Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself that they also may be sanctified in truth.
John 17:17-19 (ESV)
As Jesus prays for his followers he establishes their message, their mission, and their authority. They are going to be in the midst of a world that does not operate with the truth of the gospel, but wanders in the uncertainty of purpose and convulses with the pains of decay. These disciples Jesus is leaving behind will be different, and their difference will cause conflict. They will be in the minority and will be pressured to conform to the dominant definitions of reality, but Jesus assures their success by sanctifying them.
His own consecration to fulfill the assignment from the Father makes their consecration possible. Because he was set apart for a particular task - the Cross - that he fulfilled, they are set apart for the particular task of representing him on Earth with the same kind of relationship with the Father that he had demonstrated. He had told them the truth about God in both his words and actions. He had removed the veils of speculation that had clouded mankind's perspective since the Garden of Eden. They now knew he had been sent from God and that he had revealed God to them. In a few days they would have even more understanding of what this meant. They would know that he had fulfilled all the promises of the Old Testament and cleared the way for sinful mankind to be reconciled to the Father.
They would live in the answer of this prayer. They would be able to stand against the strongest ideologies of their day with the simple truth that God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ. They would stand up to the mighty Roman Empire, which could kill the body but not the soul, and watch it fall. They would permeate the known world with the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God and see cultures change or collapse based on the response.
It is now our time to walk in the sanctification of truth. When we are consecrated to live by the captivating message of the gospel, and to make it known in our travels, we will be a part of that same "holiness" that characterized Jesus. We are set apart for special service - not to ecclesial niceties, but to permeate the world with a real answer to its questions and a real solution to its problems.
This means that we cannot afford to neglect the continual renewal of our own minds by the truth. The gospel is so contrary to the natural thought of our surroundings that we must be reminded of it daily. In our effort to be relevant to our culture, we must not lose the transformational power of the gospel. It should be preached every Sunday from Christian pulpits and practiced every day by those who are sanctified in truth.