I Sanctify Myself
For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
One thing is certain, that while there is anything between you and the Lord you can not weaken others. You cannot uplift them. When they are low, you will bring them lower. When they feel heavy, your coming will only add to their heaviness. Instead of being an asset in the fellowship of God’s people you will contribute nothing, but rather detract from its strength.
But if all is clear between you and him the reverse is true. Your very presence can be a benediction, bringing freshness to those who are jaded and adding life to the whole worship of the saints, to their prayers and to their praises. Maintain a vital touch with God yourself, and you may well be used to restore that same vital touch with him to those who may seem to have lost it.
For those who may not understand what the word “sanctify” means- it is placing one’s self totally at the disposal of God, giving up any rights or control, and becoming a vessel used only for God’s purpose. The text today was spoken by Christ just before He was arrested and crucified. I think we all understand that Christ didn’t surrender to the Father’s will for His own benefit, but to benefit all who accepted Him as the sanctified substitute sacrifice. As a matter of fact, every act of Christ in presenting Himself to the use of the Father was for our benefit.
Some may say that this is understandable for Christ is certainly more than a mere human, and that lets us off the hook. Surely God wouldn’t hold us to such high standard, would He?
The Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians says:
“Only be careful that this liberty of yours [this power to choose] does not somehow become a stumbling block [that is, a temptation to sin] to the weak [in conscience]. For if someone sees you, a person having knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, then if he is weak, will he not be encouraged to eat things sacrificed to idols [and violate his own convictions]? For through your knowledge (spiritual maturity) this weak man is ruined [that is, he suffers in his spiritual life], the brother for whom Christ died. And when you sin against the brothers and sisters in this way and wound their weak conscience [by confusing them], you sin against Christ. Therefore, if [my eating a certain] food causes my brother to stumble (sin), I will not eat [such] meat ever again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.”
1 Corinthians 8:9-13
What Paul is saying is a practical application of what Christ says. In plain words we are told that our faith and Christian walk isn’t just ours alone but we must also consider our brothers and sisters. Paul says that we ought not participate in activities or use our liberties if they will cause a weaker Christian to stumble. In other words there in no place in the Christian life for self-centered living. We dare not ignore others around us and decide that it’s not our problem when they struggle. Instead we must choose as Christ instructed us to “sanctify ourselves so that others may also be sanctified.” This is the true heart of Christianity- living to serve others rather than self.
Jesus was very clear about the consequences for those who offend- cause to doubt-the weaker ones. In the story it’s the children who have come to Jesus.
“Jesus said to His disciples, “Stumbling blocks [temptations and traps set to lure one to sin] are sure to come, but woe (judgment is coming) to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone [as large as one turned by a donkey] were hung around his neck and he were hurled into the sea, than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble [in sin and lose faith]. Pay attention always be on guard [looking out for one another]! If your brother sins disregards God’s precepts, solemnly warn him; and if he repents changes, forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him [that is, give up resentment and consider the offense recalled and annulled].”
Luke 17: 1-4
“Whoever receives welcomes one child like this in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble sin [by leading him away from My teaching], it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone [as large as one turned by a donkey] hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. “Woe (judgment is coming) to the world because of stumbling blocks temptations to sin! It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to the person on whose account through whom the stumbling block comes!”
Matthew 18: 5-7
Would you choose today to make that decision? Would you say to Jesus, “Because You sanctified yourself for me so that I could be sanctified, I too, will sanctify myself for others so they can also be sanctified.”
I wonder what it would be like those who profess to be Christian would choose to consider the spiritual well-being of others as more important than any self-serving preferences we might have. It might bring about healthy changes to the church.
Dr. John Thompson