“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” ~ John 17:17
In Jesus’ (High Priestly) Prayer for His disciples, recorded for us in John 17, He prayed for their sanctification through God’s truth (i.e., God’s Word). Sanctification is the process by which someone/something becomes Holy: exclusively set apart unto God for His service.
Mosaic law instructs that an item or a person must go through a sanctification process that typically involved washing and/or anointing, followed by a dedication ceremony in order to be ready to serve God. Only after sanctification could that item be used in the worship ceremony or that person approach God to serve and/or worship Him.
By His grace, God imputes His Holiness to us to enable us, imperfect as we are, to serve Him. However, God also prepares us for (ever greater) usefulness by cleansing (sanctifying) us with His Word (truth).
…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. ~ Ephesians 5:25b-27
A Believer is washed by The Word of God as he/she studies it. And as the Believer studies God’s Word his/her mind is renewed (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23), into the very mind of Christ. And this enables the believer to know the very Will of God, which is necessary to effectively do the Work of God.
Consequently, if we fail to study His word, if we do not avail ourselves (our minds) to be washed clean by it, then our spiritual growth will be stunted. We will struggle through life, spiritually immature and carnal: trapped by the base desires of our sinful nature, not growing into the full stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. ~ Proverbs 16:6
Believers must study God’s word; there is no other way: this is the method that He has chosen for us, His disciples/church, to grow. It is foolish and futile for us to moan over our lack of spiritual growth if we are unwilling to apply ourselves to the study of God’s Word. We will never be prepared for service without studying God’s word. Just as it would be foolhardy for a hospital to hire doctors who don’t study medicine, we cannot expect God to employ those who don’t study His Word.
Jesus had just spent three years teaching His disciples, but without the ongoing sanctification with Gods truth, without the constant washing with the Word, He knew that they would fail in the mission He was about to send them. Certainly, we are no greater than they. Therefore, without the conscientious, careful and constant study of God’s Word we will fail too.
Finally, these words were a part of Jesus’ prayers for His disciples. This was not a teaching given to a multitude. Therefore, this message is for those who are committed to working in the Kingdom of God. This message is not intended for Christians “in-name-only”, those who practice their own unique version of a faith based on the most convenient parts of the Scripture. This message is not for those who use Christianity as “fire insurance”: who do not feel constrained to work in the Kingdom of God though they (think they) are in it.
Jesus’ prayer was for those who would “Hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6), those who are willing to respond to the call to serve in the Kingdom of God.
If we indeed intend to heed God’s call to service, let us then commit ourselves to sanctification: to being washed by His Word. Let us determine to study God’s Word that He might set us apart unto Himself, for His use ONLY. For as God sanctifies us, as we grow in Him, the devil will not be able to trick us into serving his unholy purposes. Neither will we seek our own agenda. No, we will be available to God, exclusively, for work in His Kingdom.
And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. ~ 2 Timothy 2:19b-22
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17