John 17 testimony part 3 – Sanctification
When Jesus came to this earth, he focused on making God known to the disciples. The fact is, people do not know God. I did not know God. I had no idea what kind of person God is. I tried to use my human understanding to define God, but that does not work. Even though I am created by God, I do not know him at all. This is a problem. Thankfully, Jesus did not leave me alone in my ignorance, but he came to me and revealed God to me through his words. He opened my eyes so I could understand what these words meant. Through them, I came to know God really. Now, to these precious disciples, whom he had been struggling hard to teach, and who, under his care, had now seen and known God, Jesus desperately prayed to the Father, that he may protect them so that they may be one.
Under God’s protection, all the disciples may be one. Being one is not easy. Satan divides and causes so many conflicts. Without God’s protection, there is no way to the disciples to have oneness. This unity can easily be destroyed by the small differences and pride that each person holds. I can see that humility and submission to each other are key to this oneness. There is no real unity, no real oneness if I always insist on my own ideas, never willing to lay down my own pride to accept others.
Unity among brothers and sisters is so precious. But Satan is always on the lookout to destroy this unity. He does so by stirring up conflicts, or working through people’s pride, desire for attention and recognition, mistrust, or selfishness. People are so sensitive, and as all kinds of strange thoughts develop in their hearts, their way of thinking gets so crooked sometimes, so it’s very easy to be misled by Satan. He makes people focus on the things of men, things that don’t even matter. They insist on these things, and as a result, unity is broken. Love turns into hate, joy turns into bitterness. That is why Jesus desperately prays for the Father’s protection. I also pray for God’s protection for our church and for myself. Instead of thinking humanistically all the time, I need to have God’s words in my mind, not leaving any chance for Satan to come and destroy this unity.
In verse 17, Jesus prays to the Father, “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth.” Being sanctified means to be set apart, consecrated, made holy. This is Jesus’s desire for his disciples, and this is God’s desire for his people who are now living in this world. While they are in this world, he wants them to be set apart. Instead of trying to pursue what others are pursuing, doing what others are doing, saying what others are saying, he wants me to be set apart for his purpose.
As I think about this prayer topic, I am so touched and amazed by God’s vision for me. I was everything but sanctified. I never wanted to be left out, so whatever other people did, I followed. My life was not set apart for God at all. But something happened as I studied his words: my eyes were opened to see the truth. He changed my perspective, my view on life, my desires, my pursuits. As a result of this inner change, everything in my life changed. I can really see what the words of God are doing–they are sanctifying me, setting me apart from this world!! So instead of looking like the people of this world, I can look more like God and have more of HIS character. It’s amazing to know that this is what Jesus has been praying about all this time. He did not pray to God that I can grow to have so much Bible knowledge, or that I will become so good at teaching the Bible. Rather, he prayed that I can be set apart. When I am sanctified, all those things just follow.
It is not easy to be sanctified, especially since I live in this world, and I have to interact with the people around me. I hear people talking about worldly things all the time, I see people living that way, and easily, my way of thinking is polluted. Before I realize it, I start to talk and think in the same way that they do. However, Jesus did offer a way to be sanctified: whenever I come to the words of God, whether it is through testimony writing, reading the Bible, praying, or coming to church, my vision is restored. I am reminded of who I am, what God has called me to do, and I am made new. Indeed, God’s word is the truth, and I can be sanctified by the truth.
After realizing this, I decided to really spend more time in God and in his words, because that’s the only way that I can be sanctified while living in this world. People try to be sanctified by living in the mountains, away from all the distractions of this world. That sounds great, but I know that I cannot be sanctified that way. Even Jesus said that he was not praying that God may take his disciples out of this world. Rather, God placed me in this world; he wants me to stay, so I cannot run away. Instead of running to the mountains, he wants me to run to his words for refuge. That is how I can live a holy life, and be completely dedicated to God all the days of my life.
In verse 19, Jesus revealed that he has sanctified himself, so that his disciples may also be truly sanctified. Jesus really lived a holy life when he came to this earth. He was never distracted to go pursue a higher position in the government, and when people wanted to make him king, he ran away. He also never sought comfort, but did all that he could to deny his fleshly desires so that God’s glory might be revealed.
