Recently, after reading John 17:17, our Bible class teacher asked, "Who is the truth?"
After a brief silence, I answered, "Jesus." Almost immediately, I chuckled to myself as I remembered that when I taught younger children in VBS or at camp or at home, "Jesus" was the pat answer to nearly any question.
Maybe you've had a similar experience with questions like, "Who loves you?" or "Who died on the cross for your sins?" Once the children got into the mode of answering, "Jesus," you had to be careful what you asked them (or how you asked) because there are equally important questions to which "Jesus" isn't the answer, such as, "Who doesn't want you to go to heaven?"
There's an easy connection between the word and truth because Jesus is described as the word and claimed to be the truth (John 1:1-2, 14; 14:6). This doesn't mean that Bibles displayed (and sometimes even read) on many coffee tables are actually Jesus, but they do represent his authority (1 Peter 1:24-25).
Consequently, when Jesus asked God to sanctify us by his word, he means, "according to his word – through his word – by his authority."
Jesus' request for our sanctification (to make us holy, free from sin, approved by God – justified) is according to God's will for Christians and we're to maintain our sanctification by maintaining a pure life (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 2 Peter 3:9). That doesn't mean we'll be perfectly sin-free. Maintaining our sanctification as Christians means we seek forgiveness when we do sin (1 John 1:5-9).
Maintaining our sanctification also includes remembering that Jesus died to make us holy. He sanctified us by giving his body as the sacrifice for our sins and by shedding his blood to purify us, leaving us with a clean conscience (Colossians 1:22-23; Hebrews 9:13-14; 1 Peter 3:21). We identify with his death, burial, and resurrection when we're baptized and we remember his sacrifice through communion every Sunday (Romans 6:3-11; Hebrews 10:19-31; Acts 20:6-7).
While we must maintain the holiness, it's God who actually does the sanctifying through his word and the work of the Holy Spirit living in us (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Philippians 2:12-16; 3:15-16). That is, from the beginning God chose to sanctify by the Spirit those who would believe the truth.
Belief infers action through obedience to the commands given in the word (James 1:21-25; 2:17-24; 1 Peter 1:1-2, 22-23; Galatians 3:26-4:7; Acts 2:38-39). Therefore, sanctification comes by washing with water according to the word as we call on the name of the Lord and leads to our justification (approval) before God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1:2; Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:25-27; Titus 3:3-7).
Have you submitted yourself to God in obedience to allow him to begin the work of sanctification (Colossians 2:9-13). That's how we assure ourselves that we're going to heaven as we come to Jesus with childlike faith (Matthew 18:1-4; 1 John 5:6-13). He is the answer to most of our questions.
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org