Sanctified in Truth





TITLE: Sanctified in Truth

TEXT: John 17:17

TONE: Encouragement

TARGET: Believers

TASK: To encourage believers to cooperate with the Spirit in their sanctification.

TEACH: Imagine a sculptor who starts with a large block of marble. The marble is raw, rough, and unrefined. The sculptor has a vision of a beautiful statue hidden within this block of stone. Sanctification can be likened to this process where God, the mater sculptor, lovingly, and patiently works on the believer, who is the block of marble. The sculptor first selects the right block of marble. In a similar way, God chooses us and sets us apart for His purpose. He then begins by removing large chunks of marble that don’t belong, shaping a rough outline of the envisioned statue. This represents the initial stages of sanctification, where obvious sins and harmful habits are addressed and removed from our lives. As the basic form begins to take shape, the sculptor then shifts to more detailed work, chipping away smaller pieces and refining the shape of the statue. This represents the continuous process of sanctification, where finer and more subtle aspects of our character and behavior are being molded, honed, and refined. The final stages involve sanding and polishing the marble to get a smooth, finished surface that shines. Similarly, as God continues to work with us, the polishing reflects the deep inner transformation that results in a more Christ-like character, shining with His love, grace, and truth.


TRUTH: Once again, we turn our hearts and minds to the profound prayer of our Lord Jesus. This prayer, often referred to as the High Priestly Prayer, offers a rich tapestry of divine intercession, revealing the heart of Christ for His disciples and by extension, for all who would come to believe in Him. Our focus today is on verse 17, where Jesus prays, “Sanctify them in Truth your word is truth.”


I.                             The Definition of Sanctification

a.        Explanation: The OT term for “sanctification’ is qadash, a verb. Some believe that the word is related to “chadash” which means “to shine.” However, with greater degree of probability it is derived from the root “qad” meaning “to cut.” Thus, it carries the idea of separation. Literally, to make holy.


The NT verb is “hagiazo” it is derived from “hagios” which like the Hebrew qadash expressed primarily the idea of separation. The noun denoting sanctification is the word “hagiasmos.” It occurs tent times, namely, in Rom. 6:19, 22), it denotes ethical purification, it includes the idea of separation, namely, “the separation of the spirit from all that is impure and polluting, and a renunciation of the sins towards the desires of the flesh and of the mind.”[1]


First, and foremost, holiness is used in Scripture to describe the character of God. He is regularly identified as the “Holy One.” This refers to the distinctiveness or otherness in reference to God’s character and works. God cannot be associated with anything that is ‘unholy.’ We see this throughout the OT, where God demanded separation with respect the places, times, persons, and acts. God spoke in Leviticus 11:44 these words, “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.”


We see this clearly as God sets the Nation of Israel apart from the rest of the Nations of the world. God chose them for separation. Israel is called to be a ‘kingdom of priest and a holy nation’ (Ex. 19:6), set apart from the nations to serve as a witness to God’s holiness. This separation required faithfulness to the covenant, including adherence to laws and commandments that distinguish Israel culturally, morally, and religiously. Furthermore, God gave the Israel purity laws (Lev. 20:26). The dietary, ceremonial, and ethical laws function to keep Israel distinct in holiness. God said to Israel, “You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.”


Another great example is that of the Tabernacle and Temple. They were scared places, holy ground. The physical structure and their compartments (Holy Place and Holy of Holies) are consecrated spaces where God’s presence dwells, accessible only through prescribed rites. The Ark of the Covenant resided in the Holy of Holies, symbolizing the utmost separation of the most sacred items related to God’s covenant and presence. We also have the example of the Priestly Duties. Priests and Levites were designated for sacred service, symbolically bridging the gap between the profane and the divine through sacrificial rites and purification processes, Ex. 28:41 states, “And you shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.”


The NT word for sanctification is “hagiasmos.” It occurs ten times, namely in (Rom. 6:19, 22; 1Cor.1:30; 1Thess. 4:3 etc…). While it denotes ethical purification, it includes the idea of separation, namely, the separation of the spirit of man from all that is impure and polluting, and a renunciation of the sins toward which the desires of the flesh and the mind lead us.


b.        Illustration: Scripture often uses the metaphor of refining silver or gold to illustrate sanctification (Mal. 3:3; 1Peter 1:7). This process involves intense heat to purify metals, symbolizing trials and perseverance shaping believers into Christ’s image. Jeremiah 18:1-6 depicts God as the potter shaping clay. Believers are moldable in God’s sovereign hands, undergoing continual remolding until they mirror Christ.


a.        Application: Actively pursue holiness in your life personally and your community.


