Jesus said: “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness” (John 12:46). Light destroys darkness, and holiness destroys uncleanness. Jesus is the one who sanctifies us, for man cannot sanctify himself. As the will of God is our sanctification, and men cannot sanctify himself, God, the Father, sent his Son to sanctify us. And Jesus said: “Then he has said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He takes away the first, that he may establish the second, by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:9-10). And: “For it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many children to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers” (Heb. 2:10-11).
In the New Testament God is always the one who sanctifies: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23). And Paul adds: “For this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when you received from us the word of the message of God, you accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you who believe” (2 Thess. 2:13). We record here the three forms of sanctification of the New Testament: The sanctification worked by the Son, that is to say, Jesus Christ, through the oblation of his body; the sanctification worked by God the Father, worked by the Word, for Jesus said: “Sanctify them in your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17); and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the Christian, filling him with virtue (Acts 1:8), filling him with love (Rom. 5:5), guiding him (John 16:13), opening his eyes (Eph. 1:17-18), regenerating (Titus 3:5), changing his nature (1 Cor. 6:10-11) and dwelling in him (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Jehovah, the holy one of Israel (Lev. 19:2; 20:26), whose name is holy, for Isaiah said: “For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place’” (Is. 57:15), commands the children of Israel, saying: “You shall be holy; for I Jehovah your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). How could this people be holy? They could not, for Jehovah demanded holiness from the personal value of each one. It was an ordinance, but the same Jehovah declared that there was no righteous man on the earth, one who did what was good and never sinned (Eccl. 7:20).
If speaking about the New Testament, where the three persons of the Trinity sanctify the Christian, the theologians, preachers, and Christians affirm absolutely that it is impossible to be holy, what is the chance of someone who lived before Christ? Not any. The fact that Jehovah did not take any initiative in leading an Israelite into holiness, but just demanded him to be holy, makes things worse. When a righteous man sinned a single time, the prophet of Jehovah declares: “But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of his righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die” (Ezek. 18:24).
There are aggravators in the justice of the holy one of Israel in relation to carnal men, for there were not spiritual men in the Old Testament. Jesus said to Nicodemus: “‘Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can’t see the Kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into the Kingdom of God! That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit’” (John 3:3-6). In the Old Testament the new birth did not exist, and everyone was carnal, so they could not stop sinning (1 Kings 8:46). When they sinned, instead of receiving help, they were abandoned to the desires of their own hearts: “But my people didn’t listen to my voice. Israel desired none of me. So I let them go after the stubbornness of their hearts, that they might walk in their own counsels” (Ps. 81:11-12). In the epistle to the Romans the narrative is more violent: “Because, knowing God, they didn’t glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and traded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Rom. 1:21-26). Instead of support, Jehovah handed them to the power of corruption and hardened them so that they did not turn back: “O Jehovah, why do you make us to err from your ways, and harden our heart from your fear? Return for your servants’ sake, the tribes of your inheritance” (Is. 63:17). Jehovah did everything he did for his own sake, and not for the love of his servants (Is. 48:9-11; Ezek. 20:8-9). Jehovah, the holy one of Israel, did not save them from the Egyptian oppression because he loved them, but for the love of his own name (Ps. 106:8). He wanted to be famous… He wanted to be worshipped by men… He wanted to be glorious in this world…
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira