Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. It is astonishing that the Word made flesh is praying that we would be sanctified by Him, the truth about the entire story of redemption. This story was about to reach its climax in the coming days of Jesus' life, with his gruesome death, burial and glorious resurrection. This prayer was about to be fulfilled in the act on the cross. The cross and resurrection is the answer to the prayer.
What truth sanctifies us?
Hear the other petitions that Jesus pours out before the Father in this prayer, the truths that Jesus pleads for us to know:
- That we would know for certain that God sent Jesus
- That Jesus came to glorify God by doing the work of redemption that God sent Him to do
- The church was a gift from God to Jesus!
- That once we are His, we will always be His
- That we are eternally kept by the Father
- That we are guarded by Jesus
- That before the world ever existed we were loved by God
- We have an irrevocable and eternal union with Christ
- God loves us as He loves His perfect Son
- Fullness of joy comes from knowing God’s love for us in Christ
- Just as God and Jesus are one, we are one with Christ
- Jesus longs for us to be with Him
Loved as Jesus is loved.
Three times in the last four verses of John 17 our eyes are opened to the powerful, evocative love the Father has for His Son and for us.
- “that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me”
- “you loved me before the foundation of the world”
- “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
How my heart longs for and simultaneously militates against believing that God loves me as He loves Christ. I want to believe that I am loved so perfectly, so greatly, but I know my failings and I know I don’t deserve such love. Even in knowing my unworthiness, I try to prove myself, by my own good works, and the truth I need is found in these verses. I was loved before I ever did anything good or bad. As Sinclair Ferguson says, “Our status is not a matter of our worthiness, but of His love.”
The truth of belovedness is what sanctifies. The truth of the wonderful story of redemption is what sanctifies. It is too good for our legalistic hearts to believe and yet it is the truth that sets us free from our legalism. In your struggle against sin, in your struggle to be a more “sanctified Christian” remember the truth of God’s love for you in Christ. It changes everything. Our sanctification is completely about Him and His work in our lives, His completed work, His ongoing work.
“Oh, how precious is this truth in the consciousness of our many failures and defects! Our salvation is all in Christ – our righteousness is all in Christ – our merit is all in Christ – our completeness is all in Christ – in Christ our Covenant Head, our Surety and Mediator; and no flaw in our obedience, no defect in our love, no failure in our service, should so cast us down as to shut our eye to our acceptance in the Beloved. We are fully and eternally complete in Jesus.” – Ocatvius Winslow