'For their sakes I sanctify
myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified
in truth.' -- John xvii.19.
'He said, Lo, I am come to do Thy will. In which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all. For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.' -- Heb. x.9, 10, 14.
It was in His High-priestly prayer, on His way to Gethsemane and Calvary, that Jesus thus spake to the Father: 'I sanctify myself.' He had not long before spoken of Himself as 'the Son whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world.' From the language of Holy Scripture we are familiar with the thought that, what God has sanctified, man has to sanctify too. The work of the Father, in sanctifying the Son, is the basis and groundwork of the work of the Son in sanctifying Himself. If His Holiness as man was to be a free and personal possession, accepted and assimilated in voluntary and conscious self-determination, it was not enough that the Father sanctify Him: He must sanctify Himself too.
This self-sanctifying of our Lord found place through His whole life, but culminates and comes out in special distinctness in His crucifixion. Wherein it consists is made clear by the words from the Epistle to the Hebrews. The Messiah spake: 'Lo, I come to do Thy will.' And then it is added, 'In the which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ.' It was the offering of the body of Christ that was the will of God: in doing that will He sanctified us. It was of the doing that will in the offering His body that He spake, 'I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.' The giving up of His will to God's will in the agony of Gethsemane, and then the doing of that will in the obedience unto death, this was Christ's sanctifying Himself and us too. Let us try and understand this.
The Holiness of God is revealed in His will. Holiness even in the Divine Being has no moral value except as it is freely willed. In speaking of the Trinity, theologians have pointed out how, as the Father represents the absolute necessity of Everlasting Goodness, the Son proves its liberty: within the Divine Being it is willed in love. And this now was the work of the Son on earth, amid the trials and temptations of a human life, to accept and hold fast at any sacrifice, with His whole heart to will, the will of the Father. 'Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience in that He suffered.' In Gethsemane the conflict between the will of human nature and the Divine will reached its height: it manifests itself in language which almost makes us tremble for His sinlessness, as He speaks of His will in antithesis to God's will. But the struggle is a victory, because in presence of the clearest consciousness of what it means to have His own will, He gives it up, and says, 'Thy will be done.' To enter into the will of God He gives up His very life. In His crucifixion He thus reveals the law of sanctification. Holiness is the full entrance of our will into God's will. Or rather, Holiness is the entrance of God's will to be the death of our will. The only end of our will and deliverance from it, is death to it under the righteous judgment of God. It was in the surrender to the death of the cross that Christ sanctified Himself, and sanctified us, that we also might be sanctified in truth.
And now, just as the Father sanctified Him, and He in virtue thereof appropriated it and sanctified Himself, so we, whom He has sanctified, have to appropriate it to ourselves. In no other way than crucifixion, the giving up of Himself to the death, could Christ realize the sanctification He had from the Father. And in no other way can we realize the sanctification we have in Him. His own and our sanctification bears the common stamp of the cross. We have seen before that obedience is the path to holiness. In Christ we see that the path to perfect holiness is perfect obedience. And that is obedience unto death, even to the giving up of life, even the death of the cross. As the sanctification which Christ wrought out for us, even unto the offering of His body, bears the death mark, we cannot partake of it, we cannot enter it, except as we die to self and its will. Crucifixion is the path to sanctification.
This lesson is in harmony with all we have seen. The first revelation of God's Holiness to Moses was accompanied with the command, Put off. God's praise, as Glorious in Holiness, Fearful in Praises, was sounded over the dead bodies of the Egyptians. When Moses on Sinai was commanded to sanctify the Mount, it was said, 'If any touch it, man or beast, it shall not live.' The Holiness of God is death to all that is in contact with sin. Only through death, through blood-shedding, was there access to the Holiest of all. Christ chose death, even death as a curse, that He might sanctify Himself for us, and open to us the path to Holiness, to the Holiest of all, to the Holy One. And so it is still. No man can see God and live. It is only in death, the death of self and of nature, that we can draw near and behold God. Christ led the way. No man can see God and live. 'Then let me die, Lord,' one has cried, 'but see Thee I must.' Yes, blessed be God, so real is our interest in Christ and our union to Him, that we may live in His death; as day by day self is kept in the place of death, the life and the holiness of Christ can be ours.
