Summary: Jesus was sent to "sanctify" us. What does that mean and what difference can it make in your life?
In Luke we’re told that the Shepherds went to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus. But back in 1999, someone not only went to see the baby Jesus… they took him home. They took him from the Daly Plaza in Chicago, IL and though authorities found Him and returned Him to the nativity, someone stole him again in 2004. In fact, this happens almost every year - all across country - somebody steals Jesus. It’s called the “Stolen Baby Jesus Syndrome”, and many communities have taken steps to protect their nativity babies with things like padlocks and chains - which apparently don’t always work. For example, in Arkansas - in 2008 - someone not only stole the baby Jesus, but also the concrete block and chain that secured him. Later, in Palm Beach, FL, authorities had given up using padlocks, and started implanted GPS units in their nativity child.
But why would they bother? Why would they care? Well, these figurines are fairly valuable – a baby Jesus can set you back anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars. Anything that valuable is worth protecting.
When you have something that valuable, you want to protect it. You want to “fence it off” from the rest of the world so that people won’t damage, destroy or steal it.
And that’s the Biblical concept behind sanctification. Sanctification is also called holiness – sanctification and holiness are English translations of the same Greek word. Sanctification means – we’ve been “set apart.” We’ve been set apart from the world to protect us from damage.
In our text today, we read that “(We) were washed, (we) were sanctified, (we) were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I Corinthians 6:11
You see, when we became Christians, we were sanctified by Jesus. We were set apart for God.
As I was working on the sermon this week, I messed up the word at one point and – instead of “sanctified” I said “Sanctuary”. Sanctified essentially means that we were given “sanctuary.” A sanctuary is not only a special place set apart in to worship God (like the we’re in right now). But a sanctuary can also mean a place set apart to provide safety or protection. Essentially Jesus has given us SANCTUARY. He’s SET US APART from, and fenced us off from, the world. We were so valuable to Jesus that He wanted to protect us from the damage of sin.
So, we’ve been given SANCTUARY because we are valuable to God. In fact, the most obvious statement of our VALUE is found in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world (so loved you and me) that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”
Ephesians 2:1-5 drives that home: Before you became a Christians “you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved”
You see, God loves you (PAUSE) … but He hates sin. There’s a famous preacher who explained it this way: “God is holy, and holiness (or sanctification) is the moral condition necessary to the health of his universe because whatever is holy is healthy…. God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. He hates iniquity as a mother hates the polio that would take the life of her child” A. W. Tozer
So, when Jesus SANCTIFIED us, He healed us of the disease of sin. And He gave us SANCTUARY from the damage that sin can do in our lives
But… why is that so important. Well, I Corinthians 6:9-11 tells us “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Without Jesus washing us… sanctifying us… and justifying us… we’re not going to heaven.
Someone once summed it up this way: “Life is short. Death is sure. Sin the cause. Christ the cure.”