Sanctification: Past, Present and Future
"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Just as the Lord Himself separated His people from Egypt, He separates us from the power of darkness, from the present evil age, and from the bondage of sin, to Himself.
The angel of the Lord appeared to Moses when he was in Midian. The people of Israel did not yet know what God would do for them, but the Lord, through His angel, spoke to Moses: "Come not near; put off thy shoes from off thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Ex. 3:5, first occurrence of the word "holy"). God sanctified a piece of land to speak to Moses.
Next, God would separate Moses from Midian to lead his people out of Egypt. So it is with us. God, in his eternal wisdom and mercy, chose us in sanctification of the Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2), even before we realized his love and purpose.
In preparing the people to leave Egypt, God commanded about the Passover: "Seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread ... On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and likewise on the seventh ... for on this same day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt" (Ex. 12:15-17, second occurrence of the word "holy"). After the death of many lambs, in that first Passover, God separated His people from Egypt, for Himself. The price was the blood of many lambs, and the seal of His redemption - and that would teach the people that it was irreversible - was to make them pass dryly through the Red Sea and to drive the chariots of Pharaoh and his army into it.
So it is with us "wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered outside the gate" (Heb. 13:12). By the blood of the Lord we are sanctified, so that the sanctification of the Spirit, determined by God in eternity past, becomes a living reality for the believer.
Shortly after crossing the Red Sea, God would teach them that the great and definitive separation effected by him should be manifested: "For I am the Lord, which bring you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God: ye shall be holy, for I am holy" (Lev. 11:45). And it is no different with us, for there is a present and continuous aspect to sanctification, as we can perceive from the Lord's blessed prayer for his disciples: "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth" (Jn. 17:17).
The past and present aspects of our sanctification point to something glorious: God disciplines us "for our profit, that we may share in his holiness" (Heb. 12:10), for God's holiness is full of glory. In days gone by, he shone in our hearts and set us apart for himself. In the present, he enlightens, sanctifies and purifies us by his Word. When he shall appear, we shall see him as he is, and we shall know the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Thank you, Father, for your work of sanctification!