~2 Timothy 2:21 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. ~1 Thessalonians 4:4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
Sanctified – a setting apart … We are sanctified when we are born again because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. However, every day we should be growing in Christ, as we study and learn from His word. As new Christians, we don’t automatically become spiritually perfect or mature. Just as a baby is not born as a wise adult, neither are new born babes in Christ! It takes time – it takes reading the Bible and applying its wisdom to our lives! I love the message God gives us through the life of a butterfly. While in its cocoon, the butterfly struggles to be free. To watch it struggling, one is tempted to help this butterfly along. But in so doing, we deprive that butterfly of the strength it gains during its struggle. Helping it only kills it. So is the Christian. We need the struggles in our Christian walk so we can turn to the Scriptures and allow it to heal us. The more we break free from sin, we become conformed to Christ’s image. We can rid ourselves of the sin that so easily besets us and be set free like the butterfly.
Noah Webster defines sanctification as “The act of making holy.” God commands us to be holy as He is holy.
Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 20:7)
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (1 Peter 1:15)
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:16)
I found it interesting that this statement from God is found three times in the Bible. Our Three-in-One God is a holy God. We will never reach a perfected state of holiness in this lifetime but we are to be a constant “work in progress” as we walk the pilgrim’s path on earth. We sanctify ourselves through our daily time spent in God’s word. His word then washes us as we apply its applications to our lives. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (Ephesians 5:26) We can read the Bible faithfully every day – but without applying it to our lives, it is of no value. A police officer can look at body armor all he wants and admire how it can protect his body from bullets. However, the body armor does him no good if he does not put it on for protection.
The word of God is just not for reading, my friend. The Bible convicts the heart of sin. If we do nothing with that conviction, what good is it? The word of God is truth and leads us in the path of becoming more like the Father, thus fulfilling His command to be holy as He is holy. It can be done! People use their laziness as an excuse to not be separate from the world; but this is not so. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17)
Jesus was our perfect example of One who practiced sanctification. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (John 17:19) As we study the Bible, learn about Jesus and how He lived His life, we learn of His meekness, His faithfulness and His love; afterwards we should apply what we have read to our own lives. We learn how His desire was to seek the Father’s will and not His own. So should we, as children of the Living God, work diligently weeding out sin in our lives. The more we work to be more like Christ, the more sanctified (set apart) we will become. That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; (1 Thessalonians 4:4) Emphasis mine. We are to know how to do this. We cannot know without being in God’s word! The more we love Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords, the more we will want to work towards eliminating known sin from our lives.
This is the difference between a Christian who is moving forward in his spiritual walk and one that is at a stand still. Twice Paul spoke of those who were still babes in Christ because they did not get into the meat of the word of God – they were still drinking milk. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (1 Corinthians 3:2) For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. (Hebrews 5:12) A pool of water that is still (or stagnant), develops scum and the waters become green with algae. However, water that is kept moving and aerated remains fresh and living creatures can make their home in it. Remember the pool at Bethesda? (John 5:1-9) While the waters were still, no one was able to be healed of infirmities. However, when the angel stirred the waters, the first one who went into the waters was healed. No spiritual growth can come out of a stagnant Christian life. Jesus Christ has the water of life (John 4:14) and your heart must be stirred and renewed before you can make any progress.
My friend, repentance brings forth sanctification. One cannot say he is growing in Christ if he is continuing in the same sin. Are you struggling with a particular sin? Until you have forsaken it, you cannot grow more into the image of Christ. I truly believe that many Christians have become complacent to their sin and are satisfied with living with known sin. They live a life of delusion and they will not be a vessel meet for the Master’s use. What kind of vessel are you today? Are you enjoying a Christian life sanctifying yourself daily so the Master can use you? Or are you satisfied with the way you are now, not interested in setting yourself apart from the world? Only you can answer this and only you can change the answer.