A Question I Was Asked:

What Does It Mean 'Sanctify Them Through Your Truth; Your Word is Truth'?

What does It mean 'Sanctify Them Through Your Truth; Your Word is Truth'? Can you help?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, these are some of Jesus' parting words to His disciples.

This is in John 17:17, but we need to get a wider context so I will take it back a few verses before that:

13. "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (John 17:13-18).

Before His crucifixion Jesus Knew that He would soon have to leave the disciples so He knew it was important to pray for their safety. ' To Sanctify' means 'to set apart, or to declare holy, to consecrate, or to purify. Jesus did not want the discioples to be under any undue pressure to get drawn back into the world, or into worldly things. Of course, He knew that the Holy Spirit would come, guide and lead His people but even people with the Holy Spirit are not perfect and can make mistakes; having the Holy Spirit does not make one an automaton enabled to automatically always do God's will.

In his Commentary, Albert Barnes wrote the following concerning John 17:17,

Sanctify them - This word means to render pure, or to cleanse from sins, 1Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 6:11. Sanctification in the heart of a Christian is progressive. It consists in his becoming more like God and less attached to the world; in his getting the ascendency over evil thoughts, and passions, and impure desires; and in his becoming more and more weaned from earthly objects, and attached to those things which are unseen and eternal.

Barnes also wrote,

Thy word is truth - All that thou hast spoken - that is, all that is contained in the Bible. All the commands and promises of God; His representations of His own character and that of man; His account of the mission and death of His Son; of the grave, the resurrection, judgment, and eternity, all tend to represent things as they are, and are thus fitted to sanctify the soul. We have here also the testimony of the Saviour that the revelation which God has given is true. All that God has spoken is true, and the Christian should rejoice and the sinner should tremble. See Psalm 19:7-14.

Jesus wanted the disciples to be sanctified through the truth of the Word of God. No minister is truly sanctified if his real pursuits and interests are worldly. Yes, one may and - in my opinion - definitely should - have hobbies and interests, yet his belief system should be firmly based on the Bible. Neither is a minister showing the fruits of sanctification in accepting the claims of macro-evolution over the Word, or in saying things like, "Oh that was all very well back in Jesus' day but today we should try to agree with modern science and modern liberal culture wherever we can." That sounds like rank disloyalty to me! Yet sanctification, which is the process of becoming more Christ-like, moves forward at different paces in all of us, some started out with more serious faults and shortcomings than others, yet the truly called know that God will certainly complete the work which He started in us in His own time. Sometimes it may seem that we are hardly moving forward at all, yet we must not compare ourselves with others and patiently allow our Lord to complete His work.

Robin A. Brace. January 22nd, 2018.