“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NIV)
This is part two of a two-part post. In part one, we looked at the second have of John 17:17, “your word is truth.” In this part, we’ll look at the first half of the verse, “Sanctify them by the truth.”
Sanctify them by the truth
I recently watched Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey, a documentary about Billy Graham on Netflix. I didn’t know this, but in the 1940s, a few years into his preaching ministry after he’d already started to become famous, Dr. Graham had a minor crisis of faith. In those days, the progressive theologians, Bible scholars, and pastors who were up with the times were abandoning the truth of God’s Word. The popular opinion among many mainline Protestant church leaders was that the Bible really wasn’t “truth.” It was full of myth, legend, error, morality stories, etc., but it couldn’t be considered “God’s Word.”
Dr. Graham described how he began to doubt the authority and truth of the Bible, but then made a decision to accept it on faith. He said, “I got on my knees and told God, ‘Just as I accepted Jesus on faith, so now I accept the Bible as Your Word on faith.'” From that moment on, he said there was a power, an authority, and confidence in his ministry that hadn’t been there before.
God’s Word is powerful and effective. As Jesus said in John 17:17, God’s Word is truth. He didn’t say, “Your Word is true,” but rather, “Your Word is truth.” The Bible isn’t just a book of true statements, facts, and historical information. It certainly is true, but it is more than that. It is truth, and truth has the power to change lives. That’s what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Sanctify them by the truth…” (John 17:17a NIV). The word sanctify means “to make holy” or “to purify or free from sin.” God’s Word sanctifies us–it makes us holy, it purifies us, it sets us free from sin; it is the truth that changes our lives forever.
Here is just a sliver of the truth that God’s Word reveals. Accepting this as the defining truth of our lives will transform us and make us holy as we live according to it (over time, of course).
- Every inclination of the human heart is evil, even from childhood. (Gen. 8:21)
- There is no one on earth who never sins. (Eccl. 7:20)
- Every human being is sinful and has committed sins. (1 John 1:8-10)
We have to acknowledge that we have a problem, namely, sin. Only then can we receive the Savior. Jesus doesn’t just save us from our hurts, our pain, and our sorrows. He saves us from our sin. Yet, so many today don’t want to confess their sin. The problem is, we can’t be sanctified by the truth unless we accept the truth–we are sinners. But God’s truth doesn’t end with revealing our sin. Jesus saves us from our sin in what has come to be known as the Great Exchange:
- “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)
The Bible teaches many things about how Jesus changes us. Believing these statements will transform our relationship with God, with ourselves, and with others. Here are just a few points:
- I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
- I belong to God. (1 Cor. 6:20)
- God will complete the work He has begun in me. (Php. 1:6)
- I am a citizen of Heaven. (Php. 3:20)
- I am forgiven. (Eph. 1:8)
- I have a purpose. (Eph. 1:9)
- I have a hope. (Eph. 1:12)
- God desires me to be fruitful. (John 15:5)
- I am invited to be God’s co-worker. (2 Cor. 6:1)
- I am a dwelling for the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 2:22)
- I am not alone. (Heb. 13:5)
- I am victorious. (1 John 5:4)
- I am no longer condemned. (Rom. 8:1)
- I have been chosen and appointed by Jesus. (John 15:16)
There are so many more things the Bible has to say about who we are, what happened to us when we accepted Christ, and what God wants for us. And there is even more truth about who God is, what He’s done, and what His plans are for the world! Allowing the truth to penetrate your heart and mind will change everything about you. For our church this next season, we are internalizing this truth:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20 NIV)
The life we live is Christ’s life. My prayer this week is that God will show us all where our lives are not aligned with His so that we can die to our false understanding of the world and come alive to the Truth in Christ.