II.                         The Characteristics of Sanctification

a.        Explanation: Justification and sanctification, though intimately connected, serve distinct roles in the Christian’s journey of faith. Justification is the instantaneous legal act of God where He declared sinners righteous on the basis of Christ’s perfect righteousness, which is imputed to them through faith, a concept rooted in passages like Romans 3:24 and 4:5. It is an irreversible, once-for-all declaration that changes the believers standing before God.


Sanctification, on the other hand, is the gradual transformative process wherein the Holy Spirit works within believers to conform them increasingly to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Unlike the forensic nature of justification, sanctification is a progressive, lifelong journey of moral and spiritual renewal, involving both divine initiative and human cooperation, as depicted in passages such as 1Thess. 4:3 and Phil. 2:12-13. Along with the final salvific event -glorification, these doctrines highlight the completeness of God’s redemptive work from the moment of conversion to the ongoing growth in holiness.


Sanctification produces change in the life of the person saved. In the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 6, the apostle criticizes those members of the church who were taking one another before the public courts for the settlement of private disputes (6:1–8). Condemning the one who did the cheating in the first place, Paul proceeds to warn the congregation as a whole that those who do such things are in danger of forfeiting the kingdom of God (6:9–10).


In the process, he makes it clear that at least some of them had been ‘fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers’. He implies that professing Christians who persist in such behavior show themselves to be amongst those who will not inherit God’s kingdom! But Paul cannot leave the matter there, especially since his argument might suggest that his readers were still among ‘the wicked’. ‘This is what some of you used to be’, he affirms. ‘But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God’ (6:11).[2]


III.                      The Source of Sanctification

a.        Explanation: It is a supernatural work of God: 2Peter 1:3-4, powerfully encapsulates the supernatural aspect of sanctification, stating, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”


This passage highlights that sanctification is not primarily a human endeavor but a participation in the divine life facilitated/granted by God’s power. IT begins and is sustained by God’s initiative, not human effort.


The Holy Spirit, given to believer at conversion (Eph. 1:13-14), is the principal agent of sanctification. Biblical anthropology, understood within the context of total depravity, upholds that human beings cannot achieve holiness apart from divine intervention. The Holy Spirit works supernaturally within the believer, transforming their thoughts, attitudes and actions. In John 3:5-6, Jesus teaches Nicodemus that one must be “born of water and the Spirit” to enter the Kingdom of God, indicating a radical, Spirit-wrought change.


However, this does not negate the cooperation of believers. Sanctification, though fundamentally a divine work of the Holy Spirit, necessitates active human participation. Theologically, this process is synergistic, meaning that while God initiates and empower sanctification believer are called to respond and cooperate. This is reflected in Philippians 2:12-13, where believers are urged to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” underscoring human responsibility, even as it affirms “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good pleasure.” Though discipline like prayer, scripture study, and obedience, believers collaborate with the Spirit, fostering a transformative journey that impacts every dimension of their being.


b.        Illustration: Imagine sanctification as a sailboat journey. The believer and the Holy Spirit are partners in this spiritual voyage. The sailboat represents the believer. The boat by itself cannot propel forward without external help despite being fully equipped and crafted for the journey. The wind symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The wind is the empowering force that propels the sailboat forward, much life the Holy Spirit works within believers to enable their growth in holiness. Hoisting the sails depicts the human cooperation. The sailor (believer) hoisting the sails represents engaging in spiritual disciplines -prayer, reading Scripture, participating in community, and seeking to obey God’s commands. Without hoisting the sails, the winds (Holy Spirit) power cannot effectively move the boat.


c.        Application: Learn to yield to the Spirit’s leadership daily?


IV.                     The Nature of Sanctification

a.        Explanation: Sanctification primarily consists in two parts: The mortification of the old man, the body of sin. This scriptural term denotes that act of God whereby the pollution and corruption of human nature that results from sin is gradually removed.


The other is the quickening of the new man, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. It is the act of God whereby the holy disposition of the soul is strengthened, holy exercises are increased, and thus a new course of life is promoted. The old structure of sin is gradually torn down, and a new structure of God is reared in its place.


Sanctification affects the whole of man: Body, Soul, Intellect, Affections and Will.


·      Physical Purity of the Body: Scripture emphasizes the body as  the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19-20). Sanctification therefore includes honoring God through bodily sanctity, avoiding sexual immorality (1Thess.4:3-4), substance abuse, and other practices that defile the body. Roman 12:1 urges believers to present their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.


·      Inner Renewal: The concept of ‘soul” (often overlapping with “heart” in biblical usage) pertains to the seat of one’s emotions, consciousness, and spiritual life. Titus 3:5 speaks of the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit, indicating supernatural renovation of the souls faculties. Furthermore, a sanctified soul is increasingly alighned with God’s will.


