With Meekness and Fear
But Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
I Peter 3:15
Sanctify is a word we do not use very often anymore. When growing up you would hear pastors speaking of sanctification all the time. But rarely today do we ever hear the word Sanctify.
So, what does it mean to Sanctify?
The first use of the word Sanctify is found in Genesis 2:3, where it says, “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all his work which God had created and made.”
We know from the creation story that God created the earth in 6 literal days and then upon the seventh day, He set it aside and made it a special day. In reality, he separated or set it apart, made it holy or sacred for religious use.
Since God is already Holy, just, and a loving being, there is no reason that He needs to set himself aside to make Himself holy, therefore in our text there must be something else that needs to be set aside. Yes that would be our hearts.
God is asking that we set aside our hearts, our being, our innermost self, if I can use that term. He is asking that we set apart our hearts by Sanctifying it by acknowledging that he God is supreme in the universe and that God wants to use us for a Holy Purpose.
David in his Psalm of forgiveness asks of God. “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me” Psalm 51:10. This, my friends, can only happen when we set apart our heart. When we determine to cleanse our heart from all corruption; to purify it from sin; to make holy by detaching from the affections of this world and all its defilements, and exalting our heart to a supreme God, who loves us and gave his Son for us that we might have this hope of sanctifying out hearts.
But in and of ourselves, we are powerless to accomplishment without accepting first the gift given to us by the gift of Christ’s atoning sacrifice upon the cross.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give an answer to everyone.”
The Old King James version uses the words “To give an answer.” While the newer versions give it slightly different by saying “To give a defense.”
Many of us believe that as Christians we should go on the offensive by pounding on doors, standing on the street corners to proclaim the gospel message. But this isn’t what this text says, instead it says, “to give an answer” or “to give a defense.” God’s design for spreading the gospel is quite different than we might think. God set the Israelite nation up to be a center piece that he might draw all nations to Israel and thus Israel could give a defense or to answer the question that were asked of them.
What would that question be? “What is the reason for the hope that is in you?” Why as a nation do you prosper and have such hope for the future.
The answer for them is relatively the same as it is for us today. There hope was the promise of the coming messiah and today our hope is the soon return of that messiah, on clouds of glory.
When we as a people set apart from our hearts all desire for sin, setting our hearts, and minds apart for service to God, then our natural response to the question, what is the hope that is within you will be given with gentleness, meekness and with love and reverse. Basically, our lives should now reflect God’s love and His character which shine out of our hearts.
So this evening, let’s use this time as a time for a new beginning to set aside everything in our life that keeps ourselves from fully sanctifying or setting our hearts aside for Christ and his service. Let us be ready to answer the question of what is the hope that is within us. Because that hope is nothing less than Jesus Christ and His shed blood for our sins. And let’s treat all those around us, with meekness, love and reverence and all people deserve.