God's Word is a primary means to our sanctification
John 17:17 — “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. If God's Word is useful for training us in righteousness - in the habitual practice of doing what is right - it must of necessity also be a means to make us more holy. Our Lord Jesus confirms this in our text, taken from His great high priestly prayer. He has been talking of the fact that the world will hate His disciples because they no longer belong to it, as they once did. They are not of the world, He says, but rather than asking that they be removed from the world, He prays they may be protected from the evil one. Jesus indicates that He intends to send His disciples into the world but He knows the spiritual dangers and temptations they will face. Therefore He asks that they might be protected from these by being sanctified - made holy and set apart to the Lord for His use. This sanctification, He says, will be done in (or by) the truth, which is the Word of God. In case any of us should think that this prayer was said only for those gathered around Jesus as He prayed, He then indicates that in fact He is praying for all those who would believe on Him through the message the disciples would preach - so that includes every true believer down through the ages. So the question that arises for us from this passage is the following. If our Savior understood the dangers of this world for those who are His own, whom He has purchased so that they are no longer "of the world", if He provided the Word as a means by which they might be protected, strengthened and made holy while they are here, what are we risking if we leave off reading the Word and hearing it preached? Do we think we know better than Jesus? We are going to go on in the coming weeks to consider how the Word strengthens us, gives us wisdom and understanding, how it is a weapon in our warfare and how it revives us when we are spiritually weakened. All of these are aspects of what Christ was speaking of to His Father in this prayer. God the Father always hears and answers the prayers of His Son, so we can be sure that He will sanctify us through the Word. But note this simple fact - it does not and will not happen unless we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and make use of the Word God has given!


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