Sanctify them through thy truth. John 17:17

Sanctify them through thy truth.
John 17:17

Sanctification begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God infuses into man that new living principle by which he becomes “a new creature” in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways–mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under; and vivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. This is carried on every day in what is called “perseverance,” by which the Christian is preserved and continued in a gracious state, and is made to abound in good works unto the praise and glory of God; and it culminates or comes to perfection, in “glory,” when the soul, being thoroughly purged, is caught up to dwell with holy beings at the right hand of the Majesty on high. But while the Spirit of God is thus the author of sanctification, yet there is a visible agency employed which must not be forgotten. “Sanctify them,” said Jesus, “through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The passages of Scripture which prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God are very many. 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.

Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

The ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well-favoured and fat kine. Genesis 41:4

The ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well-favoured and fat kine.
Genesis 41:4

Pharaoh’s dream has too often been my waking experience. My days of sloth have ruinously destroyed all that I had achieved in times of zealous industry; my seasons of coldness have frozen all the genial glow of my periods of fervency and enthusiasm; and my fits of worldliness have thrown me back from my advances in the divine life. I had need to beware of lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences, for these will eat up the fat of my comfort and peace. If I neglect prayer for never so short a time, I lose all the spirituality to which I had attained; if I draw no fresh supplies from heaven, the old corn in my granary is soon consumed by the famine which rages in my soul. When the caterpillars of indifference, the cankerworms of worldliness, and the palmerworms of self-indulgence, lay my heart completely desolate, and make my soul to languish, all my former fruitfulness and growth in grace avails me nothing whatever. How anxious should I be to have no lean-fleshed days, no ill-favoured hours! If every day I journeyed towards the goal of my desires I should soon reach it, but backsliding leaves me still far off from the prize of my high calling, and robs me of the advances which I had so laboriously made. The only way in which all my days can be as the “fat kine,” is to feed them in the right meadow, to spend them with the Lord, in His service, in His company, in His fear, and in His way. Why should not every year be richer than the past, in love, and usefulness, and joy?–I am nearer the celestial hills, I have had more experience of my Lord, and should be more like Him. O Lord, keep far from me the curse of leanness of soul; let me not have to cry, “My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!” but may I be well-fed and nourished in thy house, that I may praise thy name.

Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Counsel to the Saints – Asking

I commend to you the importance of fullness in prayer. I do not forget that
our Lord warns us against the example of the Pharisees, who, for pretense,
made long prayers; and commands us when we pray not to use vain repetitions.
But I cannot forget, on the other hand, that he has given his own sanction to
large and long devotions by continuing all night in prayer to God. At all
events, we are not likely in this day to err on the side of praying too much.
Might it not rather be feared that many believers in this generation pray too
little? Is not the actual amount of time that many Christians give to prayer,
in the aggregate, very small? I am afraid these questions cannot be answered
satisfactorily. I am afraid the private devotions of many are most painfully
scanty and limited; just enough to prove they are alive and no more. They
really seem to want little from God. They seem to have little to confess,
little to ask for, and little to thank him for. Alas, this is altogether
wrong. Nothing is more common than to hear believers complaining that they do
not get on. They tell us that they do not grow in grace as they could desire.
Is it not rather to be suspected that many have quite as much grace as they
ask for? Is it not the true account of many, that they have little, because
they ask little? The cause of their weakness is to be found in their own
stunted, dwarfish, clipped, contracted, hurried, narrow, diminutive prayers.
They have not, because they ask not. Oh, we are not straitened in Christ, but
in ourselves. The Lord says, “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” But we
are like the King of Israel who smote on the ground thrice and stayed, when he
ought to have smitten five or six times.

I commend to you the importance of particularity in prayer. We ought not to be
content with great general petitions. We ought to specify our wants before the
throne of grace. It should not be enough to confess we are sinners: we should
name the sins of which our conscience tells us we are most guilty. It should
not be enough to ask for holiness; we should name the graces in which we feel
most deficient. It should not be enough to tell the Lord we are in trouble;
we should describe our trouble and all its peculiarities. This is what Jacob
did when he feared his brother Esau. He tells God exactly what it is that he
fears (Gen 32:11). This is what Eliezer did, when he sought a wife for his master’s
son. He spreads before God precisely what he wants (Gen 24:12). This is what
Paul did when he had a thorn in the flesh. He besought the Lord (2Co 12:8).

This is true faith and confidence. We should believe that nothing is too small
to be named before God. What should we think of the patient who told his
doctor he was ill, but never went into particulars? What should we think of
the wife who told her husband she was unhappy, but did not specify the cause?
What should we think of the child who told his father he was in trouble, but
nothing more? Christ is the true bridegroom of the soul, the true physician of
the heart, the real father of all his people. Let us show that we feel this by
being unreserved in our communications with him. Let us hide no secrets from
him. Let us tell him all our hearts.

I commend to you the importance of intercession in our prayers. We are all selfish
by nature, and our selfishness is very apt to stick to us, even when we are
converted. There is a tendency in us to think only of our own souls, our
own spiritual conflicts, our own progress in religion, and to forget others.
Against this tendency we all have need to watch and strive, and not least in
our prayers. We should study to be of a public spirit. We should stir
ourselves up to name other names besides our own before the throne of grace.
We should try to bear in our hearts the whole world, the heathen, the Jews,
the Roman Catholics, the body of true believers, the professing Protestant
churches, the country in which we live, the congregation to which we belong,
the household in which we sojourn, the friends and relations we are connected
with. For each and all of these we should plead.

This is the highest charity. He loves me best who loves me in his prayers.
This is for our soul’s health. It enlarges our sympathies and expands our
hearts. This is for the benefit of the church. The wheels of all machinery
for extending the gospel are moved by prayer. They do as much for the Lord’s
cause who intercede like Moses on the mount, as they do who fight like Joshua
in the thick of the battle. This is to be like Christ. He bears the names of
his people, as their High Priest, before the Father. Oh, the privilege of being
like Jesus! This is to be a true helper to ministers. If I must choose a
congregation, give me a people that pray.

J. C. Ryle. A Call to Prayer: With Study Guide (Kindle Locations
582-615).