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Sanctified By the Truth
By David A. DePra
I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou should take them out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:14-17)
Christians are those who continue to live IN the world, but who are not OF the world. Well, everyone knows that. But do we actually know WHY? I mean, really? Christians are not OF the world because we are born again from ABOVE. That is why.
If you are born again, you RECEIVED new life from above – after having relinquished your old life. The life you received is not of this world. It is not OF MAN. It is another kind of life than that which you received through natural birth. In short, Christ has come to dwell in you from the outside of you. And because He has, you are a new creation. All of these facts mean that you are not OF this world. You are of ANOTHER realm – born of God.
But there are ramifications built into all of this. If you are not OF this world, you cannot live as if you are OF this world – that is, you cannot live on the same basis, according to the same life, or according to the same inner government as the world lives. No. For if you have been born again – if you have RECEIVED and COME UNDER new life in Christ – you are a new creation who belongs to another realm. You belong to Christ Himself.
Yet don’t misunderstand. When I say, "you cannot live as if you are OF this world," I don’t mean only that there are rules and laws you must obey as a Christian. I mean more than that. What I mean is that you are now constituted by a new nature. You are now constituted in a way that is contrary to this world, and really, to the way you used to be constituted. A born again person has a whole new inner government – or at least they ought to have. The new creation in Christ is a different kind of creature than one that can live as belonging to this world. The new creation in Christ is constituted unto GOD.
Of course there is a process involved here. That is why the Bible tells us not to be conformed to this world. Christians often do not see the kingdom of God. They don’t understand. But God wants us to live, not as if we belong to this world, but as if we belong to Him. This process is often called, "sanctification." It is the process whereby we begin to manifest the reality of belonging to God. Another word for it is HOLINESS.
Holiness is more than just clean living. Holiness is a relationship with God. If I am holy, I belong to God. The life that emerges will therefore BE holy.
But don’t think of being holy as the result of me giving my flesh or personality a, "moral bath." Certainly we will obey God. But holiness, or sanctification is not ME being a better person – it is Christ living through me.
That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Cor.1:29-31)
What we see here is that God doesn’t so much MAKE US ANYTHING – not our flesh. What He does is bring our flesh under the power of the Cross and get it out of the way. Then Christ will be seen. He will be our sanctification – that is, all holiness that is manifested in us will be HIM IN US.
Of course, God doesn’t do these things by bypassing our will. No. We must carry our Cross daily. We must LOSE OUR LIVES. But if we do, then the fact we belong to God will be made manifest through Christ in us. We will live holy lives because we will be living out the fact that we belong to God.
Belonging to God
If you belong to Christ, you are here to both become an expression of the will of Christ, which is what it means to be a witness, and you are here to DO the will of Christ. Here we see the outworking of what it means to be SANCTIFIED.
To be SANCTIFIED – or made HOLY – ultimately means to come under the will of God, or, if you will, the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This will obviously result in a holy life of obedience. But not only will I DO the will of God, but also if I belong to God, I will BECOME the will of God. In other words, I will become a living epistle – a living expression of His will.
We need to understand how UTTER sanctification really is. Do we realize that if we no longer belong to ourselves, then we no longer have any say-so at all as to our life? I have to LOSE my life – even all of the GOOD parts – in order to FIND HIS LIFE. But that isn’t a bad thing. It is a great thing. Don’t we think that God’s ownership of us might just be a little bit better for us than our ownership over ourselves? I am being facetious. But you see my point.
Many of us cringe at this thought. That is because we don’t KNOW GOD. To belong to God is not a negative thing. It is not fearful – it is not a matter of God imposing His will on us. It is really true freedom. It is the purpose for which God created man in the first place. That is why you will never find God taking our life away from us against our will. No. Jesus always makes this voluntary – "IF any man would be my disciple….he must lose his life." Sure, God will bring the occasions and trials in which we must choose. But we must choose. And if our choice to LOSE our lives for His sake is NOT voluntary and of faith – but merely religious and of the flesh – then we are not yet losing our lives for His sake. We still have a ways to go.
