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Friday, January 14, 2011

Question of the Week:
What Does Sancitifed Mean?

What did Jesus mean when He said He sanctified Himself?
~ Bud Ezekiel

This question comes from the following prayer of Jesus, immediately before His crucifixion:

"They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth."
~ John 17:16-19 (NKJV)

The word "sanctify" means to set apart as holy. Jesus was already absolutely holy before His crucifixion, so what could sanctify Him?

He appears to be referring to the sacrifice of Himself He is about to make, and how this affects us. When considering what the words may have meant to Jesus, these words can be applied to a Christian's day to day life.

In the Old Testament, some animals were set apart from the rest of the herd or flock for the purpose of being sacrificed to God. But if a priest rejected an animal as blemished, it would be used for other, non-sacred purposes. The set apart animal wasn't completely sacred, or sanctified, until the sacrifice was completed.

During Jesus' earthly ministry, He was completely set apart to do
His Father's work. If He had healed and driven out demons, preached repentance, revealed the Father to us, set a good example for us, and then returned to Heaven without dying on the cross, we would have surely judged His ministry excellent.

But His ministry would have served us for only this world.

Jesus went further. He also set Himself apart as a sacrifice for sin, and then perfected that sanctification with the completion of sacrifice. Jesus didn't simply come to make our lives better in this world. He laid down His life in payment for our sin so we could have the eternal life that begins in this world, bypasses all spiritual death, and continues into the next world.

We receive eternal life when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and give ourselves to Him. Although salvation justifies us by changing our status before God from "sinner" to "righteous saint," the process of being set apart from the world—while at the same time being sent out into the world—continues with every choice we make. Even matters as simple as what to wear or eat provide opportunity to testify, "I live for this world," or, "I live for God."

Truth sanctifies us. Example: If I make lifestyle choices which indulge my desires, and I tell myself it doesn't matter, I believe a lie and live for this world. If I know the truth which says my body is set apart to God as His Holy Spirit's temple, and that knowledge prompts me to make healthy choices, then the truth sanctifies me.

Each sacrifice, however large or small, sanctifies us. The process of being increasingly set apart to God not only honors Him, but enables us to experience His presence and eternal life more fully.

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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies. To see ongoing dialogue in comments posted there click here.

What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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