We often seek a “right now” word, from God. Whether through preaching, teaching, reading, praying, or listening, a current and meaningful message is being sought. Many times, those messages are not really new at all, just more relevant than the last time we heard them.
As a child I remember many preachers, evangelists, and pastors preaching and teaching on the subject of sanctification or being sanctified. The vague memories I have (consider most of these memories are 20 years or more in the past) seemed to have more to do with holiness and salvation than actual sanctification. While I do see and understand the similarities and the direction the message was going, I can not say I remember any of those messages really “hitting the nail on the head”.
It is not my intent to undo any message, critique another’s sermon, nor undermine anything written, said, or heard. Instead, I hope to add to and hopefully broaden, if just a bit, the message of being sanctified. One of the difficulties when approaching this subject, is defining the subject. The word “sanctification” has several meanings which are similar, but distinct. Sanctification means to “set apart”, “make holy”, “make sacred”, “set free from sin”, and “make conductive to spiritual blessing”.
John:17:19: And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Ephesians:5:26: That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
1st Peter:3:15: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
In those phrases and verses you can see a very general picture with very separate details. For the purpose of this writing I will focus on being “set apart”. Once you have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ the process of being sanctified begins. It is the process of being separated from the world (worldly ways) and dedicating yourself to His purpose for you. You can see how easily a message or teaching could go from sanctification to a message of holiness. Sanctification is an ongoing process, for we fight the flesh by the Spirit and this battle is fought until His appearing or our death.
Being sanctified, or set apart, is not a painless process. When we begin our separation from worldly ways and worldly lusts, it is not easy. The best analogy that comes to mind is “old habits die hard”. We are creatures of habit, and often lazy in spiritual matters, I speak from experience. We lose old friends, we refrain from going to old places (bars, casino’s, parties where drugs and alcohol are prominent), we truly begin a new life and that isn’t easy.
Today, I believe, the true church is being further set apart from the world. The refusal to call out sin or call a sin “sin” has become normal to many churches, while the true church confronts sin and shines the light into dark places. Homosexuality has been allowed to creep into the church as “acceptable” and even deemed worthy to become leaders within the church. Yet the true church proclaims the Word of God, stands firm, and declares sinners must repent. Many churches teach worldly prosperity, money, and worldly riches. The true church continues to teach “seek ye first the kingdom of God”, charity, and denial of self.
As these things continue to come against the church, and you as part of the church, it may get painful. The more you stand for what God has to say, the more you will be criticized, labeled as ignorant, or as an extremist. The more the world changes, the further the church will be separated from it. Keep this in mind:
Luke:12:51: Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
Luke:12:52: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
Luke:12:53: The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Luke:12:54: And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.
Luke:12:55: And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.
Luke:12:56: Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?
Luke:12:57: Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?
Sanctification is ongoing for the church. I will close with this: There is coming a “setting apart” where we will leave this world, be it by the grave or that trumpet sound. Once we are truly set apart from this world and from this flesh we will be with our Lord Jesus and serve Him eternally. Seek Him, seek His will, and be ready, for we could be “set apart” in a moment, in the twinkling of the eye!