Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth (John 17:17-19, ESV).
During the High Priestly prayer of Jesus Christ, one of the things He prayed to the Father concerned those who would follow Him and minister His gospel to the world. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus acknowledged the authority and power of the Word of God.
We can see this in the temptation of Christ in Matthew 4 as He answered every temptation from Satan with, “It is written.” If He held the Word in such high regard, what does that say about how we are to value Scripture?
Over the past several months, our church has been going through the Book of Ephesians. We are currently in Ephesians 4, learning about sanctification and how we are sanctified as believers in Christ.
Last Sunday, our pastor ministered from Ephesians 4:22-24, discussing how we are sanctified by the Word of God and the necessity of this taking place. I found this message to be edifying and encouraging as we looked at what Scripture had to say on the matter.
He shared some thoughts concerning passages that brought me to pause and reflection even now on these passages and how I desire to continue to be sanctified by the Word of God as a disciple of Christ, a wife, a mother, and a sister in Christ to other fellow believers.
Putting on the New Self
When we opened to Ephesians 4 last week, verses 22-24 focused on the difference between the old self and the new self. Prior to these verses, Paul had reminded the believers in Ephesus not to walk as the Gentiles do, telling them that is not how they learned Christ (v. 20).
Rather, they were taught in Him and had heard about Him. How would they have been taught about Him? How would they have heard about Him? It would have been through the Word of God. Verse 22 highlights the old self, and the corruption sin brings in not being regenerated.
Verse 24 commands believers to put on the new self that is found in Christ Jesus. Verse 23 calls for a renewal of our minds, and that renewal comes through the Word of God. Our pastor noted that these verses show the battle in sanctification.
There were several passages of Scripture correlated with this message, and 1 John 5:3 was one of them. Prior to this verse, John reminds fellow believers that everyone who believes that Jesus is Christ has been born of God.
It goes on to highlight the love for God and obedience to His commandments. Verse 3 states, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
God has not plagued us with His commandments. He has blessed us with His commandments so that we may walk in His ways and have them written on our hearts.
His ways and His instructions are found in the written Word of God, and they are sufficient for teaching us, instructing us, correcting us, and training us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
In our progressive sanctification, there is a change in our affections. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 reminds us that sanctification is the will of God for us. This author notes that to sanctify means “to set something apart for God’s special use and purpose.”
When understanding Ephesians 4:22-24, our pastor encouraged us to know that the Word of God is the means by which we put on the new self and renew our minds.
Romans 12:2 goes along with this in urging believers not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds.
This renewal is a complete work of the Holy Spirit, and the glory of God is displayed in us through the Spirit taking His Word and transforming us into the image of Christ. This is done through sanctification.
Washed by the Word
Another passage telling us of the importance of the Word of God in our renewal and sanctification is Ephesians 5:26. Prior to this, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote about the relationship of wives and husbands and their relationship to one another, as well as to Christ Jesus.
As Paul encouraged husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church, he tells them in verses 26-27, “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
I appreciated how this author described the contextual application of this verse to us as believers,
“There are things that will be cleansed — things in our minds, things that deal with conduct, things that have to do with character and attitude — that are cleansed by water. This begins to help us to understand why studying the Word of God is so important. We need those words in us so that we can think according to them, and if we believe those words, they will begin to purify and cleanse the way we think.”
It is the very grace of God that brings us to faith in Jesus Christ, and it is this same grace that sanctifies us in Christ Jesus.
Titus 3 brings to our remembrance the mercy of God extended to us in salvation and how we are washed, regenerated, and renewed by the Holy Spirit. God has richly poured out His Spirit on us through Jesus Christ, our Savior (Titus 3:6).
When we think of the symbolic use of water, we find it to be a cleansing and purifying metaphor. We have been cleansed by Christ Jesus through justification, and we are continually cleansed in progressive sanctification by the Holy Spirit through His Word.
It is a beautiful thing God does in our lives as His children. He is faithful to transform us, and He has left no stone unturned in this process. He is faithful to His Word, and He desires for His Word to be written on our hearts so that we may walk in His ways.
Why Does This Matter?
Abiding in the Word of God is important in the life of every believer in Christ. This is not a mundane act or a mere religious exercise. This is a vital part of our fellowship with God, and it is crucial in our walk with the Lord as we continue to be sanctified before God.
We need His Word daily. We need it written on our hearts that we might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). We came to saving faith in Christ by hearing His Word proclaimed to us, and His Word is alive and active.
It is our standard and foundation of truth. Be encouraged in remembering the value of Scripture in your life as one of His own and that it is necessary for your sanctification. May we be continually set apart for God’s purposes as Jesus prayed.
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Dawn Hill is a Christian blogger known as The Lovesick Scribe and the host of The Lovesick Scribe Podcast. She is passionate about sharing the truth and pointing others back to Jesus Christ through the written Word as the standard of authority for Christian living and instruction while being led by the Holy Spirit into maturity. She is the author of NonProphet Woke: The Reformation of a Modern-Day Disciple. She is a wife to Nicholas and a mother to Anabel and Ephraim. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.