Sometimes we take things for granted don’t we? When teaching a Bible study recently at the jail one of the young men asked me about several words and their meaning. Since reading and studying the Bible so much over the last twelve years it’s easy to assume others know what they’re reading when that isn’t always the case.
We’ve been studying in Romans, and as I read the last bit of chapter six the word sanctification came up a few times and I paused to ask the guys “Does anyone know what the word sanctification means?” One of them said, “I was going to ask you the same thing.” Sanctification is a good Bible word but it isn’t something you hear in the common everyday conversation. If you look up the word you will discover it means to “make one holy”, but I told them it meant to be set apart for a purpose. Of course if you look up the definition of “holy” that is the general idea.
Whenever the need to define sanctification arises an Old Testament story in the book of Daniel always seems to come to mind. In chapter five of Daniel we read where King Belshazzar was hosting quite the party with a thousand of his nobles. They were drinking wine and at one point he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver vessels his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. So they brought them in and used them during the party. You may think so what’s the big deal about that? Wait just a minute though there’s more. They used these vessels, meant only for use in the Temple for God’s purposes, to drink wine and praise gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. You see those vessels had a specific purpose and now they were being used for something else, something completely contrary to the reason they were created in the first place.
I shared this story with the guys because to me it seems to be a great example of what sanctification is all about. You see God created mankind to be his vessel to contain his Spirit. The story of the fall is actually the story of how the enemy stole us away and used us for his purposes. We were created, just like those Temple vessels, to be used only in the service of the One True God and yet we have been violated and abused by a lesser god and found ourselves lost and undone.
Romans six tells us we have been crucified with Christ therefore we are no longer a slave to sin. We have been set free to offer our bodies (vessels) once again to the original purpose and plan for which we were designed which is in service to our God. Jesus Christs’ death, burial and resurrection sanctified us, set us aside for God’s purposes once again. Now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, we derive our benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the end result is eternal life.
Since being set free from sin, the Law, death, Hell and the grave we can “present our bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God.” We no longer have to be manipulated and misused by the enemy. We have been washed and sanctified so we can “present ourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness to God.”