“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
— John 17:17,19
If we ever want to enter Heaven, we need to be holy, totally free from sin, absolutely perfect. But, of course, we fall far short of that standard. And so our salvation depends on divine intervention which God has made possible through Christ’s death and resurrection.
Salvation is a three-step process. The first step is justification, which we discussed yesterday. Justification is a one-time act which starts our Christian life. When we give our lives to Christ, He cleanses us through His blood by His grace. He makes us pure, fit for eternity in Heaven. The second step in our salvation is sanctification. Sanctification takes a lifetime as God gradually changes us into the image of His Son. We don’t become divine in any way, but God subdues our fallen nature so that His nature may shine through us. The third and last step in salvation, glorification, doesn’t happen until we are finally in Heaven. God will completely set us free from all sin and imperfection, and we will finally realize our true selves. We will be glorified, exactly the way God meant us to be—holy, perfect, and acceptable to Him.
But until we reach Heaven, we must allow God to sanctify us in preparation for eternity with Him. To sanctify means “to cleanse, to set apart from sin, to make holy.” Sanctification comes about as we draw closer to Christ. As the branches are linked to the vine, so we are linked to Jesus Christ through His Word, the sacraments, prayer, and worship. As we apply these disciplines, we appropriate more of His grace and His fruit becomes evident in our lives. This process requires partnership between us and God. Sanctification, on the one hand, is God’s work, as all of salvation is; on the other hand, we run the race, press on toward the goal, struggle against sin, and work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
So today and every day, draw near to God. Spend time with Him. Reach out in faith to Him. And you will come to know the blessing of God’s holiness and the meaning of His sanctification.
“Awake my soul, stretch every nerve, and press with vigor on.
A heav’nly race demands thy zeal, and an immortal crown.”