The word “sanctify” is a word often used in Christian settings. Since we don’t use it in every day speech, it tends to have limited impact. “Sanctify” can be defined as “to make holy” – which has the same problem. Sanctify and holy both mean to be set apart, as for a special purpose. That means Jesus was praying that each of us be set apart to be used as for something special.

Being set apart is something very special. The temple dishes, for example, were set apart as holy – and when Belteshazzar used them for a profane purpose, God chose to give him the handwriting on the wall and bump him from the throne.

What renders us holy? What is the measure by which we are sanctified? This verse gives the answer: we are set apart for a special purpose when we are immersed in the truth. And specifically truth as made known by the word of God – which includes Scripture but also Jesus as The Living Word.

When we live by faith, abiding in the Living Word, walking in obedience to the truth of the scripture, we live as we were designed, for the special purpose of bringing God’s ways into the world. When we live in a sanctified way, we bring the harmony of love and the light of truth into the chaotic darkness of a fallen world. 

Jesus is like the firm brace that corrects our crookedness. He is the standard, the truth, The Word, by which we can align ourselves in order to live the special life to which we are called. A life that is set apart by the truth of God.

Jesus prayed to the Father that we might be sanctified/holy by being set apart in truth. To see and live reality as it is. In this way we reflect His glory. He came to the earth and sanctified/set apart himself according to the truth so that we might have the opportunity to follow him, to tether ourselves to his brace, to grab a hold of his anchor. It is an incredible blessing, an amazing opportunity!

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
– John 17:17-19