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"'Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
"'As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
"'For them I sanctify myself, that they, too, may be truly sanctified.'" John 17.17-19 NIV
"Sanctify"? The dictionary meaning of sanctify is to set apart for its proper purpose. If something is not sanctified, it is abused, i.e., not used for the purpose for which it was intended; for example, if a paring knife is used for any other purpose than peeling fruit or vegetables, it is being abused.
God created human beings to be holy, to be separated to Him to bring glory to Him that is to reflect Him in His nature and character. We do this by living our ordinary human lives for Him.
"...Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." Isaiah 43:7 NIV.
What has separated us from God and caused us to be abused -- i.e., not fulfilling the purpose for which God created us? Through our ancient ancestor, Adam, we declared independence from God, set up our own standards of right and wrong and overthrew His right to govern us in righteousness and truth. We became subject to the devil's deception, followed his lies and set ourselves on a path of self-destruction.
There is only one way back from this suicidal rebellion -- to change our way of thinking (repent) and return to the truth about God and ourselves. God made this possible by sending Jesus to remove the barrier of sin that separated us from Him, cancelling our debt by paying it Himself, and pushing the "reset to factory default" button by reconciling us to Himself and restoring His image in us.
When we follow His prescription for sanctification -- returning to the purpose for which He created us, we embark on a twofold process which begins when we start again through repentance from our old rebellious life and faith in Jesus to forgive our sin and enable us to begin a new life of trust and obedience to Him. This process is both unlearning and re-learning -- called repentance; not necessarily an emotional melt-down but rather the recognition that what we used to think about God and ourselves was wrong, lies spawned by the devil to degrade God and us and to take us away from God's love. Lies must be replaced by the truth which God has set out in His Word for us.
There is only one antidote to lies -- truth. Before we came to recognise that our thoughts about God were lies, we misjudged Him, were suspicious of Him and even outright hated Him. Why? The Bible says, "While we were God's enemies..." Romans 5:10a NIV. Enemies? Isn't that a rather strong word? Yes, but it’s true. Why were we God's enemies? Because we were on the side of His arch enemy, the devil. We listened to him, followed him and believed his lies about God and hated God for no reason.
How are we sanctified? When we believe and receive the truth that God loved the world so much that He gave His Son as a sacrifice to pay the world's debt so that we can be reconciled to Him, we took the first step towards returning to God to fulfil His purpose for creating us. We began a journey that lasts a life-time, replacing lies with truth, one lie at a time, one thought at a time by learning from God's Word what He thinks and plans for us.
Jesus' high priestly prayer was the expression of His deepest desires for His people before He went to the cross, and the reason for His willingness to be sacrificed for us. In the entire prayer He made only three requests for His disciples, both those whom the Father had given Him and those who would believe through them, and they summarise the purpose and outcome of His death:
1. That the character of God would be restored in them to immunise them against the devil's deception ("Protect them by the power of your name"),
2. That the Word of God would be so deeply embedded in their minds that they would begin the journey of revealing God's glory in the way they think and live ("Sanctify them by the truth") and
3. That God's image of oneness would be restored in them so that the world would believe that the Father had sent Him ("That all of them may be one. Father, just as you are in me and I am in you").
This is the Saviour's prayer for you and me. Will it be answered?
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