Sanctified For The Sanctification Of Others
While in the shadow of the cross, after praying for His disciples, “sanctify them through Thy truth,” Jesus said, “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (Or, “truly sanctified,” Marg.) (John 17:17, 19.) Jesus here at once recognized the two-fold definition of sanctification Webster’s Dictionary gives the following definition:
“SANCTIFY: 1. To make sacred or holy, to set apart to a holy or religious use, to consecrate by appropriate rites, to hallow…. 2. To make free from sin, to cleanse from moral corruption and pollution, to purify.”
When Jesus prayed the Father to “sanctify them,” He recognized the divine side of sanctification, which is to “cleanse from moral corruption and pollution” — “to make free from sin.” When he said, “For their sakes I sanctify myself,” he recognized the human side of sanctification, which is “to set apart,” “to consecrate,” etc. Jesus, being “free from sin” and being holy, did not need the divine work of sanctification, and, therefore, did not pray the Father to sanctify Him, but said, “I sanctify myself.”
But the words in this prayer that impress us particularly at this time are, “AND FOR THEIR SAKES, I sanctify myself.” From this it would seem that the thought uppermost in the heart of Jesus, as He offered Himself and set Himself apart to the death of the cross was that He might make the sanctification of the disciples a possibility. He sanctified Himself for this express and specific purpose: that they, the disciples, might be truly sanctified. “Wherefore, Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate.” (Heb. 13:15.)
Just as certainly as Jesus sanctified Himself — that is, consecrated Himself, and set Himself apart for the purpose of sanctifying others, so must we sanctify ourselves –that is, consecrate ourselves, and devote ourselves, and set ourselves apart for that specific purpose, if we would lead others into the experience where they are “truly sanctified.” Right here is where the majority of preachers fail. They may have sought and obtained the experience — as thousands of preachers have done in the last half century — and ever after that, favored the doctrine and testified, and preached it in a general way, but have utterly failed to lead others into the experience.
Holiness will not generalize; and he who will undertake to generalize on holiness — be he layman or preacher– will not only find that his own experience will become indefinite and confused, but that no one will be led into the experience by his testimony and preaching. He may be in full accord with the doctrine, and occasionally preach on the subject — as do some Bishops — but no one is led into the experience.
One reason holiness will not generalize is, because God makes a specialty of holiness; and the moment one seeks to generalize on holiness he has to lower the standard, and put holiness on an equality with other things, as though other matters were of equal importance. Whereas, the fact is, there is nothing else in all the universe of God of equal importance with holiness — and nothing comparable to it. Other matters are of importance only as a means to this end.
Jesus regarded our sanctification of sufficient importance, not only to offer a special prayer for our sanctification, but to devote Himself to the ignominy of death upon the cross for the specific purpose of making possible our sanctification. “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27.) And not only did He make a specialty of it then, but when we take into consideration the fact that this prayer is in the nature and form of an intercessory prayer, we will see that He continues to make a specialty of sanctification in His ministry of intercession, while on the mediatorial throne.
The only men who are successful in leading others into the experience of sanctification are such, who, like Jesus, have sanctified themselves, and set themselves apart for this business; they who make a specialty of it: a life work. Of course, such may expect that men who fail to lead others into the experience, will charge them with “making a hobby” of holiness: and with being “narrow,” and “harping on one string,” and being “men of one idea,” etc., but they themselves will be amply rewarded in having the blessing of God, and seeing multitudes seek and obtain the experience as the direct result of their labors.
Not only will they who have set themselves apart for the specific work of sanctifying others be privileged to lead others into the experience of sanctification, but as a direct result of the sanctification of others, will they see sinners converted, and the whole work of God revive and prosper. We have never known this to fail; and in more than twenty-five years of revival work we have demonstrated again and again that the shortcut to a revival– the surest way to precipitate a revival — was to get the church sanctified.
One hundred and twenty disciples sanctified by the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire, on the day of Pentecost, resulted in three thousand conversions in one day. God’s plan for saving the world is through and by a sanctified and Spirit filled church. In His prayer in the 17th chapter of St. John, Christ first said: “Sanctify them,” and gave as the object of their sanctification, “That they all may be one,” and then, as the object and result of their being one, “that the world may believe.” (17:17-21.)
It is well to remember that holiness is all inclusive, and takes up into itself all that is requisite to holiness. Holiness is the objective point of everything in the plan of human redemption, and everything converges to this center as do the spokes in a wheel to the hub. Conviction, repentance, remission, regeneration, adoption– all this has as its ultimate object our complete restoration to holiness. Whoever stops short of holiness stops short of what God intended they should have: and short of what they must have in order to enter a holy heaven. Sanctification is “The act of divine grace whereby we are made holy.” — Methodist Episcopal Catechism.
“Sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God. And ye shall keep my statutes and do them: I am the Lord which sanctify you.” (Lev. 20:7-8.)
It would seem that if the sanctification of others was of sufficient importance to engage the thought and attention of Jesus while the cross was in full view, and given as a sufficient reason for devoting Himself to the death of the cross, it should be of sufficient importance to engage the attention of His people and servants today.