Yesterday we talked about the misguided concept of sanctification that many churches had practiced when I was growing up. I know that some churches and pastors still have the same type of approach to sanctification, but what does the Bible say about this important aspect of the Christian life?
I will only make reference to Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, and for all believers throughout church history. Jesus said: “Father sanctify them in your truth, your word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus’ words can only mean one thing—sanctification is the direct result of Christian believing and living according to God’s word. This is not complicated. If we want to make progress to a sanctified life we have to do two things consistently and without conditions: we have to love God with all our hearts, minds and souls, and we have love our neighbor as ourselves. Before you jump the gun and think that this is easy, allow me to share two additional thoughts with you.
Loving God with all our hearts, minds, and souls means that our relationship with God has the highest importance in our lives. Let me say it in another way. Our love for God has to be of such high conviction that loving our father and mother would feel like hate. Listen to Jesus’ words: “Whoever does not HATE his father and mother for my sake, is not worthy of me” (Matthew, emphasis added). Hold on!!! What is this? Aren’t we supposed to honor our fathers and mothers? Yes we are. But compared to our love for God, our love for our parents would look like hate. In other words, if we have to make a decision between following God’s words or following our parents’ instruction, there is no contest, we will follow God’s words.
The second observation is that loving our neighbor is the hardest thing that has ever been uttered by anyone in the history of mankind. Jesus did not say, “be nice with idiots.” He said, “Love your enemies.” What is that? Who can love his enemies? How do we love our enemies? This is the way I read this—loving our enemies means that we will intentionally and purposely consider our enemies well-being at all times. I know what you are thinking: no one can do that! Well, my friends—that’s the standard. This is the reason we must have the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives if we are going to fulfill Jesus’ commandments. Do you want to be sanctified? Obey Jesus words: “Sanctify us in your truth, your word is true.”