“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”2 Timothy 2:21
Cleanliness is no substitute for Godliness
We have gotten our goals confused. The field has two endzones, opposite of each other. One is called “Sanctified” and scores a victory for the Christian. The other end of the playing field says, “Sanitized” and it wins points for the devil. The field has always been laid out this way. But the Christian team has been running the ball into the wrong goal on a daily basis.
We have believed that keeping our hands clean, not getting involved in other’s lives, limiting our exposure to temptation, and generally staying away from people is what is meant by “sanctification.”
Jesus Christ said: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:16-17)
While powerful truths in their own respect, these two verses are not the conclusion of His prayer, nor are they the end of His thought. The most careless way to handle Scripture is simply to assume you know what He’s talking about and quit reading.
To stop HERE, is to agree with the Tibetan monks, the Calvinists, the Universalists, and the Catholics. To stop HERE leaves you thinking that the less you preach the Gospel, the less you interfere with heresy, the less you sup with the sinner, the closer you are to the goal of “sanctification.” They believe that being a hermit equals holiness.
Quit reading here, and you’ll run right into the devil’s goal.
In our misapplied efforts to be ‘good’ we have deformed ourselves into something that is not ‘Godly.’ We have so desired to have “clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4) that we have become completely sanitized of any outside connections. Yet we will never be sanctified that way, because of what Jesus Christ said in his very next breath in prayer:
“As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” (John 17:18-19)
Sent- not Sterile
The Lord meant quite the opposite of what you and I have presumed so long, didn’t He? How have we missed it! How many hours of prayer, days of deprivation, weeks of will-worship, and months, yea, years of pining away for what we THOUGHT was ‘sanctification’! Only for the want of TWO VERSES that spin all of our theology on its head! And we are no closer to God now than when we started.
Sanctification is availability to be used of God. Jesus Christ says of himself, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17)
Do you see that word, “sent?” That is how Christ was sanctified. He was sent for us. Answer me this: Was Christ purer on earth or with His Father enthroned in Heaven? Was Christ cleaner in a feeding-trough or seated around the Celestial banquets? Was Christ holier in the cell under Pilate’s judgment hall, bruised and bloody, than he was clothed with light and encircled with a rainbow in eternity past?
But all the purity, all the cleanliness, all the holiness was USELESS there. It was useless to God; and it was useless for man. Christ exited the sanitary when He was sent.
In order for Him to be sanctified He had to forsake the sanitary.
Major Ian Thomas preached this truth, this way in a sermon on “The Exchanged Life:”
“Sanctification is a very healthy, practical proposition. Simply defined, it means: used intelligently for the intelligent purpose for which it was intelligently created.
By putting your shoes on, you sanctify them.
By putting your glasses on your nose, you sanctify them. You can stir your tea with them, or open a letter with them, but that is not an intelligent use of the intelligent purpose for which it was intelligently created.”
Smarter, not harder
We have been wasting our time unintelligently, don’t you think? Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:20-21, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
If any man purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”
Leave all the other vessels who are ‘trying to keep away from dirt.’ Avoid them as they hurdle toward sanitation. Press on toward sanctification; DO something for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Replies to “Sanitation vs. Sanctification”
This is brilliant mate, really good to think about. I think getting this wrong can really drive self righteousness because when we sanitize ourselves from everyone else we get to think we are better than everyone else. It also reminds me of Hebrews 13:1, 12 too regarding Christ going without the camp, where the beasts bodies, flesh and dung etc were burnt. And we have to watch we don’t become sanctimonious to substitute for a lack of true Biblical sanctification.
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Thank you, Joseph. You bring up a very vivid Scripture reference.