
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (Jn 17:17)

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