“Sanctify them through thy truth: Thy word is truth. As Thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me” (John 17:17-21).
Here is another important consideration for the need of sanctification in our lives. It is impossible to truly be one with Christ without it. It is the only way in which we can walk with Him in holiness.
Cleansed and Sanctified
In John 15:3 the Lord said to His disciples, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you,” but later in John 17 He prays, “Father, sanctify them.” The word “clean” has the meaning “to be washed,” while “sanctify” means “to be made holy.” There are several other verses in the New Testament where this difference is seen. For example:-
2 Timothy 2:21 … “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” The first word is the same as used in John 15, and the second is found in John 17.
2 Corinthians 7:1 … “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.” As Christians we have been cleansed from sin, but we must go on in Christ and allow Him to perfect holiness in us.
One with Him
It is obvious from the Scriptures cited above that there is a deeper purity and a closer union with Christ that few are willing to enter into. The devil has deceived many believers into thinking that holiness and sanctification are other terms for legalism. So he keeps them from enjoying true union with Christ.
There are others who feel that being sanctified by the Holy Spirit will lead to excess, especially when they the foolishness taking place within the Charismatic Movement. But is this a justifiable excuse for not receiving the blessing?
The blessing we seek is not so that we can glory in some emotional experience or have the ability to speak in tongues. We seek this blessing so that our desire, will, and motives might be one with Christ. We want this blessing so that we can be effective witnesses to the great salvation won for the whole world through the blood of Christ.
What use are we to the Lord if we are unwilling to walk in holiness (sanctification)? But how useful we would be once we submitted to Him.
It is certain that the Lord is disappointed as He looks at a poor, lukewarm, and defeated Church. And it is all because the majority only wants to sing the emotional songs of part-time religion rather than to be in real fellowship with God.
Our union with Christ demands the cleansing, sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need it that we might be one with Him not only in will, but also in desire and affection, mind and motive, and with all that is within us.
“The more we live in God and unto God, the more do our eyes become enlightened to see the enormity and deformity of sin, so that we recognize the hatefulness of evil more distinctly: and the more clearly do we recognize the perfection of God’s holiness and make it the pattern and model of our own holy living” (A. T. Pierson).