By Randi Peck
“What do you imagine complete sanctification looks like?”
Three and a half years ago, the first blog for GraceEnough.org opened with this very question.
My answer: more or less, that sanctification looks like living radically for God, wherever he’s planted you.
Looking back, is there truth in what I wrote? Sure. But as I study Jehovah Mekoddishkem— “the Lord Who Sanctifies”— I also have to laugh. Because as I’m about to point out, we often miss the point of the word “sanctify”… And, well, that first article is a pretty good example of how we can hone in OUR role in sanctification, while missing out on the bigger, much more beautiful picture of HE who sanctifies.
We tend to think of sanctification as something we have to go through… even “survive”. A test, a trial, or just hard things in general. I think it’s fair to say that our conversations about sanctification revolve around how we become more like Christ through hard things.
For example, how often do we say, “Marriage will sanctify you, all right!” And how frequently we nod in agreement that, “Kids are the best form of sanctification.”
But *try* for a moment to dust everything you’ve ever heard about sanctification off of your virtual blackboard—and I will, too. Listen to the first mention of sanctification in the Bible:
Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:3)
Other versions render that word “made it holy” or “set it apart”. This is the meaning of “sanctify”:
to set apart for a sacred purpose; to render hallow;
to free from sin; to cleanse; to devote to God
Okay, now let the Bible’s first mention of The Lord Who Sanctifies— Jehovah Mekoddishkem— sink in:
Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. (Ex 31:13)
The first symbol God used to convey sanctification to his people was REST.
He wanted us to know that “sanctify” is not something God does TO us, but it is what he does FOR us. And so he created the seven-day week, a rhythm that points to the fact that it is Yahweh who cleanses.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear that, Jehovah-Mekoddishkem becomes a lot sweeter of a title…
I, the LORD, sanctify you.
God renders me hallow!
God sets me apart for a sacred purpose!
God frees me from sin!
“Sanctify” is not something we can do to ourselves, any more than the sanctified temple could devote itself to God’s service. (2 Ch 7:16) Any more than the instruments sanctified for the temple could put themselves through a ceremonial cleansing. (Lev 8:11) Devoting something to God is an act ONLY Jehovah Mekoddishkem is capable of.
But God’s children will become more like Christ through hard things, you might say. What about the suffering? The call to be holy, like he is holy?
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Heb 10:14)
YES. We are called into the process of becoming who we already are.
And as we lay off the weights and sins of this world; as we suffer and pour our lives out for his holy name… we need more than just a how-to, or list of tools for survival.
We need a Sabbath… Sunday and every day. We need a Sabbath, in the midst of our successes and our failures.
This is our rest:
Christ already set us apart, through the very hardest of things. He went through the very darkest of nights, so we could be called his priests. He endured the hottest of fires, so that we could be made holy.
The great news about the Lord Who Sanctifies, is that he who HAS set you apart—going to the greatest of lengths on the cross to do so— will carry you through.
So back to that question: what does complete sanctification look like?
Complete sanctification looks like the Son of God, perfectly obedient on that Tree.
Complete sanctification looks like a Man, so righteous was he that he was able to die in our place and set us apart.
Complete sanctification looks like us hallowing the name of God through devoted lives, because he first made us holy. (Lev 22:32)
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thess 5:23-24