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Sanctified by the Word of God


Jesus tells us in John 17:16-19 that we have a practical progressive sanctification of our present life by the application of the truth of God’s Word.

The word “sanctify” in verse seventeen means “to consecrate, or to set apart persons or things to God” (Ex. 28:41; 29:1, 36; 40:13; 1 Thess. 5:23, etc).

The Holy Spirit uses the Word to do His work within the believer. Let’s distinguish between the sanctification by the Holy Spirit within us at the beginning of God’s work of salvation in our souls, and the everyday application of God’s word in the Christian’s life. We are in the need of daily sanctification by the truth of God’s Word. This is a progressive work that will go on in our lives until we are presented perfect in Christ at His second coming.

Sanctification is not the eradication of our sinful nature, or of the “old man” in a once and for all experience. 

However, God takes His Word, not human speculation or opinions, and sets us apart from the world to Himself. We are set apart for God’s special use. Therefore, our values, goals and behaviors are distinct from the worlds.

The Word of God sanctifies us as we study, meditate, memorize and apply its truths to our daily life. The Holy Spirit uses it to make us aware of sin, confess it and repent. He takes the Word and reveals God’s perfect will for our lives. We grow in His grace through the knowledge of His truth. As we yield in obedience to His truth we are sanctified by the truth.

Jesus prayed to His Father, “For this sake I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:19). Jesus was already set apart to God. Indeed, He was sinless. However, the night before His death on the cross He was dedicating Himself “that they too may be truly sanctified.” Literally, He said, “sanctified in truth.” Jesus’ death eternally separated believers to God and His kingdom, and God’s truth is the means of their daily sanctification.

“Sanctify them in truth; Your Word is truth” (v. 17). Just as Jesus was set apart for special use, so are the believers. “The truth” is communicated in the “Word.” As we hear the Word, we comprehend the truth and obey it. This changes our values, our lifestyle, and a behavioral change takes place. We are changed in our everyday practice.

As we daily appropriate God’s Word we are sanctified by it. We are set apart to God and changed in the way we live so that we bring honor and glory to the Father.

True daily sanctification in this life comes through the ministry of the Word of God. Jesus told His disciples, “Now are you clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). God set us apart to Himself when He saved us. As we grow in Christ we experience more and more sanctification. We are progressively set apart to God as we grow in our faith, and love for God more than the desire of the world. This being set apart daily comes as the Holy Spirit applies God’s word to our everyday experiences. The Holy Spirit enables us to obey God’s Word. He is the author of the Word and He uses it to enlighten our minds, enable our will and encourage our hearts.

We were made clean through the Word at the new birth. As we obey the Word of God daily the defilement is washed out of our lives. When we sin we do not need to be saved all over again. We will never be regenerated a second or third time. After you bathe, you do not need to bathe again when you get your hands dirty. You wash them off and you are clean once more. God has given us a bar of soap. It is found in 1 John 1:9. Use it daily.

This is the practical and progressive sanctification that is seen in Ephesians 5:25-27 as Jesus sanctifies and cleanses His church. As the believer makes himself available to the Holy Spirit he is changed from the inside out. The Word of God has the liberty in the heart of the Spirit-controlled Christian to displace sin and replace in its place the righteousness of God. The blood of Christ cleanses the believer from actual sin.

Every born again Christian does pursue holiness until the second coming of Christ. At that time He will change these bodies of humiliation and make them like His glorious body. When that happens we shall have reached our goal and become absolutely, perfectly holy and sinless forever.

It is our responsibility to apply the word of God daily in the power of the Holy Spirit. It does not come automatically. For example, to abstain from sexual immorality requires the exercise of self-discipline enabled by the Holy Spirit.

God’s perfect will is that His people be holy (1 Thess. 3:13). “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). The context deals with sexual immorality; however, the truth can be applied to any area of our lives. “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (v. 7). Paul has in mind the progressive sanctification of his readers whereby they are conformed to the image of Christ in daily experiences.

God’s purpose is for the Christian to live separated lives in purity of mind and body. This is practical sanctification.

A holy life demonstrates God’s supernatural power at work in a believer’s life. A holy walk involves a right relationship with God.

Do you have an appetite for God’s pure Word? Let the Holy Spirit empower you to walk in holiness as you search the Scriptures and obey His Word.



Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006





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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.


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