And where is the place of death? And how can the crucifixion which leads to Holiness and to God be accomplished in us? Thank God! it is no work of our own, no weary process of self-crucifixion. The crucifixion that is to sanctify us is an accomplished fact. The cross bears the banner, 'It is finished.' On it Christ sanctified Himself for us, that we might be sanctified in truth. Our crucifixion, as our sanctification, is something that in Christ has been completely and perfectly finished. 'We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.' 'By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.' In that fulness, which it is the Father's good pleasure should dwell in Christ, the crucifixion of our old man, of the flesh, of the world, of ourselves, is all a spiritual reality; he that desires and knows and accepts Christ, fully receives all this in Him. And as the Christ, who had previously been known more in His pardoning, quickening, and saving grace, is again sought after as a real deliverer from the power of sin, as a sanctifier, He comes and takes up the soul into the fellowship of the sacrifice of His will. 'He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,' must become true of us as it is of Him. He reveals how it is a part of His salvation to make us partakers of a will entirely given up to the will of God, of a life that had yielded itself to the death, and had then been given back from the dead by the power of God, a life of which the crucifixion of self-will was the spirit and the power. He reveals this, and the soul that sees it, and consents to it, and yields its will and its life, and believes in Jesus as its death and its life, and in His crucifixion as its possession and its inheritance, enters into the enjoyment and experience of it. The language is now, 'I died that I might live: I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me.' And the life it now lives is by the faith on the Son of God, the daily acceptance in faith of Him who lives within us in the power of a death that has been passed through and for ever finished.
'I sanctify myself for them, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.' 'I come to do Thy will, O God. In the which will,' the will of God accomplished by Christ, 'we have been sanctified through the one offering of the body of Christ.' Let us understand and hold it fast: Christ's giving up His will in Gethsemane and accepting God's will in dying; Christ's doing that will in the obedience to the death of the cross, this is His sanctifying Himself, and this is our being sanctified in truth. 'In the which will we have been sanctified.' The death to self, the utter and most absolute giving up of our own life, with its will and its power and its aims, to the cross, and into the crucifixion of Christ, the daily bearing the cross -- not a cross on which we are yet to be crucified, but the cross of the crucified Christ in its power to kill and make dead -- this is the secret of the life of holiness -- this is true sanctification.
Believer! is this the holiness which you are seeking? Have you seen and consented that God alone is holy, that self is all unholy, and that there is no way to be made holy but for the fire of the Divine Holiness to come in and be the death of self? 'Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal body' -- is the pathway for each one who seeks to be sanctified in truth, even as He sanctified Himself; sanctified just like Jesus.
He sanctified Himself for us, that we ourselves also might be sanctified in truth. Yes, our sanctification rests and roots in His, in Himself. And we are in Him. The secret roots of our being are planted into Jesus: deeper down than we can see or feel, there is He our Vine, bearing and quickening us. Let us by faith understand that, in a manner and a measure which are far beyond our comprehension, intensely Divine and real, we are in Him who sanctified Himself for us. Let us dwell there, where we have been placed of God. And let us bow our knees to the Father, that He would grant us to be mightily strengthened by His Spirit, that Christ as our Sanctification may dwell in our hearts, that the power of His death and His life may be revealed in us, and God's will be done in us as it was in Him.
BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.
Holy Father! I do bless Thee for this precious blessed word, for this precious blessed work of Thy beloved Son. In His never-ceasing intercession Thou ever hearest the wonderful prayer, 'I sanctify myself for them, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.'
Blessed Father! I beseech Thee to strengthen me mightily by Thy Spirit, that in living faith I may be able to accept and live the holiness prepared for me in my Lord Jesus. Give me spiritual understanding to know what it means that He sanctified Himself, that my sanctification is secured in His, that as by faith I abide in Him, its power will cover my whole life. Let His sanctification indeed be the law as it is the life of mine. Let His surrender to Thy fatherly will, His continual dependence and obedience, be its root and its strength. Let His death to the world and to sin be its daily rule. Above all, let Himself, O my Father! let Himself, as sanctified for me, the living Jesus, be my only trust and stay. He sanctified Himself for me, that I myself also may be sanctified in truth.
Beloved Saviour! how shall I rightly bless and love and glorify Thee for this wondrous grace! Thou didst give Thyself, so that now I am holy in Thee. I give myself, that in Thee I myself may be made holy in truth. Amen. Lord Jesus! Amen.
1. 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.' Jesus means that our life shall be the exact counterpart of His, including even the crucifixion. The beginning of such a life is the denial of self, to give Christ its place. The Jews would not deny self, but 'denied the Holy One, and killed the Prince of Life.' The choice is still between Christ and self. Let us deny the unholy one, and give him to the death.
2. The steps in this path are these: First, the deliberate decision that self shall be given up to the death; then, the surrender to Christ crucified to make us partakers of His crucifixion; then, 'knowing that our old man is crucified,' the faith that says, 'I am crucified with Christ;' and then, the power to live as a crucified one, to glory in the cross of Christ.
3. This is God's way of holiness, a Divine mystery, which the Holy Spirit alone can daily maintain in us. Blessed be God, it is the life which a Christian can live, because Christ lives in us.
4. The central thought is: We are in Christ, who gave up His will and did the will of God. By the Holy Spirit the mind that was in Him is in us, the will of self is crucified, and we live in the will of God.
See Note D.