Seeing what kind of life Jesus lived convicted me a lot. I remember that the very first conviction I received was through studying the lives of Jesus and his disciples. Although I did not know what exactly was wrong, I sensed that something was not right because my life seemed so different from Jesus’s life. That sense of problem was what drew me to God, and eventually to repentance. Deep inside, I wanted to be sanctified, but I had no idea how, or even whether or not it could happen. Should I go to the mountains and live as a monk? Should I quit school and just read the Bible all day? What exactly should I do? Thankfully, as I studied the things that Jesus did and the words that he spoke, my eyes were slowly opened to see the real way to live a holy life. Indeed, because Jesus sanctified himself, I can now be sanctified and live a different kind of life.
“I do not know him at all. Thankfully, Jesus did not leave me alone in my ignorance, but he came to me and revealed God to me through his words. He opened my eyes so I could understand what these words meant. Through them, I came to know God really.” —This is very true. Finding out what God wants me to do is most important. Otherwise, I know nothing really. I am just “ignorant” of many things. But it is fascinating, as you say, that God reveals himself through his words, which Jesus has given to us. He had to open our eyes. I could not open my own eyes to the true God.
“My life was not set apart for God at all. But something happened as I studied his words: my eyes were opened to see the truth. He changed my perspective, my view on life, my desires, my pursuits. As a result of this inner change, everything in my life changed…when I come to God’s words, whether through testimony writing, reading, praying, or coming to church, my vision is restored. I am reminded of who I am, what God has called me to do. ” —This truth is so very precious. I am reminded by your testimony that this truth from GOd’s word is what is sanctifying me, not my own struggle to be sanctified. In the world, I am being destroyed by all kinds of stuff. But in GOd’s words, a different way of life is revealed. But I must really internalize these things. You’re right that whenever I come to the word of God, everything becomes clearer, everything seems right again. Without this, then I have no chance to succeed in anything in this life. That is how God has set us apart for himself—by his precious Word!!!
It is much better to be sanctified by God’s words than to live in a mountain somewhere and perhaps shave my head. Or to try and isolate myself from others who cause problems. Rather, in the world, many people cause problems, but God’s word sets me apart. Thank you.
The Bible is so precious, it really is my lifeline. Especially through Jesus example I see how to live a real sanctified life, a holy life that pleases God.
This is a good reminder from your testimony: “However, Jesus did offer a way to be sanctified: whenever I come to the words of God…my vision is restored.” I was encouraged by Rob to recently struggle to listen to a few Sunday messages on audio and when I am meditating on the words of God during the day then I sense I have better vision and hopefully can grow in sanctification. Even I notice that external things are better: how I feel, my spirit, the way people treat me, and even the quality of my work. It reminds me of Joshua 1:8: when this Book of the law does not depart from your mouth, “Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Yes, sometimes I also want to live a sanctified life in a cozy, isolated cabin in the mountains. But you hit the nail on the head here: “Rather, God placed me in this world; he wants me to stay, so I cannot run away. Instead of running to the mountains, he wants me to run to his words for refuge. That is how I can live a holy life, and be completely dedicated to God all the days of my life.”
I’m really encouraged by your struggle to remain in God’s words and will upon your life in such a tumultuous and stressful environment. The glory of God shines brightly through you. I’m so blessed by your testimonies each week. I can see God is working powerfully through your humble obedience to raise many powerful disciples on your campus!!
I am blessed by your testimony. What you say is true: God’s words are our refuge from this world. Sometimes I think it’s easier to run away to the mountains rather than dealing with the craziness of the world. Thank God he gives us refuge hidden in his words so that his disciples would remain holy and pure in this dark world. Thank you for sharing your sincere testimony.
I am so touched by this passage. I strive to be in unity with my brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. I was amazed in John’s gospel when Jesus emphasized again and again that the MOST important command is to love one another. Of course I want to, but wounds and scars make it hard not to go by the assumptions from the past. Thank you for the reminder – sanctifying myself to the LORD makes this possible. I need to remember His love for me every minute. Then I can respond accordingly.
God’s vision is indeed truly great – for terrible sinners to be sanctified so that they may shine His beautiful image and, in doing so, enjoy such beautiful oneness with each other! This is a huge blessing that I have come to experience at Shepherds Church!!