Peace is the preeminent offer of the gospel. It is wonderful to be in relationship with God, being assured of His acceptance, getting to know Him, and experiencing His love.
“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are…They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth….And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou has loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:11;16-17;26). (Please read all of John 17 when you have the time. It is Jesus’s last recorded prayer before His arrest.)
“Sanctify them through Thy truth…”
The basic meaning of “sanctify” is to set apart. God does it. The results are knowing God and being assured of His love. We are set apart to be used by Him in some unique way of His choosing. Do you have some beautiful dishes that you have “set apart” to be used only for special occasions? This setting apart is like that. Christians are given gifts and we are commanded to use them (Romans 12:6-8). Are you using yours? Maybe your lack of peace is caused by this neglect?
Another aspect of our being set apart is our relationship with the world and culture around us. We are to be separated from worldliness; we are not to be or to act or to dress like the world around us when it violates a scriptural mandate. “They are not of this world..” My, my, that brings up a lot, doesn’t it? For women, it usually centers around how we dress; sometimes it is more about HOW we wear it…calling attention to ourselves or parts of our body. But, even more important is the real meaning of worldliness: living like those around us… in hypocrisy, dishonesty, sexual immorality, immodesty, always seeking money, social status, and leisure and entertainment etc., etc. all apart from a living relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not about being odd or looking ridiculous, but about following what the Bible clearly teaches which will set you apart from others. You will be know by your love. Is your worldliness robbing you of peace?
There is one more setting apart in this being sanctified. It is to be united with the people of God. We are to be identified with other Christians, trying to get along, working not to cause divisions. Jesus prayed for unity of believers…oneness. “That they all may be one; …that they may be one, even as We are one:” (John 17:21;22). Are you seeking to get along in a church? Are you ashamed of those who claim Christianity? So have you dropped out? So many of my generation have given up on church. The music was changed; their Bible translations were tossed aside; their Sunday School classes were abolished; old people were ignored. So they eventually just stayed home. I can sure relate to their grievances, but we are to keep trying to get along. The world stays home. No wonder Jesus prayed so fervently for us; He knew how hard unity would be! Could your divisiveness be the reason your peace has evaporated leaving you spiritually dry?
What is true spirituality?
Now for the most important thing about sanctification. You are to be made into a spiritual person–one who delights in God. There is much talk about spirituality today…of getting “it” in so many ways….. by acts of kindness or grounding yourself through meditation. But, here, in Jesus’s last recorded prayer, we see that biblical spirituality comes from acceptance of the Bible as God’s word. “Thy word is truth.” This affirmation will set you apart from others. It eliminates a lot of claims to being spiritual. You might not be as relaxed as your neighbor who has perfected deep breathing, but learning to delight in God through His word brings peace with God that surpasses even relaxation and centering techniques.
This spirituality is a lovely circle. This setting apart, being sanctified through the truth, puts us in the position where we can learn to delight in God. Peace sets the stage for delight! We experience more of the love of God and are given more grace to be like Him. These then increase our delight in God!
And delight feels even better than peace!
Put the two together (peace + delight) and you have the joy that Jesus wanted for us.
“…these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13).
Jesus did not have to be made more holy, but He was set apart in these ways and experienced this peace, delight, and joy all under the canopy of God’s love.
“O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. And I have declared it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:25-26).
“Sanctify them through Thy truth. Thy word is truth,”
(Martyn Lloyd-Jones has a sermon on John 17 and Charles Spurgeon preached one in 1886. They helped me in this interpretation and application.)