“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
To sanctify something is to make it holy, to set it apart for a holy purpose. God sanctified the people of Israel by setting them apart for the purpose of preserving the line of the Savior. God sanctified Jesus by setting apart from the rest of humanity, the child of a virgin and the only human being since Adam and Eve born without sin. God has sanctified his Church, the people called out of the world to be his own, through Word and Sacraments.
When I teach my catechism students what it means to be sanctified, I use the example of a chair designated for sitting and studying the Word. If I wanted a place to sit and study the Bible, where I could keep myself free of distraction and in a meditative state of mind, I might choose a chair in a corner of my house and designate it as my “Bible reading chair.” In order to preserve the sanctity of that chair, I would not put it in sight of the TV. I wouldn’t sit in it when playing a game on my phone. I wouldn’t use it as a stepstool to reach something in an up high cupboard. I would use that chair for its one purpose – a place to be in the Word. To do anything else in or with the chair would make it less than sanctified.
Okay, that’s a hypothetical example, and a little bit silly. I don’t have such a chair, and while it doesn’t sound like a bad idea, I don’t know if it’s practical in my little house to have an entire piece of furniture devoted solely to my daily devotion. But you get the point – to set something apart for a holy purpose means to keep it free from things that take away from that holy purpose.
So it is with our lives. Christ has sanctified us by his truth. He has set us apart for holiness by his truth. Through the truth that Jesus is our Savior, and through the truth that his blood cleanses us from all sin, we have been brought to faith and set apart from the rest of the world.
Since we are set apart, we live by the truth of God’s Word. When faced with a question of how we are to live, we don’t do what the world does – look to philosophy, or theory, or a blog post on the top ten ways to make your life awesome. We look to God’s Word. There we find the truth that sets us apart, and leads us to live sanctified lives, lives set apart for God’s holy purpose.
- In what ways does the life of a sanctified Christian look different than the lives of those around them?
- How does it change your outlook on life to know that God has set you apart for a holy purpose?
If God has set you apart for a holy purpose, that means he wants to accomplish things through you. How will you identify the purpose God has for you right now? How can you fulfill the mission of his Church today?