Exodus 31:13 – “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.”
The Scottish preacher John McNeill liked to tell about an eagle that had been captured when it was quite young. The farmer who snared the bird put a restraint on it so it couldn't fly, and then he turned it loose to roam in the barnyard. It wasn't long till the eagle began to act like the chickens, scratching and pecking at the ground. This bird that once soared high in the heavens seemed satisfied to live the barnyard life of the lowly hen. One day the farmer was visited by a shepherd who came down from the mountains where the eagles lived. Seeing the eagle, the shepherd said to the farmer, "What a shame to keep that bird hobbled here in your barnyard! Why don't you let it go?" The farmer agreed, so they cut off the restraint. But the eagle continued to wander around, scratching and pecking as before. The shepherd picked it up and set it on a high stone wall. For the first time in months, the eagle saw the grand expanse of blue sky and the glowing sun. Then it spread its wings and with a leap soared off into a tremendous spiral flight, up and up and up. At last it was acting like an eagle again.
What’s this got to do with sanctification, you may ask? Well, Ray Stedman defines “sanctify” as “to put to its proper use.” Most of us know that sanctification is being set apart for service, but if we add this component, then to be sanctified is to be set apart for your proper use. What is the proper use of the believer? Stedman goes on to say that "this is holiness, this sense of dependence and availability to God. This is what makes the world sit up and take notice as they see Christian men and women living the kind of life that is always adequate for every circumstance."
So, our verse here in Exodus, as well as several verses in Leviticus, is teaching us that holiness should be the goal of every child of God. Leviticus 11:45 – “Ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 19:2 – “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.” Leviticus 20:7 – “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 20:26 – “For ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy.” But this call for personal holiness is not just an Old Testament application. Paul in Ephesians 5:27, speaking of the church says, “That it should be holy and without blemish.” Peter in 1 Peter 1:15 says, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy.” John in Revelation 22:11 says, “He that is holy, let him be holy still.”
This name for God, Jehovah Mekadesh, the Lord who sanctifies, just like the other names of Jehovah, is emphasizing another of the amazing attributes of God – His holiness. And just as Moses in the Law, Ezekiel in the Prophets, Christ in the Gospels, and Peter, Paul, and John in the Epistles all call for personal holiness in the lives of His saints, so we should strive to exercise restraint in our physical life, temperance in our emotional life, and holiness in our spiritual life. So shall we live in such a way that is pleasing to our God in His demand for holiness in our life for Him. According to Spurgeon, “The Spirit of God brings to our minds the precepts and doctrines of truth and applies them with power. These are heard in the ear and being received in the heart, they work in us to will and to do of God's good pleasure. The truth is the sanctifier, and if we do not hear or read the truth, we shall not grow in sanctification. We only progress in sound living as we progress in sound understanding. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Do not say of any error, "It is a mere matter of opinion." No man indulges an error of judgment, without sooner or later tolerating an error in practice. Hold fast the truth, for by so holding the truth shall you be sanctified by the Spirit of God.”
Quote – “We must choose between holiness and hellishness.” - Unknown