Sanctify means "to render or set apart as pure," and when we obey God's Word, we are set apart and purified. Jesus confirms here that everything that God originally authorized to appear in the Bible is truth. This means that every law, statute, illustration, example, and principle is good for us, helping us to have a better life now by building godly character in us.
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
The Whole Truth
The extent to which we grasp and believe the truth of the doctrines determines our desire to be holy. By this holiness created within us we become sanctified. The gospel is "the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). The gospel's power lies or resides in its words produce in our minds. That is all the gospel is'words: "The words that I speak unto you are Spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).
Those words lead us to the faith of Christ, and there is nothing mysterious about this. When we believe what Christ believes, we have His faith. It may not be to the same intensity, but we have His faith. Jude told the later first-century church, "Return to the faith once delivered," because that was the faith of Christ. It came through His apostles, who gave it to the church. The power resides in the words, if we will only use them to live.
Putting those words into practice sanctifies us because they comprise the truth. We become sanctified by applying them. Because we apply them by faith, God will empower us by His Spirit so that the strength to do what He says in the gospel comes from Him. If we just make the choice and begin to do it, He pushes us over the hill. That is what grace is, the gift to overcome.
We all had "our conduct in times past, in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Ephesians 2:3). If we really believe that God quickened us'that He not only rescued us from death, but gave us the seed of His Kind, the God-kind, and with that, the quality of life that is eternal life, the way that God lives'and if we believe what He is offering us and the instruction for attaining it, the sheer awesomeness of it all, combined with logic, drives us to submit to becoming holy'sanctified.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 5): Ephesians 4 (B)
The Greek word translated "truth" is aletheia, which most closely resembles our English word "reality." It means "the manifested, unconcealed essence of a matter." A living, saving faith depends upon the premise by man that God is true in His being and character. The truth forms the basis for a person's conversion.
Consider this: There is a Personal, Living, Almighty God whose ways and laws are reality in spite of the way things may appear to our senses (II Corinthians 5:7). They are intrinsically right and true. Therefore a person who is honest, who is willing to speak the truth, who will acknowledge and submit to it when he sees it, will eventually be converted to be like God.
We are God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). God, as Creator, is making us kings and priests to administer and teach a way of life based upon revealed truth. Because He desires to share and perpetuate what He is with an entire Family of children bearing His characteristics, He cannot have anybody in His Family who does not embody truth as Jesus did.
"You shall not bear false witness" thus has far-reaching spiritual applications. It is not a commandment that we can carelessly ignore as being insignificant compared to other "more important" ones. The word "bear" indicates "spread", "carry", "render," and "give." At first, it seems to involve only perjury or gossip, but other Scriptures show it covers giving a false witness, example, or impression under any circumstance, including hypocrisy and self-deception. It includes the giving of testimony (verbally or by example) in any case that tends to produce injury. The ninth commandment regulates man's relationship to other men much as the third commandment does in man's relationship to God. This commandment directly involves faithfulness and loyalty in our mouth and example for God before men.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)
Truth indeed does mean "factual," something that is right and good. However, we need to understand it in a slightly different way. The Greek word that is translated as "truth" is also equally well translated into "real" or "reality." God's Word is reality. Another English equivalent is the word "genuine"—God's Word is genuine.
Let us consider a few contrasts at this point. God's Word is factual as contrasted to flawed. Man's word is flawed; some of it is true, some is not true. Man's word is corrupted by the fact that, even though he may have good intentions, even though he may be sincere in wanting to tell the truth, his experience just does not support his ability to give us the whole truth. God sees all things, hears all things, knows all things. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, "having neither beginning of days nor end of life (Hebrews 7:3). He is the sum total of everything, and if He tells us something, it has behind it the weight of everything that He is. His Word, then, is not flawed because it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). Thus, God's Word is factual, as contrasted to the flawed word of man.
In addition, God's Word is pure (Psalm 119:140; Proverbs 30:5; I Peter 2:2), as contrasted to that which is contaminated. God's Word is genuine in contrast with what is hypocritical. The word of man may look good on the outside, but it is not all that good all the way through. God's Word is reality, as contrasted to fantasy or vanity.
It is good to understand this because, if we are going to use the Word of God in the right way, we have to believe it. We not only have to believe it, we must trust it. When Jesus says that God's Word is truth, and that we are sanctified by that Word, we need to understand it from the point of view, the perspective, of God: that His Word is pure, genuine, factual, and reality—and all these are contrasted to man's word. Despite having the best of intentions and sincerity, man cannot even begin to come close to ultimate truth of the Word of God.
Whose word will we use as evidence on which to base our lives if we desire to live by faith, by trust?
John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Three)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing John 17:17:
1 Corinthians 5:8
1 Corinthians 5:8
1 Corinthians 12:10
2 Corinthians 11:3
1 Peter 2:1-2
1 John 1:7