If we would truly LOSE our lives – which is our SELF DETERMINATION of trying to have our life OUR way – if we would truly lose this into the hands of Jesus Christ – we would, in the aftermath, see that what we are losing was really our chains of bondage. That inner drive that makes us want to have OUR life OUR way – oh, yes, religiously and supposedly to God’s glory – that inner drive is THE BIG problem. If we would LOSE it to Christ, we would find ourselves in the aftermath being shocked at our stupidity and ignorance in taking so long to do so.
The Truth Sanctifies
Now, if you read the passage from John 17, quoted at the beginning of this article, you will see that what sets us apart for God in this world – what makes it possible to live in this world as those who actually belong to God – is the Truth. First, the Truth of the new birth. That is obvious. But also seeing and experiencing the Truth on deeper levels. The more we see the Truth about God, the less we can belong to this world. In fact, there is a principle bound up in this – to the extent that I know Jesus Christ, I will want to belong to Him, and thus, will NOT want to belong to this world; will not be OF this world in practice.
This is all through the Bible. We are here talking about TWO realms. You cannot serve God AND mammon. You cannot love the world, but love God.
I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abides for ever. (1 John 2:14-17)
Notice closely the meaning of the phrase, "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." John is not threatening us. He is not saying, "If you love the world, God won’t love you." Nope. Rather, he is saying that IF you love the world it is EVIDENCE that the love of God is not in you. Clearly, if the love of God IS in you, it will become more and more impossible for you to love the world. There is cause and effect here. You cannot serve two masters. You either belong to God – voluntarily because you love Him and He loves you – or you continue to love the world.
I do realize that there is a process involved here. Most of us don’t even know what it means to love the world, or what it means to seek to save our lives. And we certainly haven’t much of a clue as to what it means to lose our lives for the sake of Christ. But this is exactly what God must reveal to us the TRUTH on this matter – and if He does, and we respond, then that Truth will sanctify us. The Truth received and embraced will mean that we no longer live as one OF this world, but live as if we belong to God – because we DO belong to God.
The fact is, we can memorize the theology and doctrine on these matters until we are blue in the face, and we can agree with it, and even desire that God make these things a reality in our lives – but then God has to actually deal with us. Despite the fact that it is supposed to be business as usual for a Christian to live as a citizen of another realm, it is not business as usual today. It is hardly even known or taught. And therefore this makes it all the more difficult for it to become a reality. Indeed, this process will strike at the heart and core of what makes us tick as naturally born human beings who have died once and been born again.
For example, I hear the preachers on TV telling me how much God wants to bless me financially. That’s nice. I believe that – I don’t think God wants to curse us financially! But do we think that God wants to bless us financially to the disregard of our relationship with Him? In other words, is God going to bless me financially simply because I give away money, even though there might be reasons why doing so would hurt me in other ways? Suppose I’m in love with money, and I give money away to the poor – so that I will get more money from God? Do you think God is going to give me more money? No. He is going to want to deal with my love of money. And He cannot do that by giving me MORE money.
Most of these errors try to set up a system between man and God that replaces the RELATIONSHIP God wants. We are told that if we do this, God will do that. Try it. Most of the time God will not play along. And even if He initially does, this will stop. Why? Because it is not a relationship. It really is LAW – being under a law. Furthermore, most of the time when we try to plug into something like that, we are doing it for personal gain. We do what we think will get God moving on our behalf. Again – this has nothing to do with a relationship of worship. It really has to do with making deals with God for our own benefit.
God wants to sanctify us – set us apart for HIS use. Get that. God has not set Himself aside for OUR use. And at some point, God is going to have to absolutely break us of the notion that He is here to service our life, our desires, and our goals. He is not. He is here to crucify all of those attitudes – all of which speak of loving this world and saving our lives for ourselves – and to set us free. THEN God can bless us because the blessing will be safe within the relationship He wants to have with us.
The moment we see the Truth about God we are, by definition, being pulled out of this world into a relationship of sanctification unto God. It cannot work any other way. You cannot see the Lord and continue to think there is any possibility that can belong to yourself. Indeed, you cannot see the Lord and continue to WANT to belong to yourself. The Truth will SANCTIFY you – and the best news is, you can never go back. You KNOW.
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