·      Renewal of the Mind: Romans 12:2 commands believers not to conform to the world but to be transformed by the renewal of their minds. This cognitive sanctification involves replacing worldly wisdom with divine truth. Sanctified intellect engages deeply with God’s Word, growing in understanding and obedience. Furthermore, the process of sanctification sharpens discernment, enabling believers to distinguish good from evil and to make godly decisions (Heb. 5:14). This spiritual wisdom is foundational for growth and ensures alignment with God’s purposes.


·      Holy Desires: Sanctification transforms emotional responses and desires, reorienting them towards what pleases God. The affections, which include love. Joy, and grief, become purified and aligned with godly virtues.


·      Submissive Will: Sanctification includes the redirection of one’s will toward godly desires. The sanctified will grows in its ability and desire to conform to God’s commandments. Jesus’ submission in Gethsemane (“not my will, but yours be done,” Luke 22:42) acts as the paradigmatic model for sanctified wills. True sanctification liberates the will from bondage to sin, resulting in joyful submission to God’s will.


V.                         The Means of Sanctification

a.        Explanation: When Jesus prays, “Sanctify them in Truth,” He is revealing the divine mechanism by which believers are set apart for God’s purposes. Truth is more than a concept, it is an embodiment of God’s character and revelation. In a world filled with relativism and half-truths, the Word of God stands as the infallible, unshakable truth.


The Word of God is the absolute truth, when Jesus says, “Your word is truth” it is a profound declaration that carries muti-layered theological significance. This statement invites us to explore the essence, authority, and transformative power of God’s Word. 


The Bible is true ontologically. This means that the very essence and being is true. As God’s self-revelation, Scripture reflects His unchanging nature. Heb. 6:18 states that it is “impossible for God to lie,” underscoring that His word is pure, without deceit, and perfectly reliable. Just as God is immutable and eternal, so is His Word, firmly grounding it in God’s very nature.


The Bible is true Christologically. Jesus Himself is referred to as ‘the Word” in John 1:1, which declares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This identifies Jesus as the ultimate expression of God’s truth. Thus, the written word (Scripture) and the living Word (Jesus) are inseparably connected, both emanating truth.


The Bible is Authoritative: The doctrine of inerrancy asserts that because God is the ultimate author of the Bible, the scriptures are without error in all they affirm (2Tim. 3:16). Scriptures, trust worthiness is grounded in the perfection of God.


The Bible is Sufficient: This means that the Bible contains all the knowledge necessary for salvation and holy living. No additional revelation is required outside of what is already provided in the Bible.


The Bible Transforms: The Word plays an active role in renewing the mind of believers. It purifies, instructs, and molds us to resemble the character of Christ. Ephesians 5:26 speaks of Christ cleansing the church “by washing with water through the word.”  This continuous cleansing gradually conforms us to Christ’s holiness.


b.        Illustration: Imagine you are tasked with building a magnificent skyscraper. The core instruction for this monumental task is to follow and intricate and detailed blueprint created by the master architect, who had centuries of experience in building structures that stand the test of time. The master architect hails from a reputable lineage of builders who have constructed the most resilient and beautiful structures known to humanity. He designs methods are tried and true, trusted by many to guide their construction projects to successful completion. You, alongside a team of dedicated workers, are the construction crew. Though enthusiastic and skilled in various aspects, you are aware that without the blueprint and ongoing guidance from the master architect, your efforts could lead to catastrophic failure -a building that is unsound, unstable, and unusable.


c.        Application: Immerse yourself in God’s Word daily.



TAKE-AWAY: Recap Application


Application: Actively pursue holiness in your life personally and your community daily.

Application: Learn to yield to the Spirit’s leadership daily.

Application: Immerse yourself in God’s Word daily.


TIE-UP: The story is told of a young girl who accepted Christ as her Savior and applied for membership in a local church. “Were you a sinner before you received Jesus into your life?” inquired an old deacon. “Yes sir,” she replied. “Well, are you still a sinner?” ‘To tell you truth, I feel I’m a greater sinner than ever.” “Then what real change have you experienced?” “I don’t quite know how to explain it, “she said, “except I used to be a sinner running after sin, but now that I am saved. I’m a sinner running from sin!” she was received into the fellowship of the church, and she proved by her consistent life that she was truly converted.







[1] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1958), 548.

[2] David Peterson, Possessed by God: A New Testament Theology of Sanctification and Holiness, ed. D. A. Carson, vol. 1, New Studies in Biblical Theology (England; Downers Grove, IL: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, 1995), 44.


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